Home > Credit Score > Till Debt Do Us Part: Credit Tips for Newlyweds

Comments 0 Comments

Congratulations! You survived the big wedding day, hopefully enjoyed a blissful honeymoon and are now getting settled into married life. Successful marriages require a lot of effort on the part of both parties and the management of finances should be an important area of focus. As troubled financial issues are one of the leading causes of divorce, it is surprising how many newlyweds don’t engage in open discussions regarding money, assets and credit.

Most experts agree that creating a budget, agreeing on investment strategies and allocating responsibility for who pays what bills should take place early on in the relationship and be revisited on a periodic basis. This is sometimes a difficult conversation in today’s world given most people entering marriage have been financially independent for a number of years and are used to making these decisions on their own.

As a couple, you will likely be making many credit-related decisions in the near future — such as purchasing a home or automobile — and the following tips can help you be more informed as it pertains to credit.

Know Where You Stand

Both of you should obtain a copy of your credit bureau report to ensure the information contained on you is accurate and up to date. Follow the dispute resolution instructions if you find errors so they can be investigated and resolved as soon as possible.

If you have a healthy competitive relationship – order your credit scores to see who has the highest score and work together to improve each other’s credit scores if they are lower than desired. For example, paying off high interest credit card debt one spouse may be carrying helps you save money over the long run as well as add points to the score.

Create a schedule to periodically check your credit report in the future so you can be sure it is accurate before you apply for credit.

Don’t Cancel or Close Down Any of Your Preexisting Credit

Your credit file is created, stored and updated at the individual level – even when you are married. It is likely you have credit in your name that was opened before you got married – don’t cancel or close these down as it could hurt your score and leaving it as is will likely have no negative impact. In addition, it is a good strategy to maintain some level of credit in your own name in the event you end up divorcing or your spouse passes away. This is especially true if you plan for one of you to eventually be a stay-at-home parent (when it will be harder to get approved for new credit).

With your credit cards, you can always add your spouse as an authorized user versus opening up a joint account. Remember, once you do this that credit card account will be reported on both credit reports.

Only Apply for Credit When Needed

Many newly married couples are excited about starting their new home together and go a bit crazy buying new items (furniture, kitchen supplies, curtains, etc.). It may be tempting to open new store credit each time to get the “15% discount” – but a sudden ramp up of newly opened credit can have a negative impact on your score and could cause your cost of credit to increase as some lenders (in the car loan area for example) often set interest rates higher when credit scores are in the lower tiers.

Ensure the Bills are Paid on Time

In the beginning, over communicate to ensure the designated spouse is paying the assigned bills on time. Late payments can have a very big impact on credit scores.

Following these easy steps can help you manage your credit more effectively which will increase your access to wider range of lower cost credit – and reduce the stress often associated with managing a lower credit quality profile.

Image: Shelley Panzarella, 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