The Credit Card Act Of 2009 Treats Stay-At-Home Moms As Second-Class Citizens

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The Credit Card Act of 2009, put into effect by President Obama to protect college students and young people from accruing debt that they cannot pay off, was well-intentioned. The bill proposed that credit card applicants had to make enough income to legitimize their credit limit or have a cosigner who would be legally responsible for their debts. But in demanding that applicants have an individual income, not a household income, the Credit Card Act makes it impossible for stay-at-home parents to get their own line of credit without a co-signer.

Anisha Sekar, chief content manager and credit card industry analyst for, commented on that this bill undermines the contributions of stay-at-home parents:

As far as I’m concerned, a stay-at-home mom works just as hard as (or harder than) her spouse—she just doesn’t file her income with the IRS. She is also likely to make the household’s financial decisions, from paying for groceries to saving for college to dealing with medical bills. So why is she relegated to second-class citizenship, a subordinate who can only get a credit card with her husband’s say?

Sekar writes that while women’s right advocates have attacked the bill for impeding financial independance, the Federal Reserve responded by saying that the restrictions are “inconvenient or impractical,” but necessary to prevent reckless spending.

Ann Carrns recounted her experience with such “inconveniences” over at The New York Times after calling a credit card company to inquire about an account that she and her husband shared. Although her experiences predated the Credit Card Act, she was told that as a holder of the “companion card,” she was not allowed access to certain information regarding the account without her husband’s permission. As a full-time working woman, she was able to laugh off her Mad Men moment. But she realizes that many women don’t have that luxury:

…for an at-home mom in, say, a deteriorating or possibly even abusive relationship, it could be devastating. Forcing such women to piggyback on a husband’s account means that she is still subject, to an uncomfortable degree, to his oversight — which strikes me as an unhealthy step backwards on the long, hard-fought road to gender equality.

While it is easy to see the logic in developing this bill, the susceptibility of parents who are supporting their families in non-financial ways seems much too great to ignore. And with seven out of eight stay-at-home parents being mothers, there is no denying this bill will primarily impact women.