Coronavirus & Unemployment: Can You Get a Credit Card If You’re Laid Off?

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Last updated on April 26th, 2023

The coronavirus pandemic is causing severe disruption to the lives of millions of Americans. This disruption and chaos include unemployment figures that dwarf anything the nation has seen since the Great Depression. Because of the economic hardships, many find themselves applying for additional lines of credit are one way to help pay the bills. But can you get a credit card if you’re laid off because of COVID-19?

Credit Card Applications and Employment

Unemployment isn’t always a barrier to getting a credit card. Most applications only ask for general information regarding employment. This information usually includes a question as your employment status, but income is far more important than job status.

Credit card applications do require income information. This info is the critical data that shows that an applicant can repay any purchases they’ll make. Income can include:

  • Benefits, such as unemployment or Social Security
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Any other interest-earning accounts
  • Rental property income
  • Child support or alimony

Can You Apply for a Credit Card Using Your Spouse’s Income?

If you are over 21, you can legally use someone else’s income on your credit card application. This ability only applies to those who can reasonably expect to have access to those funds, such as married couples that file their taxes jointly. While using a spouse’s income doesn’t require them to be a co-signer, that is another option that will further increase the likelihood of approval.

Become an Authorized User

Another option is to become an authorized user on a spouse’s credit card account. Becoming an authorized user provides access to another person’s credit account. If they make their payments on time, the user they permit can watch their credit score grow – leading to better approval odds in the future.

Consider a Secured Credit Card

Secured credit cards are an excellent option for those who worry they might not qualify for a credit card due to unemployment. These cards require a security deposit, making their income requirements less strict.

Secured cards feature lower credit limits, meaning they are designed to be used more conservatively than unsecured credit cards. Despite this, however, they offer a credit line that can provide a financial lifeline in difficult times.

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® is one of the best – and most accessible – secured cards on the market. Because the OpenSky doesn’t require a credit check, it is one of the easiest cards on the market to get. The card also benefits from a fixed-APR of 18.89% and a low annual fee of just $35.

Always Assess Your Options Before Applying for a Credit Card

Before applying for a credit card, always assess your current financial situation first. Take into account your ability to repay any additional lines of credit. Also, consider the impact of an application on your credit score. Since credit applications result in a hard pull, they can lower your credit score.

If you need to build credit, a secured card is an excellent option. Beyond that, however, consider asking for your rent, utilities, or even phone payments to be added to your credit report. This can also impact your credit score positively and help you get a credit card if you’re laid off.

Related Article: What’s a Good Credit Card for Someone with Bad Credit?

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About: Cory Santos
Cory Santos

Cory is the senior credit card editor at BestCards, specializing in everything credit card-related. He’s worked extensively with credit cards and other personal finance topics, including nearly five years at BestCards. Cory’s extensive knowledge is an essential part of the BestCards experience, helping readers to live their best financial lives with up-to-date insights and comprehensive coverage of all facets of the credit card space, including market trends, rewards guides, credit advice, and comprehensive credit card reviews.

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