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Can I Apply for a Credit Card If I’m Unemployed?

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Can I Apply for a Credit Card If I'm Unemployed?

When you apply for a credit card, you’ll have to answer a flurry of questions about your personal finances. That’s simply par for the course. After all, credit card issuers want to make sure they aren’t going to lose money on you. Being unemployed is a sizable red flag and can make getting a new credit card quite difficult. Fortunately, all hope is not lost. Here are three ways you might still qualify for a new credit card if you’re out of work.

Recruit an co-signer with a steady income

When you apply for a credit card, you’ll have the option of adding an additional cardholder to your application. This person’s income will be taken into consideration by the credit card issuer, which can boost the chances of your application getting approved. However, this also means that the additional cardholder’s credit score is at stake if you miss payments or don’t make them in full.

» MORE: Which credit card issuers allow a co-signer?

Get a secured credit card

If you’re unemployed but have a strong credit history along with some money in savings, you might be able to get a new credit card without adding an authorized user to your application. Your best shot would be applying for a secured credit card.

Here’s how it works: The financial institution from which you’d receive the credit card takes a deposit from you. This money serves as collateral in case you don’t pay your credit card bill. The deposit amount also ends up being your credit limit. Thanks to this setup, the financial institution really isn’t risking much by lending you money. If you don’t miss any payments, you’ll collect your entire original deposit once you close your account.

Consider a prepaid card

If you need a card for online purchases, a prepaid debit card might do the trick. You can easily deposit funds onto these cards and can use them wherever credit and debit cards are accepted. Getting a prepaid card typically doesn’t require a background or credit check since no one is lending you money. You’ll have access only to the amount of money that you deposited onto the card, which will be denied if a purchase exceeds your available funds.

» MORE: How to apply for a credit card so you’ll get approved

Getting ahold of a new credit card when you’re unemployed will be an uphill battle. Without a steady source of income, credit card issuers are likely to view you as a risky borrower. That said, adding an additional cardholder to your application and/or applying for a secured credit card could improve the chances of your application getting approved.


Unemployed man image via Shutterstock.