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What income should you report on a credit card application?

Salary, wages and investment income should be included in your application, but some other sources are typically not considered

Summary

Credit card issuers use your income, among other factors, to determine whether you’re approved for a card and how high your credit limit will be. Read on to learn what types of income are typically considered.

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When applying for a credit card, you must provide information about your income.

It’s important to ensure that this information is accurate and complete, as it will influence the credit card company’s decision as to whether they will approve your application.

Before you apply, it’s helpful to know how your income affects your chances of getting approved, what income you should report, what you should leave out and the consequences of misreporting your earnings.

Read on to ensure that you are providing the most accurate information when applying for a credit card.

How does income affect your chances of getting approved?

Card issuers are required under the CARD Act to verify that you’re able to pay what you owe before granting you an account. They use your income as part of their decision to approve or deny your application. Typically, a card issuer will also review your debt-to-income ratio, which measures your income versus your debt obligations, and assess whether or not you’ll be able to make your minimum monthly payments.

Some issuers have their own specific income minimums and debt-to-income ratio limits, while others have a minimum credit limit. For example, Capital One requires income of at least $425 per month higher than your mortgage or rent payment to qualify for a card, but the issuer doesn’t have a minimum credit limit. Wells Fargo, on the other hand, has a $1,000 minimum credit limit for its credit cards and doesn’t have an income requirement.

Some credit card issuers may have more lenient income requirements for students. For example, students may need an income of as little as $100 per month to be approved for a credit card.

What types of income should you report on a credit card application?

There are many different items that count as gross income to be reported on a credit card application. This includes:

  • Salary and wages
  • Self-employment income
  • Bonus pay
  • Tips and commissions
  • Retirement benefits, including pension, worker’s compensation and veterans’ benefits
  • Public assistance, including aid to families with dependent children, food stamps, supplemental security income, temporary assistance to needy families and Social Security benefits
  • Income from investments, annuities and retirement benefits
  • Payments from others (for example, child support or alimony) that can be verified

If you’re 21 or older, you may also be able to include income from others, such as a spouse or parent, that you can reasonably access to pay your bills. That includes their income from salary and wages, bonus pay, tips, commissions, interest and dividends and public assistance.

What types of income should you not report on a credit card application?

Some sources of income may not be counted when applying for a credit card. These include:

  • Unemployment benefits
  • Non-cash assistance, like vouchers or subsidies for utilities and child care
  • Lottery winnings and gifts
  • Certain types of financial aid
  • Loans and borrowed money

Additionally, there are types of income that do not need to be included when a creditor assesses an applicant’s ability to pay back their credit card debt. This includes alimony, child support and separate maintenance income that the applicant does not need to use to pay their bills.

In other words, you may report child support as income on your card application if you so desire, but it is not required. If you don’t want to rely on child support as an income source to pay your credit card bill every month, you don’t need to report it.

What happens if you misreport income on a credit card application?

If a card issuer suspects that you’re not being forthcoming with your income, it may request a financial review. These reviews typically occur when something unusual is found with your spending patterns.

If the financial review reveals that your income is substantially different from what was reported, the credit card issuer may take action such as reducing your credit lines, denying future credit or closing your accounts.

The consequences can be much more serious if you falsify an application. In the worst-case scenario, this type of fraud can potentially lead to $1 million in fines and/or 30 years in prison, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Bottom line

When you apply for a credit card, it’s important to report all of your sources of income that can be verified. Leave out any income streams you may have that are not typically considered in card applications, and avoid misrepresenting your income.

By accurately reporting how much you earn, you’ll be in position to get the best possible terms from your prospective card issuer.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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