A credit card is necessary for many of today's transactions, especially if you want to rent a car or book a hotel. Getting a credit card without a job is risky, particularly if you don’t have any income. However, there are some consumers who do have regular steady income, just not income from a job.
Having a Job Is Not a Credit Card Requirement
Many credit card applications only ask for generic occupation or employment and income information. You may simply have to choose whether you’re a student, government worker, homemaker, self-employed worker, or unemployed.
Some applications may ask the name of your employer, but allow you to enter “None” if you don’t have an employer. You may find that some applications do not ask for employer information at all. If employment information is requested on the credit card application, you’re legally required to answer the information honestly.
Income Is More Important
Even if you don't have to enter employment information, the credit card application will require you to list your total annual income. You can include alimony, child support, or any other income you want to be considered for repaying your credit card balance.
College students may be able to include any financial aid left after covering their tuition in their income on a credit card application.
To calculate your total annual income: multiply weekly income by 52; multiply bi-monthly income by 24; multiply income you receive every other week by 26, and multiply monthly income by 12.
Listing Someone Else’s Income
If you’re an adult over age 21, you can use someone else’s income on your credit card application if you can reasonably expect to have access to that income to pay your bills. For example, if your spouse regularly transfers a certain amount of money to your account, you can use the amount that’s transferred as your income. Or, if you have shared an account with someone else and have access to all the funds, you can use the regular deposits as your income.
You can't use someone else income if that person doesn't regularly transfer money to you and you do not have joint access to an account with them.
Get a Credit Card With Someone Else
Another option for getting a credit card without a job is to get a credit card with another person either as an authorized user or as a joint account holder. As an authorized user, you have the right to use the credit card, but without the legal responsibility to pay. Your income and credit history are not considered when you’re added as an authorized user.
Being a joint account holder gives you both the rights and responsibilities of using the credit card. When you apply jointly, your income and credit history are considered alongside that of the other applicant. However, if the other applicant has enough income, you can be approved for the credit card even if you don’t personally have a job.
Try a Secured Credit Card
While secured credit card applications will often ask about your employment and income, you’re more likely to be approved for one of these credit cards because you’re making a security deposit as collateral. With the Capital One Secured MasterCard, for example, you can make a security deposit as low as $49 for a $200 credit limit, depending on your creditworthiness. The higher your security deposit, the higher your credit limit will be. Others may pay rewards on your credit card purchases.
Before you apply for a credit card without first having a job, carefully consider your ability to repay the credit card balance. If you’re approved for a credit card and you don’t have the means to repay your charges, you face credit troubles: late payments, charge-offs, and debt collections stemming from your ability to repay.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How old do you have to be to get a credit card?
Minors cannot get their own credit card, but they may be added as an authorized user to an adult's account. Once you reach age 18, you may be able to get a credit card by proving an independent source of income. The rules restricting credit card ownership relax once you hit age 21.