Over the past several years, changes have been made within the U.S. financial and lending systems that are meant to protect consumers from misleading, debt-dangerous products. One of the efforts to help consumers is called the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act, otherwise known as the CARD Act.

This legislation has helped prevent the marketing of credit cards on college campuses throughout the country, a change that can let parents breathe a little bit more easily and that will save naïve students from racking up unneeded credit card debt while in school. But this protective measure leaves some stay-at-home parents/spouses feeling less-than their counterparts.

The CARD Act doesn’t specifically say that college students can’t get credit cards. More specifically, the limit is on anyone who doesn’t bring in income. It is easy to see, therefore, why some stay-at-home parents or spouses who don’t work might feel as though they are being treated as children when, in reality, they likely have equal access and rights to the money that their spouses bring home and, therefore, want the freedom to own and use a credit card.

Fox Business addresses this sensitive issue by reminding concerned consumers that there are options for them to have access to credit and the benefits credit cards offer. A spouse with no income might not be able to open up a card on their own, but they can be a joint user of their spouse’s credit card. Usually, it’s a team decision for there to be a stay-at-home parent, and part of that decision perhaps should be that each spouse still has equal access to the family’s credit cards.

Besides the mere freedom of having a credit card, some legitimately worry that being denied access to a credit card is being denied the opportunity to build a healthy credit score. Most of us, however, have more than credit card debt to pay off. There are student loans, home mortgage and other payments to make. These debts and how they are paid off play a huge part in a person’s credit score; credit cards are not necessary in order to have a strong credit rating.

With changes in the financial and lending industry, consumers should feel inspired to better understand the changes and why they were made. Financial hardship has taken a hold of many American households. To get through or avoid future hardship, families will benefit by talking consistently and openly about how to run a household that is financially secure but also fair to each partner.

Source: Fox Business, “Four Credit Card Myths of Stay-at-Home Spouses,” Jenna Herron, July 24, 2012