Accessible income includes all the income you have a “reasonable expectation of access” to. For most people, it’s more than just paychecks from your regular job. It also includes income sources like an allowance, a scholarship, or Social Security payments.
What Counts as Accessible Income?
Since accessible income is only associated with credit card applications, your age determines what you can count.
Accessible income for those over 21 years of age could potentially include any or all of the following:
- Earnings from rental properties or side jobs
- Your spouse’s income
- Social Security or SSI Disability payments
- An allowance from your parents or grandparents
- Financial gifts
- Scholarships, grants, or other forms of financial aid
- Trust funds
- Retirement funds
- Savings accounts
- Alimony checks or child support
Individuals ages 18 to 20 have to report their accessible income differently on a credit card application. They can only include:
- Personal income
- Regular allowances
- Scholarships and grants
What Doesn’t Count as Accessible Income?
The above lists might not include all the money you have access to. In particular, loans or other forms of borrowed money. Whether you borrowed money from your mom or from Uncle Sam to pay tuition, don’t count it when calculating your accessible income.
While there is no law against listing it, it doesn’t make sense to list it. After all, it’s debt and not income.
How Do I Calculate My Accessible Income?
Simply add up all yearly accessible income that you could verify if need be. If you earn irregular income—like from occasional ride-share driving, reselling on eBay, or home renting, use your best judgement. In general, you want tax returns, pay stubs, invoices, or other documents to back up your accessible income claims.
The credit card application may want the number broken down into monthly income, in which case, just divide by 12.
How is My Accessible Income Verified?
Companies can run a hard pull on your credit, analyze your other accounts and credit history, use a financial algorithm, or request verifying documents to verify your income. Most companies just take your word for it though. So, yes, someone could lie about their accessible income on a credit card application. But, lying about your income isn’t worth the risk.
If you get caught, you could face fraud charges. If you’re convicted of fraud, it likely means that your debt from that card cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. There’s a rare potential for fines and jail time too.
Even if you don’t get caught, you’ll still end up with a credit limit you can’t handle. This could ruin your credit score and finances if you’re unable to pay the bills.
Accessible Income & Credit Card Applications
Accessible income comes into play when you’re applying for credit cards. Here’s how it works…
In 2009, the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act become law and extended several protections to credit card users. Amongst other things, the CARD Act stops credit card companies from taking advantage of customers who have insufficient income. It contains a “proof of income” clause, which requires borrowers to prove that they have enough money to handle minimum monthly payments.
Credit card companies need to consider all income and assets plus current obligations before issuing cards. “All income” is referred to as accessible income. This provision is intended to stop credit card companies from issuing cards to customers with little to no income or assets. If that’s you, the law makes it harder to get a credit card, which protects you from falling into credit card debt.
For others, getting a credit card became easier. Not only can you count personal income from your job, but those age 21+ can also report all reasonably accessible income. Your on-paper income will appear much higher than before. This means that you’re more likely to get approved for a card and for a higher credit limit.
The Bottom Line about Accessible Income & Credit Cards
In the past, your credit card prospects were limited by how much personal income you earned from your job. Now, you can list several more income sources—even those that have set purposes. So, for most people, the “proof of income” clause makes it easier to get approved for a card and a higher credit line.
Unfortunately, this might lead you to think that you can afford spending more than you actually can. For example, an academic scholarship counts as accessible income. If 100% of that goes directly toward tuition, you can’t actually “access” it should you fall behind on your credit card payments. A credit card company doesn’t necessarily care, but you should.
When applying for and using credit cards, stay smart. Avoid carrying a balance, adjust your spending if your income changes, and make a budget to ensure you don’t get carried away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you include parents’ income on a credit card application?
Still living at home? Although you might have access to your parents’ income, you can’t count it as accessible income on a credit card application.
Borrowers ages 18 to 20 can only count personal income from a job, a regular allowance, scholarships, or grants. Your parents’ income only counts if they cosign for the credit card. Borrowers ages 21+ have a longer list of income sources they can count, but it doesn’t include parental income.
Can my spouse get a credit card with my income?
Yes. Thanks to the CARD Act, it’s now easier for stay-at-home/non-working wives or husbands to apply for credit cards. These individuals can list their spouse’s income on the application along with other income sources. Another alternative is for your spouse to become an authorized user on your card.
Can I get a credit card without a job?
In some cases, yes. Since personal income isn’t the only factor at play anymore for those ages 21 and up, it’s possible to get a credit card without having a job. This is especially true if you have a large trust fund, receive Social Security or SSI Disability payments, or have sufficient income.
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College Ave: College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. (1)The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as the borrower or cosigner, if applicable, enrolls in auto-pay and authorizes our loan servicer to automatically deduct your monthly payments from a valid bank account via Automated Clearing House (“ACH”). The rate reduction applies for as long as the monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during periods of forbearance and certain deferments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. (2)$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees. (3)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 1/27/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
ELFI: Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. To qualify for refinancing or student loans consolidation through ELFI, you must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt and must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved post-secondary institution.
LendKey: Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
CommonBond: Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate.
Splash Financial: Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval.com
Earnest: To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest’s fixed-rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with autopay) to 7.89% APR (with autopay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with autopay) to 7.27% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms of 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 0.26% and 5.03% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 23, 2019 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay Discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/23/19. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice.
Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 303 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
Ascent: Ascent’s undergraduate and graduate student are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 11/1/2023 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.
*The minimum amount is $2,001 except for the state of Massachusetts. Minimum loan amount for borrowers with a Massachusetts permanent address is $6,001.