Rule Eases Credit-Card Qualifying for Stay-at-Home Spouses

Spouses or partners who do not work outside of the home should find it less challenging to qualify for credit cards, under a new rule proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The proposal would allow a stay-at-home spouse or partner to rely on shared income when applying for a credit card account.
Credit card reform signed into law two years ago requires that card issuers consider a consumer’s ability to make the necessary payments before opening a new credit card account.
However, the reform’s regulations issued by the Federal Reserve requires the card issuer to  only consider the individual card applicant’s income or assets.
The CFPB’s proposed revision would allow credit card applicants who are 21 or older to “rely on third-party income to which they have a reasonable expectation of access.”
“When stay-at-home spouses or partners have the ability to make payments on a credit card, they should be able to obtain a card in their own name,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.  “Today the CFPB is proposing common-sense changes that would facilitate credit access for spouses or partners who do not work outside the home.”
Feedback from the public suggested that some otherwise credit-worthy individuals have been declined credit card accounts under the current regulation, even though they have the ability to make the required payments, the CFPB said.
Discussions with industry sources indicate that a significant number of these individuals may be stay-at-home spouses or partners with access to income from an employed spouse or partner.
According to the U.S. Census, more than 16 million married people do not work outside the home.  That’s about one out of every three married couples who now could have easier access to credit cards, the agency said.

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