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What Happens to Your Credit When You Get Married?

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How does marriage affect my credit score

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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, many of these myths aren’t true. Here are the five most common marriage and money myths, followed by a primer on how marriage can actually affect your credit.

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.

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    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. (You can also view your free credit report snapshot on

    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 may not automatically result in the account being factored into your credit score. You’ll want to ask your creditor if they report authorized users to the major credit reporting agencies. As for loan accounts, becoming a co-signer for a loan usually requires refinancing.

    How Does Marriage Affect Credit?

    Marriage may not directly affect your credit. But there are a few ways your new union, among other life events, can wind up affecting your personal credit scores. For instances, if you do elect to open a bunch of joint credit cards with your beloved, those accounts — and whether they’re in good standing or not — will appear on your credit reports and factor into your credit scores. Plus, as we alluded to earlier, there are ways your beloved’s bad credit can come back to haunt you.

    Say, for instance, you need to apply for a mortgage together, since both incomes must be factored into your debt-to-income ratio for you to qualify. Mortgage lenders are going to pull both of your credit scores — and your spouse’s less-than-stellar standing is probably going to net you a higher rate than you yourself otherwise would have qualified for. The effects could then become cyclical: A higher mortgage could make it harder to make your other loan payments on-time or require you to revolve higher balances on your credit cards — which, yes, will hurt your credit. That’s why it’s important for married couples to be honest with each other about their credit standing and to work together to improve a partner’s bad credit score over-time.  

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      • 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

      • Carrissa

        I got married a year ago and my credit score is still under my maiden name. How do I get that fixed?

        • Credit Experts

          If you have changed your name legally and have changed the names on your accounts, it shouldn’t be a problem. Because your Social Security number is unchanged, you should be fine. But certainly you can check your credit reports to see if the new name has been added. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

        • JustJenna

          When you get married, you don’t have to do anything legal to change your name. You just start using the new last name. Inform your creditors and call the credit bureaus. You also need to inform the banks hospital and social security administration. Your marriage certificate is proof.

          • Credit Experts

            Jenna —
            You’ll need your marriage certificate to get your name changed with Social Security — and once you do that, you may also want to get a new driver’s license, etc. It should not be necessary to call credit bureaus (nor is it necessary to change your name when you marry, for that matter).

      • Lorilu

        I think it is important to keep your inheritance money separate from your joint marital funds. I know that in some states, inherited funds are outside of joint/community property, for purposes of divorce and the equitable distribution of marital property. It also seems that it would be good to keep the house in your name because of his daughter from a previous relationship. Should the house be jointly held, and your husband (heaven forbid) pass away, his daughter would inherit a share of everything he owns–including your home.

      • Aricka Goetz

        If my fiancé has a bunch of debt and creditors will they come after me and start taking money out of my check?

      • Joe

        I am getting married in 1 year. My fiance is currently trying to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy. What happens if she can’t file until after we are married? None of her debt is in my name and we don’t have anything joint. will this affect me in any manner?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It shouldn’t affect your credit but it’s possible that your income could push her over the threshold to qualify for a Chapter 7 case. Make sure she talks with her bankruptcy attorney before you file the knot.

      • AshleyD

        I have a mortgage i took out with my ex husband when we were married. we got divorced i’m no longer on the deed to that house, but he refuses to remove my name from the mortgage (I dont and never have given a penny for this house) bc they want to charge him $20,000 for refinancing. Its so unfair that I’m still connected to someone I want nothing to do with and I don’t want to be held responsible for something I have nothing to do with. I’ve tried to file a dispute with Experian to have it removed, but they said I’m still responsible on paper because we got the mortgage together. But now my current boyfriend and I want to buy a house (our offer got approved) and Im considering mortaging 20% of the offer.

        Any help how to get this crap off my credit???

        • Gerri Detweiler

          The only definitive solution I can think of to get your name off that mortgage is bankruptcy–but that won’t help you buy a home in the short term.

      • Jess15

        Married when I took a student loan and hasn’t been paid. Will this affect spouse credit history and from pruchasing a car?

      • Alex

        If my wife is a house wife. Can she co sign for my son a new car?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          The lender may consider income available to her, but it depends on their policy.

      • Dena

        My sister in-law and her husband are purchasing a house together with their VA loan. My sister in-law has bad credit and was wondering if she puts her name on the home, can the creditors that she owes money to come after the home?

        • Gerri Detweiler

          If there is equity in the home and she is sued for the debt it is possible that they could try to place a lien on the home. Before shed proceeds it may be a good idea for her to consult a consumer bankruptcy attorney.

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