The Pros and Cons of Having a Joint Credit Card

A joint credit card is one that is wholly owned by two people. That means that both people have an equal level of responsibility when it comes to the card. Either person can make a change to the account or charge something to the card(s). They’re both also obligated to pay off any debts associated with the card—regardless of which person made the purchases.

Whether or not it’s a good idea to have a joint credit card depends on a range of factors, including the credit scores of both people and the plan you have for managing this shared responsibility. Find out more about the pros and cons of joint credit card accounts below so you can make a decision about applying for a credit card together.

Can You Have a Joint Credit Card Account?

Yes, as long as you and the other person meet the requirements to be approved for the card, you can open a joint credit card account. Both of your credit scores and histories are factored into the approval decision. If you both have fair credit or better, it’s usually simple. If one of you has very bad credit, the other person may need very good credit to bring the overall “average” up so that approval is possible.

You also need to meet any individual or combined requirements the issuing credit card lender has. Banks might look at factors such as income, number of accounts already open or credit utilization. Again, if one of you has a less-than-desirable history in these areas, that fact may be overlooked if the other person has a stellar payment and credit history.

It’s worth noting that not all credit card programs offer joint account options. You also have to apply for a credit card that offers this option if you want to hold an account together.

Can a Married Couple Get a Credit Card Together?

Yes, married people who meet the qualifications for approval can get a joint credit card. But you don’t have to be married to apply for a credit card account together.

What Is the Difference Between a Joint Account and an Authorized User?

Joint credit cards are not the same thing as adding an authorized user to your account. When you add an authorized user to your account, you simply grant them the ability to make purchases with your account. The credit card company also issues them a credit card with their name on it that is tied to your account.

In some cases, an authorized user may also be able to speak to service reps about certain, but not all, matters associated with your account. For example, sometimes the authorized user can call the credit card company and ask not to be listed on the account anymore—without your permission to make that change.

However, an authorized user is not responsible for the balance on your account. Even if you decide to remove them from the account in the future, you’re still responsible for paying for any balance they created. This is in contrast with joint accounts, where both parties are held responsible for the balance.

Is a Joint Credit Card Account a Good Idea?

Whether or not a joint credit card—or an authorized user, for that matter—is a good idea depends on a variety of factors. When both parties are responsible for financial matters and can communicate clearly and regularly about money, it typically works out better if these aren’t weaknesses in the relationship. Couples who are considering a combined credit card account may want to think about whether they’re ready to join their finances.

If you do decide to get a joint credit card, make sure you’re both on the same page on what this will entail. Finances can cause a rift in a relationship, so it’s important to be transparent. Agree to make payments on time, discuss any major purchases, avoid getting to close too your credit limit, try not to fall into serious debt, etc.

What Are the Benefits of a Joint Credit Card?

Some benefits of a joint credit card include:

  • The ability to get a card even if one person doesn’t have stellar credit
  • Shared responsibility for the debt, which can decrease the burden of any balance
  • The potential for improving one person’s credit by them being associated with this card—this is also a possible benefit of being an authorized user
  • A greater likelihood for a couple that financial matters and spending will be discussed and planned together, since both people may end up seeing and dealing with resulting credit card statements

What Are the Disadvantages of a Joint Credit Card?

Some disadvantages of a joint credit card include:

  • The fact that you’re on the hook for any balance whether you agreed on the purchases or not, which could leave you scrambling to get out of credit card debt that you didn’t create
  • The need to close the credit card account if you ever want to separate your finances, because lenders don’t typically remove one party from the agreement
  • A potential hit to your credit score if the account is not handled well by either person, such as making late payments or falling into debt

How Does a Joint Credit Card Affect Credit Score?

A joint credit card impacts your credit score in much the same way other types of credit accounts do. If you make regular, timely payments, it’s a boost to your score. If you keep your balance low in relation to your credit limit, it could also boost your score. The same is true if you keep the card open for a long period of time, since age of accounts is just one factor impacting your credit score.

All this is true in the opposite direction, too. If no one pays the card regularly, if the balance is run up or if you have to close the account because you can’t agree with or trust your joint account holder, you could suddenly have a bad credit score on your hands. Plus, the impact is to both your scores, so before you jump into a joint credit card, make sure you both understand what’s on your credit report and that you have a plan for managing this financial tool to

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October 29, 2020

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