What annual income do I need to be approved for a credit card?
There's no single minimum income you need in order to get a credit card. Different cards have different criteria and you can find them here.
When you apply for a credit card, your income is an important factor that the issuer will use to determine whether you qualify for a credit card. But just how much income must you earn to be approved? And what other factors might be considered? This guide will answer those questions and more. Find out if you’re likely to be approved for a credit card then compare your options.
Is there a minimum income requirement to get a credit card?
There’s not a standard minimum across the market. Each card will come with its own minimum income requirements or in many cases, the card issuer may simply not declare a minimum.
Lenders in the UK are required by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to lend responsibly. In other words, they shouldn’t offer credit to the point where borrowers are at an increased risk of getting into unsustainable debt.
Simply put, a credit card issuer must consider your ability to repay the debt and in order to gauge this, there are a few key factors at play:
Firstly, the credit limit: that’s how much debt you’re allowed to run up on a card. Credit limits are always set to the individual. That means if a lender sees you have a very low income, then if you’re offered a credit card, it’ll likely be offered with a very low credit limit. The good news is credit limits can usually be reviewed after a few months of responsible card usage.
Secondly, lenders want to see you have a visible track record of repaying debt (i.e. your credit file). Again, if this is limited or shows any negative borrowing behaviour, then it wouldn’t be responsible of a lender to offer huge sums of credit.
Then, there’s the question of your income vs outgoings. You might have a super-high income but be in debt up to your eyeballs or have a large number of inflexible financial commitments. By contrast, you might have a low income, but very little in the way of financial commitments or outstanding debt.
A card issuer must ensure that given your credit history and your income and outgoings, you’d be able and likely to keep up the repayments on a fully maxed-out card.
Check minimum income criteria for UK credit cards
What other sources of money could count as income?
If your income isn’t simply from an employer, lenders may still take it into account. Each lender will have its own policy on what can and can’t be included in your income, which could take into account some or all of the following:
- Child maintenance
- Regular overtime/commission/bonuses
Why do eligibility requirements vary?
Like most industries, the world of credit cards is full of different companies trying to make a buck in different ways. An old, established card issuer might only be interested in serving borrowers it deems the safest bets, but a smaller, younger card issuer might have found a way to serve other sectors of the market by looking more closely at borrowers’ situations, for example.
Some cards come with all sorts of intricate features and rewards, but a card issuer will usually want to recoup this expense by charging an annual fee or encouraging the cardholder to spend lots of money on the card. Cards aimed at those with lower incomes, by contrast, will often be pared-back and straightforward.
The bottom line
Minimum income criteria vary from card to card, but there are cards on the market serving those with low incomes. Most card issuers now offer an “eligibility checker” service, so you can find out before you apply (and without hurting your credit score) whether or not your application would be likely to get approved.
Credit card eligibility requirements help issuers reduce the risk involved in lending and allow them to offer you products that are appropriate for your financial circumstances. In turn, you can use these requirements to save you time and help you select and apply for cards that suit your individual needs.
Lastly, it’s a good rule of thumb not to try to borrow more than you can comfortably repay.
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