Can you get a credit card without a job?
While it’s always preferable to have a stable income when applying for a credit card, there are actually several instances where you might be approved for a credit card without a full-time job. Surprising to some, having a stable paycheck is not an explicit requirement for obtaining a credit card, even when applying for your first credit card.
Let’s explore some of the ways you may be able to get a credit card while retired, unemployed or working part-time.
Yes, you could get a credit card without a traditional job
It’s possible to get a credit card without weekly or bi-weekly income from a steady paycheck. Situations that may be applicable include, but are not limited to:
- If you are already retired and have income from retirement accounts or rental properties including apartments or vacation rentals.
- You may qualify if you are self-employed as a freelancer or contractor, including rideshare driving or food delivery work.
- If you are under age 21 and a full-time student who is not currently in the work force, you may qualify for a student credit card under certain conditions.
- If you’re an unemployed non-student but have significant unemployment, worker’s compensation or disability payments being paid to your checking account.
- If you’re unemployed, but have passive income coming in from legitimate documentable sources.
In general, any legitimate, consistent source of income to which you have a reasonable expectation of regular allotment can be included in your credit card application.
Keep in mind that the credit card you might qualify for in these situations may come with a lower limit and/or higher APR, which could reflect the borrowing risks associated with you based on the information you provided.
It’s important to include all of your income on your application
Your credit card application can include income from non-paycheck sources, including:
- A recent inheritance
- An allowance or trust fund payments
- A legal settlement received after an accident
- Worker’s compensation benefits
- Monthly child support from a former spouse
- Court-ordered alimony from your former spouse
- Direct deposited unemployment benefits from the state workforce agency
- Passive income from intellectual property such as film, television or book rights
- Income earned from influencer marketing or another social media influencer business
- Income from vacation rentals or rental properties, including renting out parking spaces
- Dividends from mineral royalties, retirement accounts or stocks and bonds in a brokerage account
- Cryptocurrencies in your crypto wallet that can be liquidated to U.S. dollars
Note: The above list of non-job income sources should not be considered exhaustive for credit card application purposes. Also, lottery and gambling winnings are excluded from this list, as they are not considered viable sources of non-paycheck income from a lender’s perspective. Many sportsbooks whether at casinos or online, do not accept credit cards.
Having a checking or savings account with the card issuing bank could help with your application. For retirees, required minimum distributions from IRAs and other retirement accounts, liquid securities in retail brokerage accounts, and even crypto currency in wallets that can be readily converted to U.S. dollars—all may count as assets toward your creditworthiness.
When in doubt, check the card issuer’s terms and conditions for what may be listed under applicant income.
Having a co-signer or showing proof of shared household income
Having a co-signer may be another way to qualify as an applicant for a credit card while not being employed. For example, a student under the age of 21 may be eligible for a student credit card if they are being supported by their parent or another working adult who acts as a co-signer. This can be the case for high school students who have reached age 18 as well.
For young adults over 18, a co-signer doesn’t have to be a parent or guardian—a working spouse who can show proof of income could also be an eligible co-signer for a credit card application. A close, trusted friend over age 21 with proof of income could also help you qualify as a co-signer. Keep in mind that your co-signer should be highly responsible with their own credit, so always choose a co-signer knowing that their decisions as a cardmember could impact your own score.
Shared household income—whether from a working spouse, a working parent or an employed or retired sibling you live with—may also help your chances of a successful credit card application. Note that most major credit card issuers, including Chase, do not permit co-signers.
Become an authorized user on a friend or family member’s credit card
For people under 21 including 18-year-old high school seniors ready to assume that responsibility, becoming an authorized user on their parents' credit card may be an option for building credit until they qualify for their own card. Note that this would only build credit history if reported to the bureaus.
Apply for a secured card
A secured credit card can be an option for individuals who have savings but would otherwise not qualify for a regular unsecured card. To qualify for a secured card, you will need to provide a cash deposit as collateral. Please note that Chase does not offer secured cards.
As always, check the card issuer’s terms and conditions for details on what type of non-paycheck income can be verified and potentially help you get approved for a regular or secured credit card.
In most respects, getting a credit card—whether secured or unsecured—is not usually an exceedingly difficult aspect of managing your finances. What poses a challenge for many individuals is securing sufficient income to pay down their debts and the necessary discipline to pay off debts on time. There are multiple ways to apply for a credit card while unemployed or not working full-time, whether you are a retiree, a working adult who recently lost a job, or a full-time student who has not yet entered the workforce.