Equal Credit Act’s Boost to Women’s Credit Access

Celebrating the Progress: The Equal Credit Opportunity Act’s Triumph over Gender-Based Discrimination

October 2019 marks the 45th anniversary of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), which prohibits credit discrimination by race, color, religion, national origin, marital status, age, being a recipient of public assistance, and sex.

To celebrate Internationals Women’s Day, Experian looked back at a time where women were plagued by discrimination before the enactment of the ECOA.

Before 1974:

  • Mortgage lenders often discounted the incomes of employed, married women within childbearing age under the assumption that they would take time off to raise children.
  • Banks often required single, divorced or widowed women to bring a man along with them to cosign for a credit card.
  • Proponents of the ECOA claimed that mortgage lenders were more likely to deny credit to single women relative to other applicants.

After the ECOA:

  • Lenders cannot base decisions on personal speculation about a woman’s earning potential or childbearing schedule.
  • Lenders consider women by the same rules, using objective data like income, credit scores, and existing debt load.

Having control of personal and family finances is essential for all women to help establish their own credit identities, Experian says. Whether single or married, women have shown lenders they can be financially responsible and are good credit risks.


The enactment of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974 stands as a landmark achievement against financial discrimination, particularly for women. This transformative law not only redressed historical injustices but also reinforced the principle that financial decisions should be based on objective criteria. As we celebrate the legacy of the ECOA, we must also recognize the perseverance and financial responsibility shown by countless women over the decades. Their journey reinforces the truth that everyone, irrespective of gender, deserves an equal shot at financial independence and stability.

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