How much income do you need to get a credit card?


Getting a credit card opens up many possibilities, like building credit, immediate access to funds, lucrative rewards, and more.

The only thing standing between you and these opportunities is a credit card application, which typically asks for your contact information and annual income. If you are a student, unemployed, unemployed or low income or stay-at-home spouse, this issue of income can cause a lot of anxiety.

Don’t let your income deter you from applying for a credit card. What counts as income and how much you need to qualify for a credit card may surprise you. Here’s what you need to know about credit card income requirements.

Impact of income on a credit application

The issue of annual income was introduced with the CARD Act in 2009 as a way to protect consumers after the Great Recession. The law states:

“A card issuer may not open any credit card account for a consumer under an indefinite consumer credit plan, or increase any credit limit applicable to such account, unless the issuer does not consider the ability of the consumer to make the payments required under the terms of this account.

Under the CARD Act, card issuers must ensure that cardholders can afford to pay off their balance, or at least meet minimum payments, which are calculated each month based on your outstanding balance. Therefore, your income helps issuers determine whether you will be able to make payments and affects your line of credit.

However, the CARD Act does not dictate a minimum income requirement, which means it is up to card issuers to decide.

Credit card income requirements

The tricky part for applicants is that card issuers generally don’t publish minimum income requirements because income alone is an incomplete measure of an applicant’s financial well-being. It’s just one factor in a larger measure of a cardholder’s ability to make a minimum payment: the debt-to-income ratio (DTI).

Your debt-to-income ratio shows how much money you owe compared to how much money you earn. If you make a good living but have too much debt, you could be turned down for a credit card. So what is considered too much debt?

While credit card issuers determine their own DTI requirements, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests a DTI of 43% to qualify for a mortgage, so this is usually the figure considered when credit cards are involved. Calculate your DTI by dividing your monthly debt (car payments, alimony, mortgage payments, alimony, student loans, etc.) by your monthly income.

Let’s say that each month you owe $1,200 for car payments and $400 in student loans, bringing your total monthly debt to $1,600. If your monthly income is $2,500, your DTI would be 64%, which would likely be too high to qualify for a credit card. With an income of around $3,700 and the same debt, however, you would have a DTI of 43% and you would probably be able to qualify for a credit card.

Some credit cards have minimum credit limit requirements (see “Issuer Specific Policies” below), so if your income prevents you from qualifying for a higher credit limit, your card application may be rejected.

If you don’t have a credit history, or if you have one, and you’re not sure you can meet the minimum monthly payments, you may consider applying for a secured credit card, which requires you to pay a security deposit which serves as your credit card. limit.

Lying about income on a credit card application

You shouldn’t lie about your income when applying for a credit card.

If you get approved for a card you can’t afford to pay off, you’ll end up in debt and hurt your credit, which can prevent you from renting a house, getting approved for a mortgage , open another credit card, get loans and more.

Additionally, lying on a credit card application could result in up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

Acceptable sources of income for a credit card application

Income from a full-time job isn’t the only thing that counts as income for a credit card application. You can factor any of the following into your annual net income:

  • Earnings, wages and tips from full-time or part-time employment, or self-employment
  • Spouse’s income
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Child support, alimony, or separate maintenance income
  • Grants and Scholarships
  • Social security income
  • Retirement funds and pension distributions
  • Savings account assets
  • Gifts
  • Allowances
  • Trust funds or inheritance distributions
  • Returns on investment

It is important to note that certain sources of income are not accepted on credit card applications. The following items will not count towards your annual net income:

  • Loans
  • Your parents’ income

Credit card income requirements for students

Student credit cards are great options for building up credit with lower income after timely payments. Credit issuers have different requirements for showing income as a student that depend on your age.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 20, you will need to show proof of independent income or have a guarantor (usually a parent or guardian) who can guarantee payment. You can count the salary from a job and what is left over from grants and scholarships after paying tuition fees as income.

If you’re a student 21 or older, you don’t need a co-signer to get a credit card. Instead, you can list earnings from part-time or full-time employment (tips count), self-employment earnings, gifts or allowances, spousal earnings, and residual funds from scholarships and grants.

You might need an income of as little as $100 per month to be approved for a credit card as a student.

Issuer specific policies

The CARD Act does not set income requirements, which means that these requirements are at the discretion of card issuers. Some issuers have concrete income minimums, debt-to-equity limits, and minimum credit limits, which would affect your ability to get a card.

For example, under the terms of the card, Capital One requires an income of at least $425 per month above your mortgage or rent payment to qualify for a card.

And, Wells Fargo has a minimum credit limit of $1,000 for its credit cards, depending on the card’s terms. So if your income is too low to be approved for a $1,000 monthly credit limit, you’ll likely be rejected for a card.

The bottom line

While card law states that cardholders must be able to afford credit card payments, issuers can set their own income requirements, which they generally don’t make public. Credit card issuers consider your overall income in your debt-to-equity ratio to determine whether or not you’ll be able to make minimum monthly payments, and therefore whether or not they should approve your application. If you don’t earn or have a low income, receive government assistance, or are a student, there are a number of sources of income you can factor into your net annual income on your credit card application beyond traditional salaries.


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