New Credit Card Rule Could Keep Moms From Money
Apr 20th, 2011 @ 12:00 PM by Amber Nelson
The Federal Reserve has added one more change to the credit card rules in a market already reeling from sweeping shifts mandated by Congress. The addition is this: credit card companies must consider only individual income, not household income, for each applicant. While this rule was most likely designed to target college students, it may inadvertently leave some stay-at-home moms out of the credit loop.
Without their own income, many women may be restricted to either using pre-loaded credit cards or their husbands cards as authorized users. This situation may work for some, but could prove very troublesome for others. For example, wives of deployed military members might have a hard time getting credit cards. Divorce could also be a problematic area as most couples close any joint accounts when they split to avoid responsibility for the other’s post-divorce spending. Yet if stay-at-home moms are not allowed credit cards under the new rule, this could mean many newly single-moms would be without any form of credit.
It also poses a problem for women in abusive relationships.
“Women trapped in abusive marriages may be unable to work due to a controlling spouse, a hallmark of relationships characterized by domestic violence,” argued Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Rep. Louise Slaughter in a letter to the Federal Reserve as quoted in a CreditCardGuide.com article. “The availability of an independent credit card may represent her best chance at establishing independence and a path out of a dangerous relationship.”
The Fed maintains that “married women who do not work outside the home will continue to have access to credit,” because of their husbands or pre-loaded cards, but that will probably not sit well with a lot of moms.
The rule is good for keeping too much credit out of the hands of income-less college students, who have often fallen prey to the ease of credit cards. It unfortunately seems too broad. Moms who are worried about losing their own credit opportunities should apply now as the change goes into effect October 1.
Amber Nelson is a seasoned mortgage industry writer and a regular contributor to Loan.com and Mortgage101.com.