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KittyKatt

Can 91 year old Grandma get a credit card?

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Hi, I'm trying help my Gran get a credit card.  Here's the situation:  The only card she has is an Authorized User on a Discover card.  The card is in Grandpa's name and he's critically ill.  If he passes away she'll no longer be able to use it (technically, although I don't see why she couldn't and why it would be a problem as long as she keeps paying the bill).  She has no other credit history, as they paid off their mortgage many decades ago.  She has a decent, steady income from social security.  I'd like to get her a card that (1) has a nice sign-up bonus; (2) earns nice rewards; (3) is not a secured card; and (4) has no annual fee (even if it's waived the first year she won't want to pay it in future years nor cancel card and get a different one like us young'uns do).  Any idea as to what bank/card might approve her?  I know NFCU is easy but she's not a member and it would be too complicated to go through their process.

If she can't get one, she can always use her debit card, or I can make her an AU on one of my cards (and then she'd be working for me earning rewards!)

Thanks!

 

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The answer is yes. She should have income, like Social Security, so put it on the app. In the U.S., creditors can't use an advanced age as a negative. If she lived in India, it would be another story. I've seen credit card advertisements saying you can't be over a certain age to apply.

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I suggest aping for a card that asks about assets like whether you own your own home, have savings accounts, and such. This helps those creditors that do more than look at FICO scores and stated income.

 

BTW, being retired is fine.

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I would suggest apping Discover.  It's quite possible that she might be declined due to lack of credit experience in her own name.  However, there's the opportunity to call and speak with an underwriter in response to the denial.  An explanation that she's relied upon her husband's cards for credit access and pointing to the existing account relationship might smooth the way to ultimate approval.

 

Still, I hope it wouldn't come to this.  They'll see the existing account relationship when they consider the app (her "AU" status is likely reflected on her credit report).  Assuming the account has been managed in good standing, that alone may be sufficient for an approval.

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Does Discover have a process /application to add a co-owner to the existing Discover account? She might get more benefit from a FICO standpoint if she can be added as an owner to an account that already has history, and then keep the account after her husband passes.

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Posted (edited)

Does she even spend enough to hit the threshold for most sign-up bonuses? 

 

That question aside, there is nothing that precludes an approval, although the limit may suck.  Mom wasn't happy with Chase the other day when she only got $5K on the Amazon card.  She wanted a separate card for her online purchases and app'ed Amazon while she was on the site.  She is north of 800 but has a thin file (single digit number of tradelines), albeit a file with substantial age.  House fully paid for and significant (eight figures) of investment assets to go with various retirement benefits on a monthly basis that leave her with more to spend than she knows what to do with, even doing multiple cruises annually.  I have not quite convinced her on the merits of the credit card game and so she has stuck with just a few cards, one of which was an AXP that I added her to for her international travel. 

 

Edited to add about Discover...sorry to hear about the grandfather being critically ill.  One thing mom learned when Dad passed was that Discover shut that account down within a few days of his death.  The hospital's notice to Social Security databases quickly got picked up by the credit bureaus and, hence, the creditors.  Mom had been an AU on his account, which she did not realize at the time- she thought they were co-borrowers.  So...the lesson to pass on is that Discover is VERY quick to act when the primary passes.   

Edited by centex

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The real question is SHOULD SHE rather than CAN SHE.

If she wishes to use a  card for on line or in person transactions rather than cash, she should get  a debit card from wherever her bank account is, . If she was given a $5000 credit limit on a Chase Amazon card then what in the world would she want to use another higher limit card for?? Limiting her availability to higher credit limits would expose her to all sorts of future problems from scammers and thieves who will try to take advantage of her when her husband dies. In addition, when SHE joins her husband whomever her executor of her estate is will have unnecessary additional problems.

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4 hours ago, chicagorich said:

Does Discover have a process /application to add a co-owner to the existing Discover account? She might get more benefit from a FICO standpoint if she can be added as an owner to an account that already has history, and then keep the account after her husband passes.

Good thought, but I'm pretty sure that Discover is like most issuers and doesn't issue cards in joint credit.

 

But there are a select number of issuers who do permit joint applications.  It wouldn't hurt to jointly app for one of those cards now.  The only issuer that comes to mind is the one with which I have a joint account with my wife -- PNC. 

 

Another alternative is to open a card with a credit union that permits joint applications.  This is a more common option with CU's; we have a joint card with a small regional CU I've been a member of for 38 years (unfortunately, it's a "relationship-only" CU, so I won't name it).

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21 minutes ago, Why Chat said:

The real question is SHOULD SHE rather than CAN SHE.

If she wishes to use a  card for on line or in person transactions rather than cash, she should get  a debit card from wherever her bank account is, . If she was given a $5000 credit limit on a Chase Amazon card then what in the world would she want to use another higher limit card for?? Limiting her availability to higher credit limits would expose her to all sorts of future problems from scammers and thieves who will try to take advantage of her when her husband dies. In addition, when SHE joins her husband whomever her executor of her estate is will have unnecessary additional problems.

The $5K reference from Chase was my mom, not OP's grandmother.  Mom may not have many lines but she understands why nobody wants a toy card...and in our lives, $5K IS a toy card. 

 

That said...I would NEVER recommend anyone use sucky debit over credit cards if for no reason than protections alone.

 

Credit cards do not present 'headaches' for an executor/executrix.  It adds an additional copy of the death certificate that may be needed, but it is NOT a headache (spoken as someone that just finished closing out an estate).   

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, Why Chat said:

The real question is SHOULD SHE rather than CAN SHE.

If she wishes to use a  card for on line or in person transactions rather than cash, she should get  a debit card from wherever her bank account is, . If she was given a $5000 credit limit on a Chase Amazon card then what in the world would she want to use another higher limit card for?? Limiting her availability to higher credit limits would expose her to all sorts of future problems from scammers and thieves who will try to take advantage of her when her husband dies. In addition, when SHE joins her husband whomever her executor of her estate is will have unnecessary additional problems.

 

Do I misunderstand, or are you suggesting having a credit card would be undesirable for this woman?

 

Yeah, I get the scammer/fraud risk, but she can opt for a CL of only $1k (I've never had an issuer twist my arm to accept a higher limit, although admittedly an account might not get "Signature" or other elite benefits on a limit below $5k k -- doubt that's a concern heree).

 

Plus, it's not like a debit card is immune to scamming.  Only difference is if the debit card scammed you're out the cash immediately and you don't have nearly the dispute rights a credit card affords.

 

And, FWIW, when I handled my mother's estate, her unpaid credit cards were the least of the issues on my hands.

 

Sorry for piling on ... but I can't help but feel I missed some context here ...

 

* eta - Guess I did miss "some context" ... I presumed the reply was to the OP, not centrix.  Many of my comments stand, in any case;  best practice when replying is to include at least a small pertinent snippet of the post you're responding to (so there's no confusion).

Edited by hdporter
clarification / suggestion

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1 hour ago, Why Chat said:

The real question is SHOULD SHE rather than CAN SHE.

 

+1

 

Because... (you figure it out)

 

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if you love granny you'll not let her apply for subprime discovery.

 

she is a great candidate for a secured card.

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Posted (edited)

I misunderstood about the Chase CL of $5000 being your mom Centex and not the OP's Grandmother. I also appreciate that your experience in handling an estate was trouble free. HOWEVER, the OP's grandmother is apparently one of the many women whose husbands handled all of the financial affairs and therefore (IMO) should not have unsupervised access to a line of credit without safeguards. Perhaps the OP should have her as an AU on one of her credit cards. 

Being an octogenarian myself I counsel  many seniors who are sudden widows and see first hand how easy it is for them to become victimized.

Edited by Why Chat

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On 4/5/2019 at 1:54 AM, cashnocredit said:

I suggest aping for a card that asks about assets like whether you own your own home, have savings accounts, and such. This helps those creditors that do more than look at FICO scores and stated income.

 

BTW, being retired is fine.

Good idea, although I don't know which bank asks for that.

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7 hours ago, Why Chat said:

I misunderstood about the Chase CL of $5000 being your mom Centex and not the OP's Grandmother. I also appreciate that your experience in handling an estate was trouble free. HOWEVER, the OP's grandmother is apparently one of the many women whose husbands handled all of the financial affairs and therefore (IMO) should not have unsupervised access to a line of credit without safeguards. Perhaps the OP should have her as an AU on one of her credit cards. 

Being an octogenarian myself I counsel  many seniors who are sudden widows and see first hand how easy it is for them to become victimized.

Grandma has always handled all the family finances, despite the fact that the credit card is in her husband's name.  She continues to do so with increasing amounts of help, mainly from my uncle who lives nearby and visits almost daily.  Also she does not answer the phone unless she recognizes the number, so that she's not subjected to phone solicitations/scams.

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15 hours ago, hegemony said:

if you love granny you'll not let her apply for subprime discovery.

 

she is a great candidate for a secured card.

Thanks for getting back to me, however Discover seems like a good idea since she already has a direct record with them as an AU.  We're not interested in a secured card as I mentioned in the original post.

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21 hours ago, centex said:

Does she even spend enough to hit the threshold for most sign-up bonuses? 

 

That question aside, there is nothing that precludes an approval, although the limit may suck.  Mom wasn't happy with Chase the other day when she only got $5K on the Amazon card.  She wanted a separate card for her online purchases and app'ed Amazon while she was on the site.  She is north of 800 but has a thin file (single digit number of tradelines), albeit a file with substantial age.  House fully paid for and significant (eight figures) of investment assets to go with various retirement benefits on a monthly basis that leave her with more to spend than she knows what to do with, even doing multiple cruises annually.  I have not quite convinced her on the merits of the credit card game and so she has stuck with just a few cards, one of which was an AXP that I added her to for her international travel. 

 

Edited to add about Discover...sorry to hear about the grandfather being critically ill.  One thing mom learned when Dad passed was that Discover shut that account down within a few days of his death.  The hospital's notice to Social Security databases quickly got picked up by the credit bureaus and, hence, the creditors.  Mom had been an AU on his account, which she did not realize at the time- she thought they were co-borrowers.  So...the lesson to pass on is that Discover is VERY quick to act when the primary passes.   

Good point about the initial spend for sign-up bonus .... although if the funeral home accepts credit card and the timing is right ....

And thanks very much for the info about the Discover shutdown.

Also we'd be delighted to get a $5K credit line, and even less would be OK.

Grandma has never been on a cruise other than the local two-hour river cruise.  Only flown once.

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17 hours ago, hdporter said:

Good thought, but I'm pretty sure that Discover is like most issuers and doesn't issue cards in joint credit.

 

But there are a select number of issuers who do permit joint applications.  It wouldn't hurt to jointly app for one of those cards now.  The only issuer that comes to mind is the one with which I have a joint account with my wife -- PNC. 

 

Another alternative is to open a card with a credit union that permits joint applications.  This is a more common option with CU's; we have a joint card with a small regional CU I've been a member of for 38 years (unfortunately, it's a "relationship-only" CU, so I won't name it).

Thanks, I'll look into a joint account with PNC if she isn't approved for a single account elsewhere.

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"Never cosign" comes up as standard advice for installment loans, but I would place AU/joint card relationships in the same general area.  

 

Help Grandma get her own card(s).

 

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3 hours ago, cv91915 said:

"Never cosign" comes up as standard advice for installment loans, but I would place AU/joint card relationships in the same general area.  

 

Help Grandma get her own card(s).

 

I think there's a consensus that individual credit is best in this instance.  The suggestion of joint credit is meant to serve as a back up alternative, if needed.

 

btw, joint credit is different than co-signing or guaranteeing a loan for someone else.    Joint credit is commonplace, particularly when there's a "shared asset" relationship between the two parties (and I'd include potential "decedent/heir" in that cup).

 

Yes, sometimes there are circumstances that make a joint account ill-advised.  But if someone is already at risk of impairment from a potential default without joint liability (given the presence of "shared assets"), then there's considerably less added risk inherent in opening a joint account.  Depending on the advantages extended by making a joint application for credit, it could well be an advisable move in these latter circumstances.

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Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, hdporter said:

I think there's a consensus that individual credit is best in this instance.  The suggestion of joint credit is meant to serve as a back up alternative, if needed.

 

btw, joint credit is different than co-signing or guaranteeing a loan for someone else.    Joint credit is commonplace, particularly when there's a "shared asset" relationship between the two parties (and I'd include potential "decedent/heir" in that cup).

 

Yes, sometimes there are circumstances that make a joint account ill-advised.  But if someone is already at risk of impairment from a potential default without joint liability (given the presence of "shared assets"), then there's considerably less added risk inherent in opening a joint account.  Depending on the advantages extended by making a joint application for credit, it could well be an advisable move in these latter circumstances.

So my Plan A: Apply for her own non-secured credit card at three banks including Discover (unless she's instant-approved, then no more apps, she only needs one piece of plastic).

 

Plan B:  If all three are No-Go, make her an AU on one of my cards so she can work for me earning miles. :)   

 

Plan C:  She can just use her debit card.

Edited by KittyKatt
typo at one spot.

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3 hours ago, KittyKatt said:

So my Plan A: Apply for her own non-secured credit card at three banks including Discover (unless she's instant-approved, then no more apps, she only needs one piece of plastic).

 

Plan B:  If all three are No-Go, make her an AU on one of my cards so she can work for me earning miles. :)   

 

Plan 😄 She can just use her debit card.

 

I just want to alert you to a "caveat" here:  Adding an AU to a credit card with the intend of improving the AU's credit standing is generally termed "piggybacking".  There's nothing wrong with the act itself.

 

However, over the last decade or so, a number of "for profit" companies have popped up who you can engage to be added as an AU to one of their "client's" credit cards (sometimes referred to as "tradeline renting') ... again, with the intent of improving credit score.  In this case, the customer never receives or has access to the credit account; the tactic is simply to boost a credit score.

 

FICO has frowned on this activity as distorting the credit score model and, with the introduction of FICO 8, has taken measures to reduce the impact an AU account has on credit scoring.  Specifics are unknown; just understand that establishing a joint account rather than an AU "may" be more effective in building credit for your grandmother.

 

(It might be best to take a "belt and suspenders" approach for the back up plan -- barring an individual credit account for your grandmother, add her to one of your credit cards AND apply for a card with a joint credit app.)

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