The answer is: It depends. Credit card providers, personal lenders, finance firms, your mortgage company and the credit bureaus don't know what you're making right now. When you applied for your loan or mortgage, however, they might have received your salary information at that time.
Credit Card Companies
If you applied for a credit card, the application most likely requested your household income. If you were pre-approved and received the solicitation in the mail, you may or may not have had to state what you make. Instant online applications rely on your credit score alone for approval. Don't bump up your income in the hopes of getting a higher credit limit. If you hit hard times and can't pay your bills, the credit card company could say you committed fraud by being dishonest about your salary.
Personal Lenders and Finance Firms
Cash advance or payday loan companies require proof of regular income. If your salary is your only regular income, you have to tell the lender what your salary is. If you want to qualify for credit based on other income, such as royalties, rental income, or Social Security, you don't have to provide your salary. A word of caution: cash advance or payday loan firms charge very high fees, as much as 25 percent of the loan every month. That's 25 percent a month, not 25 percent on an annual basis. Finance firms, which provide financing for large or luxury items such as cars and boats, may require you to state your income on the application, but not require you to verify your income through pay stubs. Your credit score and report is reviewed and the loan approved based on your stated income and that score. The finance firm is protected because the loan is secured by an asset, such as a car, boat or jewelry. If you default, the firm repossesses the asset.
When you apply for a mortgage, you provide your salary information. The mortgage company probably confirmed your employment, requested copies of your pay stubs, and most likely copies of your tax returns. So yes, the mortgage company knows your annual salary at the time you applied. That doesn't mean they know what you make currently. In the past, some mortgage companies would grant loans based on stated income. This was usually for those who were self-employed. It's nearly impossible now to get a home loan without income verification.
Credit bureaus, such as Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, compile your credit report and scores. These firms don't know your annual salary and don't include it in the score calculation. How much you make isn't important to them; rather, they focus on how you manage your debt. For example, someone who makes $36,000 a year could have a higher score than someone who makes $100,000 a year, if the lower paid person pays her bills on a timely basis and the other is always late.
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images