Question of the Day [Women's History Month]: When were women first able to get credit cards without a co-signer?

Mar 21, 2021
Question of the Day, Credit Cards

Hat tip to Beth Tallman for recommending this question. 

Answer: 1974 with the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age in credit transactions.” 


  • Why do you think it took until 1974 for women to apply for a credit card without a co-signer? 
  • What do you think has changed since 1974 as it pertains to women's participation in the job market? 

Click here for the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

Behind the numbers (Smithsonian Magazine):

Many banks required single, divorced or widowed women to bring a man along with them to cosign for a credit card, and some discounted the wages of women by as much as 50 percent when calculating their credit card limits.

As women and minorities pushed for equal civil rights in various arenas, credit cards became the focus of a series of hearings in which women documented the discrimination they faced. And, finally, in 1974—forty years ago this year—the Senate passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which made it  illegal to discriminate against someone based on their gender, race, religion and national origin.


More Women's History Month Questions of the Day:


About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.