What Happens to Your Credit Score after Marriage?

Your credit score determines your eligibility for new credit and loans. It may also affect your insurance rates and career opportunities. Many individuals have concerns about how their credit scores will be affected once they get married. Luckily, your spouse’s credit only impacts you in certain situations.

Your Credit Report after Marriage

The information contained in your credit report determines your credit score. Getting married, however, has no direct effect on your credit report. Your spouse’s credit report will also remain unaffected by the marriage itself.

If you opt to change your name after your wedding, your new name will appear on your credit report along with the rest of your personal information. Because your personal information isn’t included in scoring calculations, changing your name after marriage does not impact your credit score.

Individual Accounts and Joint Accounts

When you open up a new account with a creditor, the creditor may report your account to the credit bureaus. This results in the account appearing on your credit report. The type of account you have, how much you owe and your payment history all contribute to your credit score. Your new spouse, however, does not benefit from your good credit history merely by being married to you. If an account exists solely in your name, it will appear on your credit report only.

Should you opt to open up a joint account with your spouse, however, the account will appear on both of your credit reports. When a couple owns a joint account, both individuals are responsible for making payments on the debt. This results in the debt affecting both spouses’ credit scores.

Authorized Users

After you get married, you may wish to allow your spouse access to your credit card account. You can contact your credit card company and add your spouse to your account as an authorized user. An authorized user is similar to a joint account holder in that the credit card and its payment history appear on the user’s credit report and impact his score. Unlike a joint account holder, however, an authorized user is not legally liable for any debts incurred on the account.

Good Credit vs. Bad Credit

No matter how good your credit score may be, if your spouse has bad credit this can pose a significant problem when you shop for a loan as a couple. If you shop for a mortgage loan, for example, your spouse’s bad credit places the loan in a higher risk category. This can result in the two of you paying a higher interest rate than the loan would carry if the mortgage were in your name only. In this case, it may be in your best financial interests to apply for an individual mortgage loan until your spouse‘s bad credit improves.

Protect Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a result of your debt management habits. If your spouse has bad credit, this indicates that he made some unwise financial decisions in the past. Before you entrust the responsibility for paying all of the bills and handling the finances to your spouse, consider whether you are really willing to risk your good credit rating. Until your spouse can prove that his debt management skills have improved, consider handling the finances yourself.