How Credit Card Issuers Use Your Income

Your monthly or annual income is one of the pieces of information credit card issuers need to complete your credit card application. Completing the income portion can be confusing for some applications, especially if you have non–traditional income or income from multiple sources.

You can include income you earn from a full-or part-time job, retirement disbursements, and social security benefits. Students are also allowed to use scholarships and grants, after tuition has been covered. Some applications allow you to include alimony or child support. You can include this income if you want it included in your ability to pay.

If you’re under age 21, you must have your own independent income to be approved for a credit card. Applicants over age 21 can use a spouse or partner’s income as long as there’s reasonable access to the money.

Why Credit Card Applications Need Credit Score & Income

While credit card issuers do check your credit score to see how you’ve paid your bills in the past, you’re asked for your income separately because it’s not included in your credit score. Your credit score only considers previous borrowing information from your credit report.

How Your Income Is Used

Credit card issuers use your income to determine whether you qualify for the credit card and to set your credit limit. Generally, the higher your income, the more likely it is that you’ll qualify.

Your current credit card issuers may request your income to decide whether you’re eligible for a credit limit increase.

What Income Do You Need?

Credit cards don’t publicly state a minimum required income. This makes it impossible to know if you make enough to qualify for a specific credit card. It’s important to be honest about your income. Otherwise, lying about your income may be considered fraud.

In addition to your income, credit card issuers also ask for your monthly housing payment. They can compare to your income and other debt payments to determine whether you could credit card if you’re approved.

A high income increases your chances of approval, but it doesn’t guarantee approval. Other credit factors can cause you to be denied even when you make a lot of money. This includes having a lot of open credit cards, putting in too many credit applications, having high debt balances, and recent late payments.

A high income also doesn’t guarantee a large credit limit. Your credit limit is based on housing and debt payments as well as the type of credit card you’re applying for. Some credit cards have a maximum preset credit limit available to any cardholder, regardless of income.


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