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Yes, it’s possible to get a credit card without a job, although you’ll usually still need a source of income. This could come from excess financial aid, Social Security, a spouse’s income, or other avenues.
Yes, you can get a credit card without a job—and sometimes, even with low credit. Life transitions, college, retirement, and many other life circumstances may mean you’re unemployed when applying for a credit card. Building and maintaining healthy credit is important during every stage of life, and you may be surprised how simple it is to obtain a credit card even if you aren’t earning a consistent wage.
From using alternative incomes to cosigning and more, here are four tips for how you can get a credit card with no job.
Table of contents:
- 1. Consider all forms of income
- 2. Leverage someone else when applying
- 3. Go for a secured credit card
- 4. Make sure you can pay your balance
1. Consider all forms of income
Ultimately, lenders care more about your income than they do about your salary. This means that qualifying for a credit card—even if you aren’t receiving a consistent wage—is completely feasible. Consider all income you have access to when applying for a credit card, no matter what stage of life you’re in.
If you’re a student
When you’re applying for a credit card as a student without a job, you can report any extra student aid that isn’t going toward tuition as “income.” This may help you qualify for a credit card.
If you have an employed spouse
Thanks to the Credit Card Act of 2009, those who are over 21 can report household income that they have access to when applying for a credit card. This means that you can report your spouse or partner’s income if you have a joint bank account or if they transfer an amount of money to you every month.
If you’ve lost your job
After losing a job, you’ll want to avoid overextending your budget. However, a credit card can still be a useful safety net in case of an unforeseen situation when funds are tight. You can report unemployment and severance as income when applying.
If you’re retired
You may also report any non-wage income when applying for a credit card. If you’re not working, this could be interest, dividends or Social Security payments. Ideally, retirees have had a long time to build up a solid credit history, so getting qualified for a credit card shouldn’t be difficult.
2. Leverage someone else when applying
We all need a little help from time to time. If they’re willing, friends and family with good credit may be able to cosign or add you as an authorized user on their credit card.
Have someone cosign
Although it’s a big favor to ask someone, having a parent or trusted close friend cosign on a credit card is a great way to qualify if your own credit history isn’t sufficient. If you choose this route, it’s doubly important that you make on-time payments each month—otherwise, you jeopardize both your own credit score and your co-signer’s.
Become an authorized user
If you still live with your parents, you may want to consider asking them to add you as an authorized user on their card. You can then use their credit card to make purchases and pay them the amount you spent. Although the card won’t be yours, as long as the primary cardholder makes consistent payments, the effects to your credit score will likely be positive. This option is best for those looking to build credit—but if you’re looking for a card of your own, a secured card may be better.
3. Go for a secured credit card
If you’re unable to meet the criteria to qualify for an unsecured credit card, you may want to explore secured options. Although uncommon—secured cards make up less than one percent of all consumer credit cards—they’re a great place to start.
A secured credit card is a card with relatively small maximums that borrowers can qualify for with a refundable safety deposit. The creditor may then use the deposit as collateral in case you are unable to pay back the balance.
New borrowers, those with poor credit or those without a steady income may find it easier to qualify for unsecured credit cards, as they’re seen as less risky by lenders. Two common secured credit card options are:
- Discover It Secured Card: There’s no annual fee, and you get two percent cash back at restaurants and gas stations and one percent back everywhere else.
- Capital One Secured Mastercard: A deposit as low as $49 gets you a credit limit of $200, and you are eligible for higher credit limits in as little as six months.
4. Make sure you can pay your balance
Remember that if you’re applying for a credit card without a job, you must be able to pay off the balance. Avoid getting into a borrowing situation that will cause you to carry over a large balance month to month, as credit card interest can get expensive.
Additionally, if you’re in college with student loans, credit card debt can be an extra burden on your debt load. In fact, a 2021 report found that credit card debt was the number one source of financial stress for college students, even above student loan debts.
As long as you don’t charge more than you can afford, unemployment doesn’t have to be a barrier to credit building. By ensuring a responsible, on-time repayment plan, you’ll set yourself up for credit success early on.
If you have other questions about getting a credit card while unemployed, check out our answers to these commonly asked questions.
Does unemployment affect your credit?
Unemployment does not directly affect your credit. While your credit report does include your repayment history, it does not include your income, employment status, or whether you’ve filed for or received unemployment. If you need to apply for unemployment during hard times, don’t feel like you can’t.
However, if your job loss results in missed payments or overutilizing your credit card, these things could affect your score.
What’s a good annual income to get a credit card?
This depends on the issuer. While income won’t appear on your credit report or affect your credit score, issuers are still legally required to ask applicants their income per the Credit Card Act of 2009. This helps ensure credit borrowers can repay their debts. However, issuers set their own credit application requirements, and no total gross income limit for credit cards exists.
Remember to only borrow what you can reasonably repay. If you’re applying for a credit card with no income of your own, consider alternative solutions, like becoming an authorized user on a spouse’s credit card.
What disqualifies you from getting a credit card?
Credit card application approvals are at the issuer’s discretion, but generally, you must be at least 18 years old to open an account under your own name. Between 18 and 21 years old, you’ll also need to provide proof of independent income or have an adult cosign. Otherwise, issuers can set their own income, credit score and other requirements.
Can students get a credit card with no job?
Yes! Students who receive financial aid in excess of their tuition costs can count this extra money as income on their credit card applications. If this isn’t enough to qualify, students can also ask their parents to cosign on the credit card application—or add them as an authorized user to a family card.
What should I put on my credit application for my occupation if I have no job?
You can simply enter homemaker, stay-at-home parent, or none. Remember, you don’t need a job to get a credit card, so being honest here won’t disqualify you. The same thing goes if you come to a question about your employer information: just be honest and put none.
For more ways to improve your credit, especially if you have questionable negative items on your credit report, learn more about the services at Lexington Law Firm—including how credit repair works.
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