New rule makes it easier for stay-at-home partners to qualify for credit cards

The last few years have been difficult for stay-at-home spouses to get a credit card, as spouses are penalized for not having their own income.

Three years ago the Federal Reserve Board required credit card companies to consider a person's independent ability to pay, based on his or her individual income or assets, when evaluating their application.

That created a roadblock for spouses or unmarried partners who ran the house. It virtually shut off their ability to get credit on their own, which stopped them from building a credit history.

The new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau allows credit card companies to consider the household income for any applicant 21 years or older who can show they have access to that shared money, such as a joint checking account.

This is great news for more than 16 million people, who now qualify for a credit card.

The rule change was supported by the nation's bankers, who called it "The right thing to do." Credit card companies have six months to comply with the rule.

The new rule came about in thanks to a stay-at-home mom.

Last year, Holly McCall, a stay-at-home mom in Virginia, applied for a credit card and was denied even though she had an impeccable credit score and a husband with a stable income. She was turned down because she did not have any personal income.

McCall, who said she was "disappointed, embarrassed and upset with the implication," worked with a website called Momsrising.Org to petition the CFPB to fix the problem.

More than 45,000 people signed the online petition, and the agency responded with amazing speed.


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