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Will My Spouse’s Bad Credit Hurt My Good Credit?

Dec. 15, 2014
Credit Score, Personal Finance
Will My Spouse's Debt Hurt My Good Credit?
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Handling finances within a marriage can either be a piece of cake or seem complicated and complex, especially if your spouse’s credit isn’t as healthy as yours. You may be asking yourself if your spouse’s credit history could hurt your good credit.

If you’ve already tied the knot or are thinking of getting married, you should know a few things. Marriage itself does not affect your good credit or your individual credit report. In fact, you will always have a separate credit report from your spouse. Even if you change your last name, your good credit will still exist, since credit scores and reports are based on your Social Security number.

Your spouse’s credit, in turn, will not instantly improve just because of your married relationship.

However, your good credit has the potential to become damaged when and if you and your spouse commingle your credit.

Your good credit might help your spouse if you co-sign on a credit product such as a car loan, and pay as agreed. Simply applying together will not have an effect on your credit, though your spouse’s poor credit could result in a higher interest rate or even a rejection.

The same is true if you and your spouse apply and take advantage of offers for credit cards for people with good credit. If you apply for a credit card jointly with your spouse and are approved, reports for that credit card will appear on both your credit reports, negative or positive.

If you are set on combining your credit without giving up your ability to apply for credit cards for people with good credit, one option would be adding your spouse as an authorized user to your existing credit cards or new ones.

Becoming an authorized user on a spouse’s card allows your spouse to share the credit card, but any late payments could hurt both users’ credit. A negative mark won’t hurt an authorized user’s VantageScore but it could hurt a FICO score.

Many financial advisors, however, recommend that to protect your credit, you keep your credit separate from your spouse’s at least until your spouse’s credit record improves (here are some tips on how to build credit). It is also a good idea for spouses to sit down and review credit reports and scores at least annually.

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