Home > Credit 101 > Getting Married? Here Are Some Credit Tips

Comments 0 Comments

Let’s say that big day is quickly approaching—you’re getting ready to marry that special lifetime partner. If this is your situation, Congrats!  You’re probably spending this time tending to the hundreds of details associated with planning a wedding and beginning life as part of a married couple.

One aspect of marriage you’ll want to discuss sooner rather than later is your individual and joint approach to managing finances and credit. Let’s be honest, this is not always the easiest or most enjoyable conversation, but it is important, given that a primary reason for divorce often involves financial issues. The median age for a first marriage in the U.S. is in the mid-twenties according to the U.S Census, meaning that many people entering a marriage already have a source of income, some degree of established credit, and some level of experience managing a budget.

How to prepare

As a first step, each spouse should get a copy of their credit report (free at www.annualcreditreport.com) to ensure all information is accurately reported. Note, the credit you have legally contracted for as an individual (pre- and post-marriage) will always be reported as your credit and not become automatically “merged” with that of your spouse (credit bureaus store credit profiles on an individual basis). Any credit you obtain jointly will be reported on both of your credit reports, so it is really important to pay all your credit obligations (including joint accounts), as agreed, to maintain good credit on both of your credit reports.

[Featured tool: Get your free Credit Report Card from Credit.com]

Note, if one of you has less than perfect credit that negative credit history won’t transfer to the other spouse’s credit report. But, it may affect your ability to get future credit (or credit at a lower cost) if you jointly apply for new credit. (When you apply for a loan jointly, the lender will typically pull both credit reports.) In some situations, it may be wiser for the spouse with the cleaner credit to apply individually and let the other spouse’s credit history improve over time.

If you are taking your spouse’s surname, you should notify your current creditors as well as the Social Security Administration of this change. It is not necessary to notify the credit bureaus of a name change, as they will automatically update the name on a credit report when your lenders report the revised name.

Lastly, it is a good idea to keep several credit accounts in your own name as a safeguard in the event of an emergency, death of a spouse, or a divorce. Doing this will ensure you have an individual credit history.

Whether you are married or single, the basic rules of sound credit management will result in a positive credit rating—paying your bills on time, keeping your level of credit indebtedness low and only seeking credit when needed.

[Featured Product: Looking for credit cards for bad credit?]

Image: Steffen, via Flickr

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team