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CFPB Proposal Makes Credit Easier to Get for Stay-at-Home Spouses/Partners


Oct 22 - Proposed updates to existing regulations to make it easier for spouses or partners who do not work outside of the home to qualify for credit cards were announced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

They would allow a stay-at-home spouse or partner to rely on shared income from his or her spouse or partner when applying for a credit card account. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act became law in 2009. It requires that card issuers evaluate a consumer’s ability to make the necessary payments before opening a new credit card account. Under current CARD Act regulations issued by the Federal Reserve, a card issuer generally may only consider the individual card applicant’s income or assets.

Data made available to the bureau suggest that some otherwise credit-worthy individuals have been declined for credit card accounts under the current regulation, even though they have the ability to make the required payments. 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.

The 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. Although the proposal applies to all applicants regardless of marital status, the bureau expects that it will ease access to credit particularly for stay-athome spouses or partners who have access to a working spouse or partner’s income.

According to the census, more than 16 million married people do not work outside the home. That equates to approximately one out of every three married couples who now could have easier access to credit cards with the bureau’s proposal. The proposed change would make it easier to for consumers who are 21 or older to qualify for credit cards if they can afford the payments.

The proposed rule is available at

The American Bankers Association applauded the CFPB proposal in a statement by Kenneth Clayton, executive vice president of legislative affairs and chief counsel. “The bureau responded to a bipartisan consensus in Congress — most notably Financial Institutions Subcommittee Chairman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Ranking Member Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., to address this issue,” Clayton said. “While the devil is in the details,” he added, “the CFPB’s willingness to address this problem is important. It’s the right thing to do and will help millions of Americans in the process.”