I am a stay-at-home spouse or partner without a separate income. I share income and expenses with my spouse or partner. Can I still get a credit card in my own name?
It depends on whether a credit card issuer looks at whether you can pay for the card on your own. Before giving you a credit card, credit card companies have to make sure you have the ability to make your payments. If you are at least 21 years old and have a spouse or partner, a credit card issuer can choose to look at your ability to pay in two ways:
- As an individual, where they look only at your personal assets or income; or
- As part of a couple, where they look at you and your spouse’s or partner’s combined assets or income.
Example: Let’s say you’re a married, stay-at-home parent who is at least 21 years old, and you apply for a credit card with Company A. Company A turns you down and says its decision is based on your lack of income. Next, you apply for a credit card with Company B and they accept your application. This could be because Company A looked only at your personal, individual income, while Company B looked at your combined income with your spouse.
Warning: If you’re under 21, credit card companies have to look only at your individual income even if you have a spouse or partner 21 or older. In this case your individual income and/or assets could include:
- Income you earn yourself (such as your salary);
- Income or assets you earned from a company or property that you own independently or jointly with someone else; and/or
- Income or assets someone else regularly deposits into an account on which you are an account holder (like an individual deposit account or a joint account).
You can still have someone 21 or older, including your spouse or partner, co-sign with you on a credit card. When you do this, credit card companies will look at both yours and your co-signer’s assets or income.
No matter how a credit card company looks at your ability to pay, they must do so in a way that is fair and does not discriminate against you.