Credit card rule eased for stay-at-home-moms, partners

Stay-at-home spouses and other unemployed partners should face less hassle in applying for credit cards in the months ahead now that a federal agency is easing application restrictions.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is changing a rule that requires credit card issuers to determine whether applicants can meet financial obligations based on individual income or assets.

Credit card companies said the requirement didn’t take into consideration people who don’t work but have access to shared accounts and would be able to pay on a credit card.

The CFPB agreed that otherwise credit-worthy individuals have been declined for credit card accounts under the current regulation.

Now credit card issuers can take into account an applicant’s “reasonable access” to joint accounts or third-party income.

“Stay-at-home spouses or partners who have access to resources that allow them to make payments on a credit card can now get their own cards,” CFPB director Richard Cordray said in announcing the change.

The new rules, which could affect more than 16 million married people who do not work outside the home, are included in the 2009 Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, which requires card issuers to evaluate a consumer’s ability to pay before opening a new credit card account or increasing a credit limit.

The act was designed to protect college students and other individuals under 21 from getting deep into debt.

Credit card issuers will have six months to comply with the new regulation.