How to handle credit differences within marriage

July 14, 2019

When you get married, you and your partner may choose to combine your financial forces. But what does that mean for credit? If your and your spouse's scores vary significantly, it could be a source of friction in your relationship. Below are some pointers on how to handle credit differences within marriage.

Each of you is in control of your own credit. You will always have an individual credit report because that information is tied to your Social Security Number; being married doesn't change that. It's when you and your spouse take on loans, credit cards, and lines of credit together or co-sign other borrowing agreements that it matters. In such cases, if your spouse doesn't have the greatest credit, this impacts your chances of being approved for offers and securing lower rates and better terms.

One partner's bad credit doesn't have to be a hurdle, but you need to have a strategy when it comes to applications. If you have the better credit score and are concerned about having your joint application rejected, you can also apply for credit under your name and add your spouse later as an authorized user.

No matter what, it's essential that you discuss credit and get on the same page. After all, it helps if you are working toward the same financial goals. You may even find that it works best to avoid mixing credit together for a while until your partner can raise their score. Here are a few ways you may be able to help your spouse improve their credit:

  • Help them understand credit better and use it more responsibly.
  • Open a short-term joint credit account.
  • Encourage them to apply for a secured credit card.

Financial issues surface often in marriages. By understanding your separate credit situations, and potential combined one, you may avoid some misunderstandings down the road.

To read more about how marriage affects credit, go to:
- Will My Spouse's Bad Credit Hurt My Good Credit?
- 3 Ways to Help Your New Spouse Build Credit
- Don't check your spouse's credit report