Why I Couldn’t Get A Credit Card Despite My Perfect Credit

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Ken Miller is a stay-at-home dad, and was unable to open a credit account at Target because he doesn’t have an income. So his wife had to open it for him.

Has anyone heard of the Credit CARD Act of 2009? It’s a federal law, backed up by a number of regulations, that changed many things, most of them considered good by most people. But it changed at least one thing I consider to be not so good and that I only discovered recently when I applied for a department store credit card.

I’ve been a househusband for many years, and my wife works outside the home. I’ve had the standard credit cards for a long time in my own name and on my own account. Well, about four months ago, I applied for a Target credit card because they were offering a smoking deal on a purchase I was about to make. In the box labeled “Your Income,” I entered our monthly household income (obviously, of course, all made by my wife). I filled out the rest of the data requested and got out my driver’s license for ID verification. As I did this, the counter clerk very politely asked if the income was all mine or household income. Thinking it didn’t make a difference, I responded honestly: “Actually, it’s all my wife’s. I don’t work.” The clerk looked up and asked if my wife was in the store. I told him no, still not thinking too much about the situation. 

It was then that I learned about the Credit CARD Act of 2009. The clerk didn’t call it that of course but simply said that there was a new law that each person applying could list only his or her income, not their spouse’s, that someone like me with zero income couldn’t qualify regardless of credit score, but that if my wife were there she could apply and I could be on the account. After digesting this piece of information, I realized, right there, that my predicament was not the clerk’s fault and probably not that of Target, and suppressed the urge to storm out of the store in a huff like an 8-year-old. Swallowing my pride, I called my wife and asked her to come by the store. She did, and 30 minutes later, she had an approved Target card in her name, I had one in my name as her joint account holder, we had a smoking deal at the store, and I had yet another object lesson in what it’s like to be financially dependent on your spouse.

Looks like I’m not alone in thinking this law, or this part of the law, was not such a good idea. There’s a strong movement to repeal it, and I hope it succeeds. Soon.

Ken Miller is a househusband with excellent credit scores but no ability to receive credit unless his wife is the account holder.

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