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Stay-at-Home Spouses Face New Credit Restrictions

Columnist Alyssa Karl discusses the ramifications of a new credit law that comes into effect on Oct. 1.

Effective October 1, 2011 the CARD Act will require credit card issuers to consider only the applicant's income—rather than the household's income—when opening a new credit card account or increasing the borrowing limit on an existing card.

Once the rule is implemented a stay-at-home spouse without assets or a source of individual income will be unable to open a new account solely in his or her name. Plus, if they already have an account they may be unable to have their credit limits raised.

What are your options?

1. Apply for a card in your name now, before the rule takes effect Oct. 1, 2011.

2. Open joint accounts with your spouse or become an authorized user on an account in your spouse’s name. These accounts are typically reported to credit bureaus for all cardholders, which helps a stay-at-home spouse maintain a credit history.

3. Speak with a trusted expert at your financial institution to review your options for building and maintaining a strong credit history.

Editor's Note: Alyssa Karl is a regular columnist on Patch and an employee of . Her column publishes twice-monthly. E-mail her at akarl@heartlandcu.com.

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