Friday, August 19, 2022

How Do Credit Card Companies Check Your Income

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Income From Credit Card Interest And Merchant Fees

Do Credit Card Companies Verify Your Income?

The primary way that banks make money is interest from credit card accounts. When a cardholder fails to repay their entire balance in a given month, interest fees are charged to the account. For any given account, the interest charged is equal to the card’s periodic rate multiplied by the average daily balance and number of days in a billing period. The periodic rate is the annual percentage rate divided by 365. In the United States, the average credit card interest rate paid by interest-bearing accounts is 19.33%.

The second largest source of income for credit card companies are fees collected from merchants. When a retailer accepts a credit card payment, a percentage of the sale goes to the card’s issuing bank. This is commonly referred to as the interchange rate, which will vary from card to card and retailer to retailer.

The table below shows the year-to-date credit card income for five banks. This information is self-reported by banks from 2019 annual report data.


How Do Credit Card Companies Verify Income

Since income doesnt show up on your , most credit card issuers dont actually verify your income. For low lines of credit, its not worth their time or money.

Issuers may employ income modeling, which uses information from your credit reports to estimate your income, or they may conduct a financial review if you submit several credit card applications in a short amount of time or exhibit suspicious behavior.

Some card issuers which serve people with bad credit or limited credit, like Deserve, may also require access to your bank account to check the balance themselves. This is because they want to ensure that people with less-than-great credit have the ability to pay their debts, and typical credit scoring systems wont provide this information.

Issuers reportedly might also check that your income makes sense in the context of your employment. Theyre probably not, however, going to call your employer or the IRS.

But that doesnt mean you should lie on your credit card application. Technically, doing so would amount to loan fraud, a serious crime and could land you hefty fines or even jail time.

Although its extraordinarily rare, it does happen: One man paid nearly $50,000 in fines for falsely inflating his income on credit applications, and another got five years in prison.

The most likely consequence of lying is youll end up with a higher credit limit than you can manage.

In other words? Tell the truth.

Insider tip

Do You Have To Apply For A Credit Card Online

You donât have to apply for a credit card online, but it can be the easiest and quickest option. You could get an instant answer to your application. And if youâre approved, some lenders give you a virtual card number you can start using straight away.

You can also apply for a credit card in person, over the phone or by mail. But you might have to wait longerâfor opening hours or for the lender to mail you back, for example.

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What Information Is Kept By Credit Reference Agencies

Credit reference agencies are companies which are allowed to collect and keep information about consumers’ borrowing and financial behaviour. When you apply for credit or a loan, you sign an application form which gives the lender permission to check the information on your . Lenders use this information to make decisions about whether or not to lend to you. If a lender refuses you credit after checking your credit reference file they must tell you why credit has been refused and give you the details of the credit reference agency they used.

There are three credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. All the credit reference agencies keep information about you and a lender can consult one or more of them when making a decision.

The credit reference agencies keep the following information:

If there has been any fraud against you, for example if someone has used your identity, there may be a marker against your name to protect you. You will be able to see this on your credit file.

Some Creditors Use An Employment Database

How Do Credit Cards Work?

Another way that lenders and creditors can learn about your current finances is by checking an online database of salary and employment information. One such database is Equifaxs The Work Number, which provides employment data reports. These reports contain information about you from employers, including your:

  • current and past employers
  • average hours per pay period
  • pay increases , and
  • if youre getting workers compensation.

This database contains payroll data on 100 million workers from over 600,000 employers in the United States.

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How Debt Affects Your Credit Scores

Since income does not appear on your credit report and is not a factor in credit scoring, your DTI ratio doesn’t directly affect your credit report or credit scores. However, while your income is not reported to credit bureaus, the amount of debt you have is directly related to multiple factors that do affect your credit scores, including your . This ratio compares your total revolving debt with the total amount of credit you have available. Credit utilization ratios are important factors in determining many credit scores.

Other ways your debt can affect your credit scores include:

  • The total amount of debt you have
  • The age of loans or revolving debts
  • The mix of types of credit you’re using
  • How many recent hard inquiries have been made into your credit report
  • How consistently you’ve paid your debts over time

Money You Can Access Can Counts

In addition to your direct income, the CFPB allows credit card issuers to consider third-party income that an applicant has access to. This rule is meant to allow people who do not work outside the home, particularly stay-at-home partners and spouses who rely on a working spouse or partners income, to access credit. If you have access to another persons earnings, in some cases you can count that persons salary as income for the purposes of a credit application.

For example, if you share a joint account with another person and that persons salary is regularly deposited into that joint account, you can consider those deposits as part of your income. Additionally, if a state or local statute grants you an ownership interest in another persons income, you can usually use that persons income when reporting income on a credit card application.

In addition, if another person grants you periodic payments or regularly pays for your expenses, you can count those amounts as income on credit applications. As an example, if you have a roommate subletting from you who makes direct payments to your landlord against your rent obligation, you can consider those payments as income on your credit application.

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Student Loans Don’t Affect My Credit Score

False. Your credit score isn’t just impacted by your credit card bills. You need to pay all your bills on time, which includes your utilities, student loans, mortgage and any medical bills you might have.

“Default on a few student loans, and you’ll see just how much student loans affect your scores,” Ulzheimer says.

If you struggle to remember to pay your bills each month, there’s an easy fix: autopay. In the case of student loan companies, some give you a discount on your interest rate if you set up autopay.

Can You Apply For A Credit Card If You Are Unemployed

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Theres no set rule saying that you must have employment to apply for a credit card but a job will certainly help your chances of getting approved. The only things credit card issuers truly require on an application are a legal name, address, Social Security number, phone number, and date of birth.

Almost every application will ask for your employment status and total income. While lenders will heavily weigh their decision on your answers to those two questions, they arent the only factors taken into consideration.

Many people who dont have traditional employment still have a credit history and positive income to warrant credit approval. Take, for example, a retiree who wants to apply for a credit card.

Many students need access to credit during college, but they dont always have time to work while in school.

You may also be a student, a freelancer, an independent contractor, or self-employed which most banks dont consider traditional employment, but can still yield an income.

As long as you can provide the personal identification questions, you can submit an application for credit. But keep in mind that multiple applications can damage your credit score.

Thats because every time you apply for credit, the lender submits an inquiry to one or all three of the major credit reporting bureaus to view your credit history. Most credit scoring agencies allow around three inquiries on your credit report for every two-year period.

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What Impacts Your Credit Score

Income doesn’t affect your credit score, but it’s still important to know the five main factors of a FICO credit score, which is the most common credit score used by lenders.

  • Payment history : Whether you’ve paid past credit accounts on time is the most important factor of your credit score.
  • Amounts owed : The total amount of credit and loans you’re using compared to your total credit limit, also known as your utilization rate.
  • Length of credit history : The length of time you’ve had credit.
  • New credit : How often you apply for and open new accounts.
  • The variety of credit products you have, including credit cards, installment loans, finance company accounts, mortgage loans and so on.
  • Does Your Credit Card Issuer Know How Much You Make

    By Gerri Detweiler/

    It was awkward to say the least: I was standing at the cash register when the clerk asked me how much money I make. Normally that’s not a question I’d answer for a complete stranger, but I was applying for a department store card and she had to key in a number. I told her, and minutes later, I had the card, which led me to wonder, do they verify that information at all?

    As a result of the CARD Act of 2009, issuers are required to assess an applicant’s ability to repay the debt. Yet, income data isn’t a part of standard , so how do they do that? There are a variety of ways issuers can approach it, says Brannan Johnston, vice president, Consumer Information Services, at Experian.

    Stated income

    Most issuers rely on the income that applicants state on their credit card applications. But that doesn’t mean you can make up anything you want. First, you don’t want to set off alarm bells by stating income you don’t receive. “It has to be reasonable,” says James K. Simon, Jr., senior vice president and chief lending officer for TCM Bank, N.A., and must make sense in the context of the borrower’s employment and financial situation. Fortunately, issuers typically allow you to count a wide range of sources of income, including your spouse’s income if it’s available to pay your debt, as well as income from investments, pensions, Social Security benefits, etc.

    Income models

    Income verification

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    How Credit Card Companies Determine Credit Limit

        Eric is currently a duly licensed Independent Insurance Broker licensed in Life, Health, Property, and Casualty insurance. He has worked more than 13 years in both public and private accounting jobs and more than four years licensed as an insurance producer. His background in tax accounting has served as a solid base supporting his current book of business.

        Credit card companies determine your credit limit through a complex process called underwriting, which works according to mathematical formulas, considerable testing, and analysis. Details of the procedure are protected since it’s the way that the company makes its money. The heart of the matter is that this system of computation helps the company decide who to approve, at what rate and which limit. The higher the credit limit, the more that the company indicates that it trusts a borrower to repay their debt. Here are the basic principles that issuers use to determine your credit amount.

        How To Improve Your Debt

        What to do if you can

        When you’re applying for a mortgage, improving your debt-to-income ratio can make a difference in how lenders view you. Several steps can help you achieve a lower DTI, including:

        • Reduce your total debt by paying off credit cards and paying down any other loans that you can.
        • Avoid taking on new debt.
        • Consider a debt consolidation loan to make it easier to reduce debt faster.
        • Improve your income by asking for a raise, getting a second job or finding a new primary job that pays more.
        • Review your budget to see where you could save money to put toward paying down debt. If you don’t have a budget, start one.

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        What Issuers Can See To Verify Your Income

        Card issuers do review your credit report, but credit reports do not have data about your income, and may not even list your employer.

        That is not the end of the story, however.

        Although card issuers rarely confirm income, they can impute validity in ranges, such as using trend data to assure that income is in line with expectations, said Brian Riley, director of credit advisory service at Mercator Advisory Group.

        For example, a high school teachers income at $150,000 might be questioned, though a college professor in that amount would be acceptable.

        The regulations mean telling your income is mandatory on a card application, but voluntary after you have been approved and opened the account.

        Of course, if you decide to skip the income question, the card issuer may not offer to increase your credit limit.

        The regulations mean telling your income is mandatory on a card application, but voluntary after you have been approved and opened the account.

        Consequences Of Misreporting Income

        It can be tempting to overreport your income. After all, a large income number might result in a larger credit line. However, this is a bad idea and can have serious consequences. Your credit card issuing bank is using your income information to estimate your ability to pay and extend you only the amount of credit that it believes you can pay back. Having the ability to spend way beyond their means can and does get many people into financial trouble.

        Additionally, if a credit card issuer finds that there is something unusual about your spending patterns, they may request that you undergo a financial review. A financial review often involves submitting documentation, such as recent paystubs or a tax transcript so that a lender can verify your reported income. If you refuse to participate in a financial review or if your financial review reveals that your income was substantially different from what you reported, the credit card issuer may use that as a basis for reducing your credit lines, denying you future credit or closing your accounts.

        Although rare, lying about your income can have consequences beyond closed accounts. This could include civil penalties and adverse action should you file bankruptcy and seek to get debts discharged. In the most extreme cases, lying about your income could land you in prison.

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        A Perfect Credit Score Doesn’t Really Matter

        True. While it would be fun to say you are in the elite 850 club, there are no additional benefits of having a perfect score. No loan and credit products exist that are only available for people with perfect scores, and once you reach a certain score, you pretty much get all the same benefits anyways.

        “If you have a 760 or above, you’ll likely qualify for the best deals on everything,” Ulzheimer says.

        More Credit Than You Can Handle

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        Here’s the deal:

        Lenders have incredibly well-tuned application review systems.

        They can estimate exactly how large a credit limit you can manage, and the odds that youll pay back your debts.

        Given the lenders experience with lending, they probably have a better idea of how large a loan you can handle than you do.

        If you lie on an application and wind up with a credit line that is larger than you can manage on your true income, youre far more likely to fall into debt.


        You might be entirely unable to pay your way out of that debt.

        The credit limit that the lender gives you limits your risk in the same way it limits the lenders risk.

        Getting a higher credit limit simply increases the amount of debt you can get into.

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        Getting Married Will Merge My Credit Score With My Spouse

        False. When you get married, your credit report stays unique to you and only you. “Credit reports are always individual at the consumer level,” Ulzheimer says.

        When it comes to applying for new credit with your partner, such as filling out a joint application for a mortgage, each partner’s credit score is taken into consideration by the lenders. Once a joint loan is opened, the positive and negative actions both you and your spouse take are reflected on both of your reports.

        Does Your Lender Really Verify Income And Debt Information

        Lenders typically only notice large discrepancies in reported information. For example, if you claim $10,000 of income on your tax return and $90,000 of income on your credit application, you have a better chance of getting caught than if you claim $10,000 and $12,000, respectively.

        Sound far-fetched? It isnt. In 2006, David Gaylord reported $12,488 of income to the IRS and $90,000-$122,000 of income on multiple credit applications. Not surprisingly, he was convicted of bank loan application fraud. While he wasnt fined $1 million or sentenced to 30 years in prison, he did have to pay a fine of almost $50,000 and was sentenced to time served and supervision upon release.

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