Can you get a credit card with no job?
February 21, 2023 8 min read
If you’re not currently working, you might be wondering whether you can get a credit card. The short answer is, while you may not have to be employed, you do need to show you can cover your bills. So you may want to be cautious if you currently have limited income. Without a reliable source of cash, you could be at risk of missing payments and running up a high balance—both of which could impact your credit.
This article will help you understand what counts as income and ways you can find a credit card that’s right for you.
Listing income on your application
Under the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, card issuers are required to consider an applicant’s ability to make payments before opening a new credit card account for them.
When deciding whether to approve someone for a new credit card, the issuer will likely ask them about debts and other financial obligations. The issuer will also typically ask for the applicant’s total annual income. Aside from a full- or part-time job, that could include:
- Earned income from self-employment: If you own or run a business or farm, you can count those earnings on a credit card application. Money you earn from independent jobs, like freelance projects and contract work, could also count as self-employment income.
- Shared household income: This could include income your spouse or partner earns.
- Unemployment benefits: If you’ve lost your job and you’re receiving unemployment payments, you can list it on your application.
- Retirement income: This may include distributions from a retirement account or payments from Social Security.
Applicants who are younger than 21 may need to show proof they can independently repay what they borrow. For example, when applying for a Capital One card, you can include income from things like a full-time, part-time or seasonal job. You can also include money from somebody else who regularly deposits money into your individual account or into a joint account that person shares with you.
How to get a credit card with no job
Not pre-approved for a card you’re interested in or don’t currently have a consistent source of income? You may still have options when it comes to applying for a credit card.
Apply for a secured card
A secured card can be a way to get access to credit even if you have limited income. To open a secured credit card account, you’ll need to put down a refundable security deposit as collateral. The deposit protects the credit card issuer if you fall behind on payments. The issuer decides the minimum you need to put down, and it’s usually equal to your credit limit. Some issuers will increase your credit limit if you make a larger security deposit or show responsible credit use over time.
While it might be challenging to temporarily part with your money, this can be a good way to help improve your credit profile. Just remember to make sure the issuer reports your credit activity to the credit bureaus.
Become an authorized user
Another option to access credit is to become an authorized user on a trusted friend’s or family member’s credit card account.
You’ll likely get your own credit card that’s linked to their existing account. But the primary account holder is ultimately responsible for making payments. Some issuers, like Capital One, may also provide online access for eligible authorized users.
Some card issuers report authorized users to the credit bureaus. That means any account activity could impact both cardholders’ credit scores. Responsible credit card use by the primary cardholder may help build the authorized user’s credit. But things like missed payments could have the opposite effect. So before becoming an authorized user, it’s a good idea to have a discussion about spending limits and how you’ll each handle payments.
Consider a co-signer
You might also be able to ask someone to co-sign your credit card account. Co-signing for a credit card is one way to help a loved one improve their chances of being approved—especially if they’re building or rebuilding their credit. A co-signer could also help the applicant get more favorable terms than they might on their own.
There’s some risk involved for the co-signer here. Ultimately, you’re responsible for making the credit card payments. And missing those payments could have a negative impact on your credit scores. But if you don’t make payments on the account, that responsibility automatically falls to the co-signer.
Access may vary depending on the lender. But generally, a co-signer doesn’t have access to the account, doesn’t receive monthly statements and doesn’t get a card of their own. But account activity may be listed on the co-signer’s credit reports, which means it could impact their credit scores.
So before going this route, consider talking to your co-signer about how you plan to make payments.
Consider how you’ll use a credit card
Not having a job doesn’t have to keep you from getting a credit card if you have the income to pay the bill. But it’s still important to use credit wisely.
Don’t charge more than you can afford to the account, and set up monthly alerts so you keep up with the payments. You might also save on interest if you can pay off the balance in full each month.
CreditWise from Capital One can also be a helpful tool. When it comes to monitoring your credit, CreditWise makes it easy. And it’s free, whether you’re a Capital One customer or not. Plus, using CreditWise won’t hurt your score, so you can check it as often as you like. That’s a major plus if you’re working to build credit.
You can also get free copies of your credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com.