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CFPB Issues CUNA-backed Credit Access Final Rule
WASHINGTON (4/30/13)--Stay-at-home spouses and others should soon find it easier to secure new lines of credit following the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's most recent regulatory action, which broadens credit-access rules.

Back in 2011, legislators contacted the CFPB noting that ability-to-repay regulations were limiting the ability of stay-at-home spouses to secure new lines of credit. Hearings on the topic were held, and the Credit Union National Association urged the CFPB to correct this issue.

The CFPB regulation, released Monday, will allow credit card applicants who are 21 years of age or older to list joint-account income as an asset on credit applications. The regulation applies to all applicants regardless of marital status, but the bureau expects that it will ease access to credit particularly for stay-at-home spouses or partners who have access to a working spouse or partner's income.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray said the release of the new rule "is an example of the bureau's commitment to working with consumers and financial institutions in order to ensure responsible access to credit for American families."

CUNA Associate General Counsel Jared Ihrig noted the final rule is effective upon publication in the Federal Register, which could be within a week or two. "The compliance date is six months after publication, but credit unions and other card issuers are free to comply ahead of that date," Ihrig added.

Before this CFPB change, Regulation Z's ability-to-repay rule did not specifically address joint accounts or even checking accounts. It merely advised card issuers to take into account assets such as savings accounts when it determines whether it will allow an applicant to open a new card account or increase the credit limit on an existing account. The regulation, as originally written, created unintended issues for many couples and families.
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