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This feels like a feminist issue. Is it?

(43 Posts)
plantsitter Thu 11-Oct-12 17:46:03

l found out that my credit card account had been cancelled because I haven't used it for so long. Fair enough. But then when the woman on the phone suggested that I apply for a new one, it became clear I can't have one.

DH and I have a joint account that his wage is paid into and all the household expenditure comes out of, and from which we each get paid an equal personal allowance. This allowance is nowhere near the required minimum of £500 per month income for a credit card.

So I don't qualify for a credit card because I have no income except child benefit, which goes from my account into the joint one. I asked if you can have a joint credit card. No. I asked if DH could have a credit card. Yes, because it's his personal income. Even though it's paid into an account in both our names and we are married, it's his personal income. He can apply for me to have a card on his account.

I'm really upset by this. I feel like DH's chattel and to be honest it's easy enough to feel like that as a SAHM anyway. If DH was paying me what he would have to pay a professional to do what I do, I would easily have enough for a credit card. My name is on the mortgage, which is a hell of a lot more than any credit card limit would be.

Its not that I actually need the credit, it's the principle. Isn't this discriminatory against people who are at home full time with small kids (usually women)? I can see (even if I don't agree) that it would be logical if we weren't married, but we are legally bound to each other anyway! Am I over reacting? DH thinks I'm being a bit hysterical about it but I feel really affronted!

OatyBeatie Thu 11-Oct-12 17:49:51

That seems a bit odd. DH and I have a joint account and we both got credit cards, with no regard paid at all to where the money in the account was originating.

plantsitter Thu 11-Oct-12 17:51:42

Hmm... perhaps the woman on the phone was mistaken - making my teeth gnashing seem a bit silly! I will investigate further.

namechangeguy Thu 11-Oct-12 17:52:49

If your positions were reversed - you earning, husband staying at home - would the bank treat him in the same way? If not, then it is something you could take them to task over, on discriminatory grounds. Otherwise, I think you are stuck. It is their money, after all.

CelineMcBean Thu 11-Oct-12 17:55:14

I think the person you spoke to was incorrect. Loads of homemakers of both sexes can get credit cards. You might not have enough income for a fancy platinum card or whatever but if you have a well managed current account, good credit history and don't have loads of unused credit elsewhere then you should be able to get a credit card like anyone else.

Just don't expect it to be a black AMEX grin

OatyBeatie Thu 11-Oct-12 17:57:22

Oh, but then our credit card was issued by the same bank that handles our current account, so they had evidence of our joint financial status. If your credit card issuer is someone different from your joint account provider, then perhaps they feel they don't have evidence of sufficient funds for your card to be issued? I'm not sure that it is a feminist issue as such, since credit card companies need to check that relevant resources are present (but the wider context of SAHMs being so financially dependent on partenr income is of course a feminist issue).

Northey Thu 11-Oct-12 18:02:09

So it's not that you can't have a credit card on the account, it's that you can't apply for one?

It would rankle... But I suppose the bank doesn't see the financial side of a marriage certificate as being binding enough to make them feel confident that they can proceed against your partner to recover any bad debt run up by you.

plantsitter Thu 11-Oct-12 18:04:12

It was the bank we have our joint account with.

I would say it plays a part in the wider context of how SAHMs are valued (and, yes namechangeguy, SAHDs, but the fact they are rarer is all part of the same issue, I think). That is, in a society that shows value financially, we are not valued at all.

Unless its a mistake of course!

samandi Thu 11-Oct-12 18:09:12

How about if he paid half his salary directly into your account, and then you both pay into the joint account? That would be showing your income to be higher.

It does sound rather daft.

namechangeguy Thu 11-Oct-12 18:13:08

' a society that shows value financially, we are not valued at all.'

Correct, you don't earn, so you have no financial value to them. I am afraid that that is all there is to it.

CelineMcBean Thu 11-Oct-12 18:24:23

In that case op I would be very surprised if they wouldn't give you a card.

Himalaya Thu 11-Oct-12 18:32:29

'in a society that shows value financially, we are not valued at all'

But you are applying for a facility to take out unsecured loans -- so they are are going to assess you financially. You wouldn't want them to assess your homemaking skills grin

From a financial point of view the only security that they have that they will be paid back is from your husbands wages, so I think it is fair enough that he signs for it. Otherwise you could run up a big debt and then quite truthfully say say 'my only income is child benefit', and your husband could say 'she didn't tell me that she had taken a loan out in my name' and the bank would have no leg to stand on.

You hear stories on here of exactly the other side of this picture - where someone's partner has run up big debts, the relationship has broken down and they don't want to be saddled with debts that had nothing to do with them....which is fair enough.

IdCalUaCuntBtUvNtGotTheDepth Thu 11-Oct-12 19:06:16

I agree with Himalaya.

I do think it is a feminist issue as most women are the sahp.. But from the bank's point of view it's not a risk I would want to take. If you want a loan you have to prove your financial worth.

IdCalUaCuntBtUvNtGotTheDepth Thu 11-Oct-12 19:08:35

Sorry i mean, i don't think it it is a feminist issue, as you can work and then get one in your own right.. I think the feminist issue is that women tend to be sahp.. which isn't really what you are asking. Sorry. i'm tired.

Leithlurker Thu 11-Oct-12 19:32:58

Not limited to a feminist issue, limited to people deemed to be too high a risk as they have so little income.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 11-Oct-12 23:19:54

Technically is there any such thing as a joint credit card? Even the card that is on our joint account is technically in my name first (as is the account) and i have to call them about any queries not DH. Our other cards were take out individually then we each got the other a second card on the same card account. So your DH should be able to get you a second card, no problem.

avaboosmummy Fri 12-Oct-12 10:13:33

I don't think it's a feminist issue at all. We have seen the effect of banks and their irresponsible lending. Most companies who offer credit will not do so to anyone who doesn't have an income from employment, otherwise it would mean that anyone who lives on benefits would be able to apply for main stream credit based on their benefit income, which would be deemed irresponsible. Sadly this gap is then filled by pawn brokers, Provident etc.
Unless the government chooses to look into affordable lending for the unemployed then banks will continue to operate in this way.
From personal experience I would never have a joint account or card with anyone else, as you become personally liable for the full amount regardless of who spent the money.

YoullLaughAboutItOneDay Fri 12-Oct-12 13:35:43

Yes, it is a feminist issue.

It is an issue which is disproportionately affects women. And that makes it a feminist issue in my book.

I think that the issue is that the bank is treating the income from your husband's paid job as 'his' income, not 'your' (plural) income and assessing you accordingly. I'd be interested to know legally if that money is 'his'. I was always under the impressions that joint accounts could be used to satisfy debts of either party. I think I'd need to know the legal position on that before I could decide whether it was a) a feminist issue, but actually ok in the circumstances; or b) a feminist issue, and actually not ok at all.

plantsitter Fri 12-Oct-12 13:46:46

You'llLaughAboutIt thank you. You have elegantly voiced just what I was feeling but seemed unable to put my finger on!

I am not sure where the law stands, and I plan to investigate.

Himalaya Fri 12-Oct-12 17:18:01

You'lllaugh - "the bank is treating the income from your husband's paid job as 'his' income, not 'your' (plural) income"

Yes. that makes sense. It is his income. If you can't pay your credit card debts and they have to pursue you for the money they can only take it from your income and assets (including joint assets), but not from someone else's income.

In our house I am the sole earner. If I wanted to take out a credit card it would be assessed against my earned income. My husband can not go into the bank and take out a personal loan on the basis of my income.

It would be a feminist issue if the bank said to me 'we don't care who earns the money only your husband can sign for a credit card' , but I don't think they do that.

Like idcaluacunt said it is a feminist issue that a disproportionate number of women are financial dependents.

CelineMcBean Fri 12-Oct-12 17:28:30

There is something called the right of offset that banks use to take money from one account to pay the debts of another. So, in this instance where the OP would be applying at the bank where her current account is they could take the money from her current account or any other account in credit if she defaulted on the credit card - and there would be nothing her husband could do about it.

If you don't want to be jointly and severally liable then don't have a joint account. And if you don't want the bank to be able to use the right of offset don't have all your accounts in the same place.

I would agree with Youlllaugh it would be a feminist issue for the reasons she gives, were it not for the fact I think the bank person was incorrect in the first place. Obviously as a responsible lender the bank would probably not give the OP a £10,000 credit limit but even unemployed students can get a credit card with limits up to £500 and a SAHM is usually in a better financial position than an overdrawn student.

Startailoforangeandgold Fri 12-Oct-12 17:29:17

I have a Tesco card applied for as a income free SAHM. Don't remember any trouble at all.

Himalaya Fri 12-Oct-12 19:55:17


But equally if her husband moved all his money out of the joint account and started having his wages paid into a different account (which he is perfectly within his rights to do) the bank would be no right of offset to his personal accounts for debts that his wife had run up on a credit card in her name if he had not signed himself liable to the debt.

CelineMcBean Fri 12-Oct-12 20:14:01

Yes that's quite right Himalaya - i'm not sure how that is hugely relevant to my points? All underwriting is done at the time of application and one of the criteria for making a decision will be how existing accounts are run. Lots of things can go wrong later for all kinds of people such as redundancy, illness or midlife crisis and sodding off to live in a teepee in the rain forest and people can just choose to move bank - but the bank only looks at the known situation at time of application.

Any way, that's not my point. My point is that in 12 years of working in retail banks not one of those I worked for would decline a credit card because someone is a SAHM. The op hasn't applied so this is a non-issue. I couldn't put a figure on how many credit cards my teams had approved for homemakers (we didn't distinguish by sex or childcaring responsibilities) but it was hundreds.

Northey Fri 12-Oct-12 20:47:19

Celine, would your banks have granted credit cards to SAHPs on their own signature, or would they have required the signature of the household wage earner?

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