What happens to your credit after marriage?

August 7th, 2019 by Hilary

Are you getting married? 

Marriage is a big step for both your personal life and your finances.  As you build a life together, it’s important to understand exactly how your credit score might change as a result of your new commitments.  Marriage may not directly affect your score, but if you are applying for things like joint credit card accounts or mortgages, you may encounter the consequences of your spouse’s bad credit.   

In this article, we’ll clear up three common credit misconceptions associated with marriage. 

Myth: Marriage merges your credit scores. 

Marriage doesn’t merge your credit scores; rather, your scores stay separate.  Because credit scores are based on your individual Social Security number, you maintain your personal score.  You may have joint accounts, but your credit report won’t list anything solely in your spouse’s name. 

Myth: Once you change your last name, your credit history under your old name will disappear. 

Your credit history isn’t changed or erased just because you decide to change your surname.  Your credit history is connected to your Social Security number, not your name, and so your credit reports will list both your old and new names.   

However, it’s important to diligently check your credit reports during this transition because credit report errors are common with name changes.   You must correct any credit report errors as soon as possible, so contact Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. for a free case review.  Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. has helped thousands of clients correct errors on their credit reports at no cost to them. 

Myth: Shared credit cards become joint accounts. 

Credit cards do not automatically become joint accounts, and there are in fact multiple ways to share a credit card.  Two ways to share a credit card are as joint applicants and as an authorized user. 

A joint credit card account treats each applicant as equal.  This means that, while they have equal charging privileges, they also are equally liable for the debt.  With this type of account, you both must apply for the credit card at the same time. 

An authorized user account, however, works differently.  One person applies for the credit card as the primary user, and after the application is approved, he or she can add an authorized user to the account.  In this case, primary users are responsible for the debt on the card, but both users have charging privileges. 

In both cases, you want to make sure that you’re opening a card with a reliable and responsible partner.  Both types of accounts will appear on both users’ credit reports, but only an authorized user account will have the credit fall off once their account is closed. 

It’s important to closely monitor your credit when applying for a joint account or adding an authorized user.  You may notice errors that hinder your application or significantly lower your score.  If you notice any errors, you may be able to pursue legal action.  Contact Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. for a free case review. 

Use this knowledge to your advantage! 

If you plan on getting married soon, it’s a good idea to have a frank discussion with your partner about your finances.  Make a plan and build your credit scores together! 

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