Can Your Spouse Hurt Your Credit Score? The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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There are different ways that getting married, or divorced, can impact your credit score. Let’s take a quick look at some of the more common ways that your spouse can affect your credit:

The Good:
If you and your spouse go in together to get a home, car, or personal loan, then both of your credit scores will factor into the bank’s decision. In this case, your spouse’s score does affect the bank’s decision, but it does not actually affect your own score.

The best advice in this scenario is to have the person with the lower credit score take the time to raise their score before applying. If this is not possible then consider just having the person with the higher credit rating apply for the loan on their own.

You can also list each other as Authorized Users on your credit accounts. If you keep low balances, and make timely payments, then both of you get to have the advantage of boosting your credit through sharing your accounts.

The Bad:

Combining your credit accounts with your spouse does open you up to some risk if things in your marriage start to go sour.

Authorized user accounts are one example of a situation where your spouse can damage your credit score, and you can damage theirs.

When you list your spouse as an “Authorized User” you are assuming the responsibility for any charges they make on your credit card. If your spouse is angry with you, or you are going through a divorce, then the best thing to do is remove your spouse’s name from your credit accounts immediately. Otherwise you will have a legal obligation to repay whatever they charge. If they charge more than you can pay, or go over the limit, you are the one liable for the payments, not them.

The Ugly:

When Your Spouse Takes Off With Your Credit Cards:

If you are going through a messy divorce, or a heated argument, and your spouse has taken off with your credit cards, then you need to treat this as identity theft. If you do not, then you are liable for any charges that they make, and you do have to pay it back.

An un-authorized credit-happy spouse can not only cost you thousands of dollars, but they will cost you your good credit rating as well! If your cards are ever charged above 30% of their total limits you can expect your credit score to drop.

When Your Spouse Takes Off With Your Social Security Number:

It’s sad to say, but there are a whole lot of people out there who have had this happen. They get a divorce, and the next thing they know, they are being turned down for credit. What they did not realize is that their ex spouse used their personal information to open up credit accounts and get loans.

Again, this is identity theft. No matter how much you might want to care for, or protect the person, this is identity theft. You can either accept what they have done, and foot the bill, or you can report it as identity theft and press charges if you need to. There really are no other options.

Also, if you accept the theft of your information, and continue paying the bills for your spouse, your credit rating will suffer. This will not only cost you whatever amount of money they borrowed in your name, it will cost you thousands of dollars in additional interest on your future loans or mortgages because of your damaged credit rating.

Have a question for us? Leave a comment below!

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9 Responses to “Can Your Spouse Hurt Your Credit Score? The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly”

  1. Dan Ray Says:

    Excellent piece. The governing law is the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, a law passed in 1974. It intent was noble — to help married women (particularly, those who are stay-at-home housewives) establish credit in their own names.

    It requires creditors that provides information to credit bureaus to report payment activity for both spouses on joint credit accounts and on accounts where a spouse is an authorized user.

    As you point out, the knife cuts on both sides. In a divorce, bad behavior by either party damages the other’s credit score.

  2. Marcia Says:

    My question is: if my husband open a credit card and got me a credit card and that account how would that affect my credit score if I want to take my name off the account. I dont want the credit card.

  3. JWC Says:

    I owe a substantial amount on credit cards and am trying to pay it down. My wife has no idea that the balance is so high as the cards are in my name only and I make the payments. I am 69 years old and am concerned about passing this debt to my wife in case of death before I am able to pay it off. Would she be responsible even though she did not co sign for the cards? Practically all of our assets are in her name. Assuming that she would be liable, what do you think about a term life policy to cover the debt? I am in pretty good health and should have no trouble qualifying for at least a standard rate.

  4. Fina Says:

    My finacee and I plan on getting married soon but I’m a little hesitate because I have bad credit and he has excellent credit. Is there a way to guard his credit so that when we do tie the knot it doesn’t effect his score?? Can you point me in the right direction

  5. Ray Says:

    I have a credit card that has gone to collection. When I was married, my wife insisted she be added to the card. I acquiesced and had her added to the account. We are now divorced, and of course, the collection agency has been hounding her as well. Is it possible to make a formal request to have my ex-wife removed from the collection activity and the negative information removed from her credit so that I am only responsible for arrangement and payment? If so, what’s the verbiage I should use to communicate this to the collection agency? Thanks in advance for your assistance!

  6. Tina Says:

    While going through my divorce I found out that my husband at the time had opened up a credit card under my SSN. I tried to go to the police about it and they told me that it was legal because we were mairried at the time that he opened up the card. He also told that because we were married that my husband could sign my name and it me legal too. That just doesn’t sound right to me. I am wonder 1) is it true and 2) were do I find that information out?

    Thank you,

    Tina Johnson

  7. Jessica Says:

    Tina, did you ever get anything straight with your situation? I am kind of in the same. My ex-husband also applied for a credit card app in my name while we were separated and now my wages are being garnished for this debt that he made. I was also told by a sheriff that there probably wasn’t anything I could do since we were still married at the time.

  8. kcook Says:

    If my name is on a loan i signed for my husband when we were married and now we are divorce and he has let the loan go over 60 days late on several occasions, how do i let the credit bureau know that this is his truck and his responsibility?

  9. patrick nanery Says:

    My question is can my wifes ex husband who still lives in their house (he refuses to refi to get her name off the loan) and isn’t making the payments affect my credit now that she and I are married? They guy is a total douche she had to file B.R. because he made her take the kidsand credit card debit(which is all the furnishings in the house) when they seperated and he took the house which he isn’t paying for!

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