Marriage and Credit: 6 Common Myths

Photo (cc) by Lel4nd

You’re in the midst of the most important time of your life. The countdown has begun, and you’ll soon be one with your soul mate.

But have you taken a moment to think about how the two of you will handle money matters? How will the new union affect your credit? And do you even know your soon-to-be spouse’s credit score?

Here are six common myths about marriage and credit you should be aware of:

1. Saying “I do” merges our credit profile

There is no such thing as a joint credit score reported by each of the three major credit bureaus. When you marry, the only modifications made to your credit profile will be your last name (if it changes) and perhaps a new address. In most cases, this doesn’t happen until you notify the creditors or open new accounts.

Once the updates are made, be sure to review your reports for errors, omissions and duplicate records.

2. My spouse’s credit affects my credit

Assuming the two of you had separate accounts before marriage, they will remain that way once you tie the knot. Your debt remains your debt and your spouse’s debt remains your spouse’s debt. Your credit score has no impact on your spouse’s score.

3. An authorized user is the same as a co-signer

When you add someone to your credit card as an authorized user, that person will be granted several benefits: They can use the card, they can benefit from your excellent payment history (but won’t be penalized if you don’t pay the bills on time), and they won’t be on the hook for the debt if you don’t pay the bill.

On the other hand, a co-signer or joint account holder will be tied by a ball and chain to the creditor, and the responsibility will fall back on them if you don’t pay.

4. Once I sign on as an authorized user, I’m stuck

If you’re an authorized user, you can opt out at any time by notifying the creditor, even if you’ve created a mountain of debt on the credit card. At that point, the history of the account will also disappear from your credit profile.

However, Experian notes:

Some states have community property laws that automatically make joint any accounts entered into during marriage. If so, the only way to be removed as a responsible party for the debt is to contact the credit card provider and negotiate with it to change the contract.

5. My partner’s bad credit will hurt my chances at obtaining new credit

Assuming you have a strong credit score and you do not disclose your spouse’s information, you shouldn’t have a problem getting approved if you meet all of the criteria.

However, that’s not necessarily the case if you apply jointly. Your spouse’s poor credit history can subject you to higher interest rates and possibly denial.

An excellent example of this is a mortgage, where an increase of a few percentage points equates to thousands of dollars. Says Realtor.com:

Buying a home with a spouse or domestic partner who has a checkered credit history can hurt your financial future. When you apply for a mortgage loan using your joint income, each partner’s credit history typically is weighed equally. If one of you has been dodging creditors or paying bills late, you are likely to pay a higher interest rate to offset the perceived risk of default.

6. If we divorce, I’m off the hook

Making the decision to part ways does not mean you’re free from joint financial commitments made during the marriage, no matter what the divorce decree says.

Need a credit boost?

Do you or your spouse have bad credit? Here are a few things you can do to make things better:

  • Pay all of your bills on time.
  • Reduce credit card balances and keep your credit utilization low — no more than 20 percent — once you have done so.
  • Refrain from opening many new accounts.
  • Implement a budget to foster responsible spending patterns and saving efforts.

Were you aware of these myths? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home
15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home

These free movie streaming sites offer thousands of movies and TV shows, including recent releases and beloved classics. If you love free movies, online sites are where you need to look for the best list of features that are just one easy click away.

14 Service Providers Most Likely to Lower Your Bill If You Ask
14 Service Providers Most Likely to Lower Your Bill If You Ask

With these companies, it might be easier than you think to negotiate your monthly bill down.

How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases
How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases

Stop getting sucked into paying a premium when good alternatives are available at huge savings.

7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time
7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time

Here’s why I hung up my scissors and quit clipping coupons.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

Prices Are Soaring on These 7 Items
Prices Are Soaring on These 7 Items

Some surprise price jumps are making life more difficult for consumers.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

7 Home Improvements That Cost a Lot More in 2021
7 Home Improvements That Cost a Lot More in 2021

These projects will take a bigger bite out of your budget than in the recent past.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.