Sometimes laws with good intentions have unintended consequences. Such is the case with the Credit CARD Act of 2009. It was meant to protect people from deceptive credit card practices and to help keep college students from getting themselves into too much debt. Before the act, students could apply for credit and include their parents’ income as their own, which made them eligible for big limits they could ill afford. In an effort to “rescue” them the law required those under 21 to either list their own income, or get a co-signer.
However, last spring, the Federal Reserve set forth that the provision would apply to everyone, dependents or equal partners in a household. Simply put, those without a paycheck would not get a credit card. As a result of the change, a stay-at-home parent must ask for her partner’s permission to get a credit card.
—Forbes’ Sheryl Nance-Nash is really good at explaining things, like: how the CARD act goofed by making it impossible for stay-at-home moms (or dads) to get their own lines of credit based on household income. There are workarounds: In community property states, you can legally declare your spouse’s income as your own, or you can get your spouse to co-sign. But that’s problematic if your spouse is abusive and trying to keep you away from money, which is a thing that some people do to other people. Activists are on the case.