You don’t need a job to get a credit card; you just need a reliable source of income. Income can come in many different forms. Scholarships, unemployment benefits, and child support can all count as income on a credit card application. You can also list your parent’s or spouse’s income on an application if you have regular access to it.
While you don’t necessarily need a job to get a credit card, you do need a source of income. Credit card issuers want to know that you can pay off the debt you accumulate. But your income doesn’t necessarily have to come from a job. It can come from social security payments, spousal income, and even an allowance in some cases.
The good news is you still have a few ways you can get a credit card, even if you’re unemployed and don’t have a regular source of income. If you have a close family member who has a good credit score, you could have them be a cosigner or become an authorized user on their account.
Keep reading to learn more about credit cards and how you can get one without having a job.
Eligibility requirements for a credit card
When you’re applying for a credit card, the three major credit bureaus need you to meet the following requirements to get a card:
- Age. You must be at least 18 years old
- Credit scores. Credit card issuers will look at your credit history and score. Not only does your credit determine whether or not you can get a card, but it also helps determine which cards you are eligible for.
- Citizenship. Most major credit bureaus require you to be a permanent resident or citizen of the U.S. There are, however, some cards that immigrants and international students can apply for.
- Income. You must be able to show that you can pay off your credit card debt. This is why many people wonder if they can get a credit card without a job.
Can you get a credit card without a job?
Having a job is not a requirement to receive a credit card, so you don’t technically need one to receive a credit card. You do, however, have to be able to prove that you can repay any debt you occur.
The biggest thing you have to show credit card issuers is that you have some form of money coming in. If you get income from unemployment benefits, trust funds, or grants, you could list this on credit card applications.
Why being unemployed could prevent you from getting a credit card
The Credit Card Act of 2009 requires you to prove during the application process that you can pay off the debt you build. Having a job is an easy way to show that you will pay what you owe. So, while not having a job doesn’t necessarily prevent you from getting a credit card, not having an income likely will.
What income can you list on a credit card application?
Income can come in more ways than just being employed. Here are some possible income sources you can list on your application that aren’t a traditional job:
- Allowances. Regular allowances given by family members can be listed on credit card applications. Allowances are typically only listed as a form of income by applicants who are between the ages of 18 and 20 years old.
- Child support or alimony. It’s not required to list child support or alimony as a form of income on credit card applications, but if you have limited income, this is one source you can list.
- Earnings from self-employment. You can list earnings from your side business, freelance work, or contract positions on a credit card application. These are all forms of income from self-employment.
- Retirement income. Retirement income includes social security payments, pensions, and withdrawals from your retirement account.
- Scholarship or grants. Students who receive money from scholarships, grants, or financial aid can list these as income on their application.
- Shared household income. If you’re living with a family member or significant other, you can list their funds as a source of income. This can usually only be listed if you have regular access to these funds, such as a joint account or the person making regular deposits into your account.
- Trust funds. Passive income, such as an inheritance or trust fund, can be considered income on a credit card application.
- Unemployment benefits. The IRS considers unemployment benefits a form of income since it is taxable. Because of this, you can list these benefits as a form of income on your application.
Ways to get a credit card without a job
If you’re currently unemployed and don’t have a reliable source of income, there are still a few things you can do. Here are some alternative options to traditional credit cards, or some steps you can take to get a credit card.
Apply for a secured credit card
To open a secured credit card, the borrower puts down a cash security deposit. The deposit acts as collateral in case they fall behind on payments. The amount of money the borrower puts down is their credit limit.
Because of the collateral you provide, secured credit cards are also a good way to build or repair your credit. Take a look at the vendors below to find the ideal secured credit card for your spending habits.
Become an authorized user
An authorized user is a person the cardholder has allowed to access their account. An authorized user generally gets their own credit card that is linked to the cardholder’s account. The authorized user can make purchases with their credit card account, but the account holder is responsible for paying off the card.
Becoming an authorized user can also help build your credit. If you have a close friend or family member you trust, try seeing if they’re willing to let you be an authorized user.
Get a cosigner
A cosigner is a person who promises to pay off debt if the primary borrower is unable to. So, if the primary account holder cannot make their credit card payments, the cosigner steps in and makes the payment instead.
Cosigners tend to be a spouse or family member. If you have a close family member who is in a financially secure place, try asking them to be your cosigner on your credit card. If their credit card company doesn’t allow cosigners, check out the cards below that do.
Get a student credit card
Student credit cards are built specifically to help students build their credit. These cards are usually unsecured credit cards with a low credit limit. Depending on the credit card issuer, you may not have to be in school to be eligible for a student credit card.
If you’re entering college or graduate school and need to access additional funds, compare the student credit card options below.
Is it a good idea to get a credit card while unemployed?
So we know that it’s possible to get a credit card while unemployed, but is it a good idea? Before applying for a credit card, there are a few things you should consider.
The biggest consideration is how it will affect your credit history in the long run. Is your current source of income regular and reliable enough to pay off your credit card debt? Not being able to make your credit card payments on time can negatively impact your credit report and score. If you get a cosigner or are an authorized user, make sure the other person is reliable, too. You don’t want their actions impacting your credit history.
Depending on your situation, it may just be best to wait until you become employed to apply for a credit card, or until you have a regular source of money.
How to build your credit
If you don’t have a credit card or have a bad credit score, look into ways to build your credit. This can make it easier to apply for credit cards in the future, even in times of unemployment. If you don’t have a credit card, you can build your credit in the following ways:
- Get a student card
- Use a secured credit card
- Become an authorized user
- Get a store credit card
- Take out loans and pay them on time
If you already have a credit card but have a poor credit history, here are a few ways you can improve your credit score:
- Make payments on time
- Regularly use your credit card
- Limit how many new credit cards you get
- Increase your credit limit
Can you get a credit card with no income?
Credit card issuers require you to show proof of income to receive a credit card. If you do not have a source of income, you probably won’t get a credit card.
Can I use my parent’s income for a credit card?
Yes, if you can easily access your parent’s income (such as through a joint bank account or regular deposits being made), then you can list it on your credit card application.
Do credit card companies know if you are unemployed?
Credit card companies do not know if you are unemployed unless you inform them. It is more important to them that you have a way to pay off your credit card debt than it is to have a job.
- You do not need to be employed to qualify for a credit card, but you do have to have a source of income.
- Getting a cosigner or becoming an authorized user of another account are two ways you can access credit while unemployed.
- You can list nontraditional forms of income on your credit card application, such as child support or a trust fund.
- Getting a secured credit card or student credit card are two ways you can get a credit card without a job and build your credit at the same time.
View Article Sources
- What is a credit card interest rate? What does APR mean? — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Credit Cards: Interest Rates — HelpWithMyBank.gov
- How to Get Your First Student Credit Card? — SuperMoney
- Don’t Want a Credit Card? You’re Not Alone — SuperMoney
- How To Get A Credit Card With No Credit — SuperMoney
- Building a Credit History as an Immigrant or International Student — SuperMoney
- Best Credit Cards For Students With Bad Credit in 2022 — SuperMoney
- 2021 Consumer Credit Card Industry Study — SuperMoney
- Best Personal Credit Cards | July 2022 — SuperMoney
Camilla has a background in journalism and business communications. She specializes in writing complex information in understandable ways. She has written on a variety of topics including money, science, personal finance, politics, and more. Her work has been published in the HuffPost, KSL.com, Deseret News, and more.