Can I include my spouse's income on a credit card application?

By , CardRatings Contributor

Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity; however we may be compensated when you click on or are approved for offers (terms apply) from our partners. How we make money.

For most of the past few years, I would have had to tell you "no." After the credit crunch of 2008 inspired a tighter set of federal banking regulations, lawmakers forced banks to get strict about offering new credit only on the basis of a customer's ability to repay a balance from their personal assets.

In reality, most couples I know still entered their entire household income every time they tried to accept an instant approval credit card offer. Because your credit report doesn't include salary information, there's not an easy way for banks to verify exactly how much you make. Besides, other items on your credit report tend to indicate a typical consumer's overall financial situation. However, if a bank later learns that you stretched the truth on your application, you could face reduced credit limits, account cancellation, or even legal proceedings.

That's why small-business owners and stay-at-home parents found themselves stuck in a paradox, unable to truthfully report their family's earnings on credit card applications. Entrepreneurs could at least apply for small-business credit cards. Activists like Holly McCall noted that a typical stay-at-home mom would have to ask her working husband for permission to open a new credit card account. Without cards in their own names, those spouses would have difficulty building solid credit reports that would become essential after a death or divorce.

By 2012, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed an amendment to the Credit CARD Act that would permit applicants to include the amount of income to which they could expect to have reasonable access. After a period of public comment, the amendment became official in the spring of 2013.

Therefore, as of right now, you're free to apply for credit card deals with a dollar figure that represents the household income you and your spouse essentially share throughout the year. You won't be penalized if a bank later finds out that all that cash comes from your spouse. Just remember that your spouse isn't liable for debt you accrue in an account under your own name, especially if they're not included on the application or as an authorized user.


Be the first to comment!

Start Here

Search. Compare. Apply.

Featured Partner Cards

  How is your credit?
Oops! Your credit does not qualify you for this card. Applying and being rejected for this card could possibly hurt your credit
We are redirecting you to offers you are qualified for based on your credit.
CardRatings is excited to announce the launch of the
100% Free CardRatings Email Course to Learn How to Maximize Travel Rewards.

Created in partnership with ChooseFI

We partnered with ChooseFI to combine CardRatings’ offer expertise with ChooseFI’s tried and true travel rewards strategies. Get to know ChooseFI: they have changed tens of thousands of lives and recently won Podcast of the Year at FinCon.
You may think you are a rewards travel expert, but rewards strategies are changing (e.g., the days of card churning and manufactured spending are numbered). Learn powerful, sustainable strategies (a couple of which even you die-hard travel experts might not know). You'll be so glad you did.
We're planning more courses for the future; this is just the beginning of our journey.