Can you apply for a credit card if you don't meet the income requirement?

You may be able to apply for a credit card if you don't meet the income requirement if you have a strong existing relationship with the bank. Alternatively, if you don't meet the personal annual income requirement, you might be able to rely on household income (such as spousal income, parents' income, etc.) to get approved.

Certain premium travel credit cards have relatively high income requirements. For example, the Visa Infinite line of credit cards (including the CIBC Aventura and the RBC Avion) require a minimum personal annual income of $60,000 or a household income of $100,000 to be eligible.

Meanwhile, the World Elite MasterCard line of credit cards (including the MBNA Alaska World Elite and the HSBC World Elite) require a minimum personal annual income of $80,000 or a household income of $150,000 to be eligible.

Can you apply for these cards if you don’t meet the income requirement? There are a few ways.

If you have an existing relationship with the issuing bank (like a chequing account or a line of credit), then you could go in-branch and ask if they’d be willing to exercise flexibility on the income requirement. Usually, financial service managers at the branch have the ability to grant requests like this on a discretionary basis, so if you ask nicely then there’s a good chance they’ll help you out. This is especially true if you’re relatively close to the income requirement (say you make $75,000 on a card that requires $80,000).

The household income requirement can also represent a path forward. For example, if you’re a student who lives with parents, often your parents’ incomes will count as part of a household. Also, make sure to add up all the income sources that accrue to everyone living at your address – stuff like year-end bonuses, investment income, rental income, etc. are often overlooked.

Lastly, note that your income is self-reported on the credit card application and the issuers very rarely ask for income verification. Lying about your income on a credit card application is technically an act of fraud, although rates of enforcement are very low.


Last updated 23 November 2018. Any questions?
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