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TPG reader Anandi sent me a message on Facebook to ask about getting a new credit card:

“I started applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and it asked for my gross annual income. Could I include my husband’s income in that amount?”

Among the many factors that can affect your credit application, your income (and specifically your debt-to-income ratio) is one of the most important. Naturally, card issuers are more likely to loan you money if they think you can pay it back, so reporting a higher income will increase your chances of being approved. Fortunately, you may be able to include income on an application beyond what you earn personally.

The rules have changed several times over the past decade, thanks to the CARD Act of 2009 and later amendments made by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in 2013. The law says that if you’re 21 or older, then credit card issuers may take income from a spouse or partner into account, so long as you have a reasonable expectation of accessing it in order to meet your financial obligations. (If you’re under 21, then you can only report your own personal income.)

Basically, this allows lenders to look at your complete financial picture, which makes a lot of sense. If you earn $20,000 annually, and you share finances with your spouse who earns $80,000, then you’re more creditworthy than an individual who earns $50,000 (assuming all else is equal). Reporting a combined income of $100,000 represents your ability to repay more accurately than reporting an income of $20,000.

Some credit cards make it clear that you can include income from other people on your application. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card application states the following:

“Your gross annual income can include money received from several sources … If you are 21 or older and regularly use income from others to pay your bills, you can include that too.”

You’ll find similar language in plenty of other card applications.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
You may be able to include a spouse’s income on a credit card application. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

The caveat to all of this is that while card issuers may take other income into account, it isn’t mandatory. A lot of applications ask for income generally — for example, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card application just requests your “total income” with no further instructions. I think it’s fine to include your household income in cases like that, but I wouldn’t do it if the application specifically requests your “individual income” or something similar. If you’re unsure about whether including your household income is allowed, you can always call the card issuer for clarification.

For more on card applications and other credit questions, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.