Can you get a credit card without a job?

Unemployment doesn't have to be a hurdle when getting new plastic.

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Given the importance of credit for life’s big purchases, it’s always a good idea to carry plastic. If you don’t have a job, however, don’t worry – being unemployed shouldn’t get in the way of you acquiring a credit card.

With that said, qualifying for a credit card could prove a little trickier without a job. Here are a few things you should know if you don’t have a job and are trying to get a credit card.

What job info is important for credit card approval?

Some card issuers won’t ask for employment details in the application form, while others will. In either case, issuers want to know how likely you are to make payments on your card. Some information that can help supply this includes:

  • Income details.
    When a credit card application is concerned, income is more important than employment. You can provide any income you have, including social security, child support, alimony and scholarships. Any source can work, provided you have “reasonable expectation of access” as per the Credit Card Act of 2009.
  • Employment details.
    If you are transitioning to a new job, you shouldn’t have problems providing your new employer’s details. But if the issuer requires several months of payment history, you could either wait or apply for a different card at another card issuer.
  • Credit history.
    Unless you’re a fresh graduate, your credit history always factors heavily into all credit applications. Having a good credit history will help in this case.
  • Debt-to-income ratio. Related to your income details, issuers will want to know your debt-to-income ratio. This number represents your total monthly debt versus your gross income. The lower the number, the better your chances of approval.

Tips for approval when your income isn’t sufficient

Even without a job, if you have a solid income you could still get a decent credit card. But if you have limited or no accessible income, here are a few options for gaining credit card access:
  • List someone else’s income.
    You could use your spouse’s income if you have access to pay your balance.
  • Become an authorized user.
    You can apply with someone else to become an authorized user or you can be added as an authorized user to an existing credit card. This can be either your spouse or family members. As an authorized user, you aren’t liable for credit card payments.
Approved credit card application
  • Get a joint account.
    Similar to being an authorized user, you can apply for a joint account with another person. But in this case, you’re both liable for credit card payments.
  • Consider a secured card.
    To get a secured card, you have to make a secured deposit. This serves as your credit line. Since you already paid your credit line, banks have minimized their risk and are more likely to approve your application.
  • Consider a student card.
    If you’re a student without a job, student credit cards offer a great opportunity for approval. However, showing annual income still applies. You can use your parents’ income if allowed by the issuer.
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7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
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Name Product Amount saved Balance transfer APR Balance transfer fee Recommended minimum credit score Filter values
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.74%, 21.74% or 25.74% variable)
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0% intro for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.74% variable)
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0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.74%, 21.74% or 25.74% variable)
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Earn $150 after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 14.74% to 25.74% variable)
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Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
1.5% cash back on all purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.74%, 21.74% or 25.74% variable)
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.
3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 15.74%, 21.74% or 25.74% variable)
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Earn $150 after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
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5% on up to $2,000 each activated quarter on two categories combined (1% after), 2% on one everyday category and 1% on all other purchases
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When you spend $500 on your card within the first 90 days, you’ll receive a $150 cash back bonus. Rates & Fees

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26.49% variable
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Bottom line

Getting a credit card without a job may seem impossible, but you have several options at hand, including being an authorized user, applying for a joint account, applying with someone else’s income or applying for a secured card or a student card.

Whichever path you choose, it’s important that you compare your credit card options to find the right card for your situation.

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