A joint credit card, unlike an individual card, is held in the name of two people with equal access to the card. Both people need to apply and be approved, and they will have equal responsibility for repayments.
How does a joint credit card account work?
Joint credit cards operate in much the same way as joint bank accounts, where each cardholder has equal access to the account with their own physical card. And, much like a standard card, both partners use the card up to its credit limit.
Joint account holders can share in whatever rewards, if any, are available on the card. They also share the responsibility for debt repayment and any consequences resulting from failure to pay off the card on time, such as a bad credit score.
Joint credit cards differ from cards with an additional cardholder. In that setup, the additional cardholder is nominated by the primary cardholder and can use the card but does not share any responsibility for making repayments.
What to expect from a joint application
A joint credit card application is similar to what you’d see when you apply for a credit card on your own, except two people are applying. You can submit a joint application online, over the phone in some circumstances or by visiting a branch, as some providers may require in-person attendance.
As a rule, you’ll need to meet the same eligibility requirements as you would if you were both applying individually. Both applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents at least 18 years old.
Additionally, you’ll need to provide proof of income, usually through payslips, bank statements or tax returns, a breakdown of your regular expenses, and your assets and liabilities.
» MORE: How to get a credit card
Can you get a joint credit card in Australia?
Yes, but they aren’t commonly offered. Australian banks and credit card companies have been moving away from providing joint cards with shared liability. Instead, they prefer to have only one person responsible for each credit card account.
None of the Big Four Australian banks offer joint accounts and prefer additional cardholder arrangements.
Joint credit card options
Only a few providers offer joint credit card accounts, and each has their terms and conditions. Examples include:
- Hume Bank
- Community First Bank
- People’s Choice Credit Union
- Heritage Bank
- Bank Australia
- Australian Military Bank.
Should you get a joint credit card?
As with all things credit card-related, a joint credit card account has pros and cons to consider.
- Easily keep track of expenses. A joint credit card account can offer simplified money management. You pay your shared bills from one account and get an accurate measure of your monthly expenditure with each statement. It may also guard against excessive spending by one of the cardholders.
- Fee savings. A joint account will also save on the fees of having multiple cards.
- Access to more money. If one of the cardholders has a less-than-exemplary credit history, opening a joint account may give them access to more funds than they could get as an individual, which could be beneficial. But this is a double-edged sword because more spending on your credit card means more repayments.
- Can repair credit score. Similarly, if a cardholder with a poorer credit score can use a joint card responsibly and pay bills on time, it may help improve their credit rating in the long run.
- A way to build rewards points. Like individual cards, some joint cardholder accounts come with rewards, points and bonuses, and both parties are free to benefit from whatever that particular credit card offers.
- Providers and options are limited. There are relatively few providers for joint credit cards, so your options are limited. So, when comparing offerings, you could find yourself missing out on other types of credit cards. This means losing out on the features that come with more competition, such as favourable or honeymoon interest rates and greater rewards and points.
- The application could be declined despite your good credit score. If your partner has a relatively poor credit history, you may get rejected despite your good credit score and never having missed a payment in your life. If this occurs, you’ll need to consider other credit card options.
- Increased risk of debt. Similarly, you want to be sure that you and your partner are on the same page when you take on another source of debt, especially if they tend to be drawn to impulse buying or have trouble paying off debt.
- Adverse effect on credit score. If repayments become an issue, at some point, this will harm your credit rating because you are responsible for the debt on the card every bit as much as your partner is.
- Complications if a relationship sours. You’ll always require a certain amount of trust in another person to open a joint account, and a credit card is no exception. Money is a notorious source of conflict between partners. So before you decide to open a joint account, you should have a full and frank discussion about financial goals and spending habits. Ensure you’re prepared to be liable for debts in each other’s name.
Other ways to share a credit card
There are several ways to share a credit card in Australia apart from opening a joint account. These include adding someone to your existing card as an authorised user, either as an additional or supplementary cardholder, as long as you’re aware that you’re ultimately responsible for paying the bills on time.
Conversely, you can add a co-signer to your application. This person would act like a guarantor (such as with a home loan) and will make repayments if you cannot, for whatever reason.
Whatever you decide, you should ultimately go with what you feel most comfortable with while being fully aware of all your options.
Frequently asked questions about joint credit cards
Yes. Responsible use of a joint credit card can help improve the credit scores of both cardholders. On the flip side, misuse can similarly harm both cardholders.
Yes. There are no requirements for couples to be married when applying for a joint credit card. They both need to be eligible to apply.
Adding additional cardholder to your account will give them a supplementary credit card to use, but they aren’t responsible for repayments.
Getting approved for a credit card is very difficult if you have a bad credit score. And, even if you’re approved, you’ll probably be offered less favourable terms than an applicant with good credit.
Types of credit cards include rewards, low-interest, balance transfer and credit-building cards. When choosing a credit card, consider your spending habits and ability to repay the balance.