Last year, we wrote about the Credit CARD Act potentially causing stay-at-home parents to have trouble getting a credit card. Since that time, this question has received plenty of press, but with the upcoming presidential election focusing attention on parents who stay home to raise children, the issue is more relevant than ever. Does our society value caregivers, if those caregivers aren`t getting paid for the work that they do? Should a stay-home parent be eligible for a credit card, or must they depend on a partner who does paid work?
The Credit CARD Act of 2009 introduced many provisions aimed at protecting consumers from predatory bank practices and unfair policies. One of these provisions said that a credit card issuer is required to verify an applicant`s income, in order to ensure that they have the ability to repay any debts incurred. If the applicant has no income, then a co-signer is required on the account. This rule was put in place primarily to protect students from getting into debt over their heads, forcing them to have their parents co-sign any credit card account they tried to open.
The possibly unintended effect of this legislation is that many stay-at-home parents now have trouble getting approved for a credit card. No man or woman who forgoes paid work to raise children and care for a household wants to be in the position of asking their spouse to co-sign a credit card application so that they can put groceries and other household necessities on a credit card.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a millionaire businessman before turning to politics, often told his wife Ann that her job staying at home raising their five sons was more important than his job. In an interview with FOX News, Ann Romney recalled her husband telling her that her role at home was “a forever job that is going to bring forever happiness.”
In contrast, current First Lady Michelle Obama and her husband President Barack Obama have both always worked outside the home, largely relying on a combination of paid care providers and extended family to care for daughters Malia and Sasha. Michelle Obama, like Hillary Rodham Clinton before her, is an ambitious career woman who, like Clinton, would probably have balked at the idea that she “could have stayed home and baked cookies” after becoming a wife and mother. The cookie-baking remark was made by Clinton during the 1992 campaign and became a flashpoint for the “mommy wars” debate that still rages today.
Credit Where Credit is Due
Whether or not parents choose to work outside the home and employ daycare providers for their children, or they stay home and care for them without pay, one thing is certain: having a credit card is essential in today`s world. Having a credit card not only makes it easier for homemakers – male or female – to do the shopping and put gas in the minivan, it allows them to budget more effectively, using financial tools offered by credit cards like Chase Slate and their popular Blueprint plan, and to get rewards like cash back from programs like Discover Cash Back Bonus and Citi ThankYou points. A credit card is an indispensible tool for an at-home parent.
Making it difficult for a large segment of the population to obtain a credit card is a misstep, whether by Republicans or Democrats. Obama`s CARD Act may not have been intended to have this effect, but it does seem to have hurt stay-at-home parents. We wonder if Ann Romney would be able to get a credit card if she applied for one without her husband co-signing for her. If he is elected, we imagine Mitt Romney will make more than a few changes to the Credit CARD Act.