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What Happens to Your Credit When You Get Married?

What Happens to Your Credit When You Get Married?

What happens to your credit reports and credit scores when you get married? There are all kinds of common misconceptions about merging reports and falling credit scores. Luckily, these myths aren’t true. Here are the five most common marriage and money myths:

1. Our Credit Reports Will Merge Together When We Get Married

This is probably the most common marriage myth. Credit reports are keyed off each person’s individual Social Security number. Since your Social Security numbers don’t merge together into one number when you get married, neither do your credit histories.

2. Marriage Will Lower My Credit Scores

Huge amounts of credit card debt from funding your wedding and your honeymoon may harm your credit scores, but the act of getting married will not. Nothing automatically changes on your credit reports when you get married, so nothing should impact your credit scores.

3. When I Change My Last Name, My Credit History is Erased

If you change your name after you are married and report this change to your creditors, you will see some updates to your existing credit reports. Along with your old name, your new name will be listed as an alias. You will not have to start from scratch with a new credit history. There may be a few inaccuracies on your report as this transition takes place, so it’s important to check your credit report frequently during this period.

4. My Spouse’s Poor Credit Will Hurt My Credit Scores

This is a common concern for couples about to get married. Fortunately, your spouse’s past credit history has no impact on your credit profile. Only when you open a joint account will any information be shared on both of your credit reports. However, when you want to buy a home together, your spouse’s negative credit history could impact your mortgage rates. You should work together to improve your sweetheart’s credit if you are planning for a major purchase.

5. I Will Automatically Become a Joint User on My Spouse’s Accounts

Marriage doesn’t automatically make you an authorized user or co-signer on your spouse’s accounts. If you wish to be added to your spouse’s credit cards, you will need to call the creditors with this request. Please note that being added as an authorized user will not result in the account being factored into your credit score. As for loan accounts, becoming a co-signer for a loan usually requires refinancing.

Congratulations on your marriage! Now that you don’t have to worry about these common marriage myths, you can spend more time enjoying being newlyweds!

  • Thomas J Marlo

    Can my wife’s negative credit be reported as an inquiry on my credit report?

    • Credit Experts

      No. Even when you marry, your credit reports stay separate, except in the case of joint or authorized user accounts. You can learn more here:
      What Happens to Your Credit When You Get Married?

    • Douglas James

      Didn’t you read the article? Good Grief

  • fran

    what happens in the death of my spouse

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Do you mean in terms of your credit reports and scores? You will still need to pay any joint debts you shared but your spouse’s individual debts shouldn’t affect your credit. And please accept our condolences for your loss.

  • Lindsay

    I had a late credit card payment several years ago but since have had a low balances and good payment history. I want to add my husband as an authorized user to help build credit history. Will my late payments from years ago hurt him?

    • Credit Experts

      Only that one account (the card you add your husband to) will affect his credit.

  • Credit Experts

    How bad were the late payments (less than 30 days would be ideal, because that wouldn’t be on your credit reports). Negative information will fall off your credit reports 7 years and 180 days after the account was reported late, so it’s still there. Two years of on-time payments is good, but it would be better if more time has passed since the late payment (was it just one?). The fewer the late payments, and the closer they were to being on time, the better for your husband.

  • Lloyd Christmas

    What happens if your spouse signs up for a credit card behind your back and uses your social security number? If we divorce who pays the charges?

    • Credit Experts

      Using someone else’s Social Security number without their permission is identity theft. If you don’t want to be saddled with the debt from that card, the card issuer will want to see a police report.

      You could also consider closing the account to prevent additional charges.

  • Water

    Well, Lloyd, I agree with, that is ID theft. If you want to close that account, that is fine. But, it may lower your credit score if you do that. Also, another option: If you think your PII may have been compromised, place a “fraud victim alert” and a “credit freeze” on your profile. That will prevent any credit from being issued in you name. Also, if you do that, file a police report.

  • rumadyet

    I know I sound bitter, but wiser. I had great credit and it all went south and it was legal. Be careful with your financial future , not one else will. When the love is gone, who will protect you? Know the laws. This can happen in 5 years, 10 years or 25, or 35; be very careful.

  • jasmine

    I am about to be married and I have poor credit . My fiancee however has just filed bankruptcy and we are looking for an apartment to lease… I’m not sure if we will be approved.

    • Credit Experts

      You’re right that it could be challenging, and you could have fewer choices than if you had better credit. Still, there’s reason to hope you’ll find something. Here’s a post that may be useful to you:
      How to Rent With Bad Credit

      Good luck finding a place and rebuilding credit as you build a life together.

  • Krissy

    I’ve been paying all my bills on time and have worked really
    hard over the last year not to have any late payments-and I haven’t. Just got
    married and because of old debts (several years old) were paid off and still on
    there and it’s affecting us. His credit is going down only because he has to
    take everything out in his name-what’s the best way to get rid of old debt that’s
    been paid for several years? I’ve heard of credit sweepers-is this legit?

    • Credit Experts

      Hi, Krissy —

      Good for you that you are monitoring your credit.

      Unfortunately, some credit-repair companies are not legit. We wrote about the problem here:
      the truth about credit repair

      Here’s another resource that may be useful to you in rebuilding credit: How to Rebuild Credit

      Good luck to you; your old debt will have less of an impact on your scores as time goes by. It’s important to control what you can now — by paying on time and building a positive history from now on out.

  • Credit Experts

    It couldn’t hurt (although it’s unlikely to help if you live in a community property state). We wrote about it here:
    Can a Prenup Protect Your Finances?

  • Credit Experts

    It shouldn’t. You can read more here: 3 Ways Love Can Affect Your Credit Scores.

  • Michael Bovee

    When did your husband first fall behind on the payments to his creditors?
    What state do you live in?
    Was he ever sued for any of those debts?

    Your answers to those questions could mean you do not have to do anything special at all.

    • Kika

      Years ago before we got married, Maine. Not yet

      • Michael Bovee

        The statute of limitations for collecting through the courts in Maine is 6 years. After that amount of time passes, debt collectors are practically toothless.

        Has it been more than 6 years?
        Do any of his original creditors still show up as charged off accounts on his credit reports?
        Are the collection agencies showing on his credit?

        I would want to purchase the house in my own name, or through an entity I set up for the purpose.

        Talk to a bankruptcy attorney in your area about your husband filing bankruptcy. You will likely not want to choose that option as the household assets (marital) can be part of the equation.

        If he has never been sued for collection, and there are no judgments, your joint checking account is not in any jeopardy from his old credit card collections.

        • kika

          Michael, this is so helpful! You asked me: Has it been more than 6 years? YesDo any of his original creditors still show up as charged off accounts on his credit reports? Yes
          Are the collection agencies showing on his credit? Yes

          • Michael Bovee

            Most types of negative items can stay on credit reports for up to 7.5 years. If it has been more than 6 years since he stopped paying those bills, but less than 7.5 years for this stuff to drop from his credit reports, you wait.

            If it has been longer then 7.5 years since he first fell behind with creditors, but those creditors AND the debt collectors who picked up the accounts, continue to show up, he can file disputes. Here is a good primer on how to get that in motion:

  • Auto Cad

    NO! Just open YOUR OWN separate bank account that he will not know of.
    If you can trust your child with that I will put it under his/her name.
    Good Luck, and congratulation on the future purchase of your new home .

  • cj

    I’m Planning to get married. My fiance has some student loans and taxes before we met. I know if get stuff jointly it will be both partners credit. If i change my last name to his, will it ruin my good credit?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      His individual student loans should not affect your credit reports. If he is in default though it could affect any joint tax refunds. This article may be of interest: Could Your Spouse’s Tax Problems Affect You?

      • cj

        Thank you

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