WASHINGTON, April 29 The U.S. consumer bureau
said on Monday it tweaked its rules to fix part of a 2009 law
that lawmakers and industry groups said kept some stay-at-home
parents from getting credit cards.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said it made
changes to a requirement in the Credit CARD Act that called for
companies to verify applicants' ability to pay before approving
them for credit cards.
Regulators initially interpreted that provision to mean that
credit card companies could consider only individuals'
independent income, not total household pay.
That led credit card issuers to deny cards to some
stay-at-home parents and other non-working people who would
otherwise have been approved, consumers, industry groups and
some members of Congress have said.
Lawmakers since have said that was an unintended consequence
of the law. The consumer bureau said on Monday that credit card
companies now will be able to consider the income of a spouse or
partner if the card applicant is at least 21 years old.
"Stay-at-home spouses or partners who have access to
resources that allow them to make payments on a credit card can
now get their own cards," consumer bureau Director Richard
Cordray said in a statement.
Congress created the consumer bureau as part of the 2010
Dodd-Frank law and gave it oversight of mortgages, student loans
and credit cards. The Federal Reserve initially was charged with
implementing the 2009 credit card law, but that responsibility
later moved to the consumer bureau.
Cordray said last September that the bureau planned to
change the rules after several lawmakers, including
Representative Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat who sponsored the
2009 law, asked the CFPB to look into it.
The bureau said that the final regulation follows proposed
changes released in October and that credit card issuers will
have six months to comply with the new rules.