4 Credit Card Options for Stay-at-Home Parents
David Bakke is a single father of a young son living in Atlanta. He writes about smart spending and financial issues on the blog Money Crashers.
Although recent credit card legislation was meant to protect consumers, it certainly had an unintended and potentially negative effect on stay-at-home parents.
Since total household incomes can no longer be taken into account for married people applying for credit, those that choose to stay at home to tend to the kids were negatively affected. However, until this mess gets straightened out (there is a new rule proposal before Congress) here are a few ways that stay-at-home moms or dads can weave their way through the madness.
1. Keep Existing Accounts
The best way to maintain your credit is to hold on to any existing accounts you may have, and break out the cards you may not have used in awhile to be used for occasional small purchases. By doing so, you can avoid having the issuer closing your accounts due to inactivity.
2. Apply for an Approved User With Your Partner
Being added as an authorized user to a credit card account held by your spouse is another way to maintain access to credit. Furthermore, if the account is handled properly and all payments are made on-time, you can improve your credit score.
3. Obtain a Secured Credit Card
You won't run into many of the problems associated with traditional cards if you obtain a secured credit card. Secured credit cards require a deposit of your own funds, which is used to establish your limit - for instance, if you deposit $2,000, that is how much available credit you will have. This can be very restrictive (unless you have a ton of cash lying around), but it can be a good workaround if you can't get a regular credit card. Plus, it's a great way to prevent overspending or falling into significant debt. Understand, however, that secured credit cards generally have higher fees, so be sure to read the fine print before signing up.
4. Improve Your Credit in Any Way That You Can
Although improving your credit score may not necessarily assist you in obtaining credit right now, it certainly can benefit you down the road. Any monthly service bills in your name should be paid on time and in full, and if possible, switch any bills in your spouse's name into your name, as paying these bills on time each month can also build your score.
Until this mess is corrected, your options for credit are limited. Until then, do plenty of research and take steps to ensure that you still have at least some access to credit. Fortunately, the U.S. government has finally recognized there's a problem, and with any luck a solution is forthcoming. What are your thoughts on credit cards for stay-at-home parents?