Feds Give Stay-at-Home Spouses Easier Access to Credit

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is restoring easier access to credit cards for nonworking spouses.

A 2009 law known as the Credit CARD Act made it more difficult for low- and no-income family members to qualify for credit because it required lenders to consider only the individual’s income and assets.

Prior to the law, card issuers could consider shared household incomes when determining the applicant’s ability to pay. The point of the rule was to prevent college students and other young adults from applying with theirs parents’ incomes and getting in over their heads with debt.

Stay-at-home spouses complained about the change, and last October the CFPB proposed a fix that “allows card issuers to consider third-party income if the applicant has a reasonable expectation of access to it.” The final version of that fix will now appear in the Federal Register.

The census says more than 16 million spouses don’t work outside the home. Card companies have up to six months to implement the change.

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