How to Obtain a Credit Card Without a Job

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Unemployment benefits and allowances from a spouse are both valid sources of income for credit card applications.
Unemployment benefits and allowances from a spouse are both valid sources of income for credit card applications. (Image: Jochen Sand/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Banks are hesitant to lend to consumers with a poor or limited credit history. They also are wary of lending to consumers without a source of income. If you don't have a job, a bank will consider other sources of income and support available to you. Students with access to loans typically can obtain student credit cards. As a last resort, consumers with limited income and assets can request a secured credit card.

Credit Cards and Income

Banks are wary of extending a line of credit if a consumer doesn't have the resources to pay down purchases. In fact, the federal government prohibits it. The Credit CARD Act of 2009 required banks to evaluate the income of the borrower when extending credit. In 2013, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection amended the act to allow banks to consider both borrower income and any income or assets they have a reasonable expectation of access to if the applicant is over 21.

Income From Other Sources

You don't need a job to get a traditional credit card. However, you do have to show some sort of income stream or assets you can use to pay off purchases. If you work as an independent contractor or receive unemployment benefits, alimony or child support payments, you may list that income. If a parent, family member or spouse provides you funds to pay bills, you can also list that allowance as income. If you have no current income stream but a large balance in your checking and savings accounts, a bank may still issue you a credit card. However, the credit limit will be lower for consumers with no income or low income.

Student Credit Cards

If you're a student, you often can obtain a credit card without a job. Lenders understand that it's difficult to attend school and work at the same time. That's why most banks have credit cards especially designed for students that often have lower credit score and income requirements. Students can list expected student loan disbursements as a form of income to obtain a line of credit.

Secured Credit Cards

If you truly have no sources of income or support that you can list on a credit card application and don't have a lot of savings, you may consider a secured credit card. This can be especially useful to consumers who are trying to build up a credit history. With a secured credit card, you'll turn over a security deposit to the bank and use that to fund your credit card purchases. For example, if you give the bank a security deposit of $400, you will only be able to charge $400 until you pay off some of the balance. As your credit improves and you obtain new sources of income, you can request an unsecured credit card.

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