Couple’s Credit: What Happens to your Credit Score when you get Married

Wedding rings on top of money.

Your credit history and your credit score remain your individual credit throughout your lifetime. But you may wonder what happens to your credit score when you get married? For better or for worse, becoming a couple can indeed affect your personal credit.

As you begin your life together, most likely you will share credit card accounts and take out loans together. Joint accounts do in fact influence your credit score when you get married. While an exciting time, make sure you both communicate clearly on where you stand financially. Make plans to work together to build a solid financial foundation. Today, we’ll share with you great information as it relates to your credit as a couple.

Married couple paying bills together.

How do credit scores work in a marriage?

First, let us clarify a common misconception about your credit score when you get married. If the love of your life has bad credit (or vice-versa), don’t believe that your credit score is doomed. In actuality, your credit score and your spouse’s score will remain the same upon tying the knot. It is only as you join accounts together that your financial behavior affects each other and each other’s credit rating. The only exception to this is when you both apply for a mortgage loan together. Poor credit scores do influence your success rate in getting the mortgage loan and the rate you will pay. More on that later.

Next, marriage does not automatically make either of you authorized users or co-signers on your established accounts. If you wish to be dually added on all credit cards, you will need to request this from your creditors.

Also, in order to add a spouse to any established loans, most likely you will need to refinance it. Joint accounts – whether in good or bad financial status –  are included in both credit reports and do factor into your individual credit score.

Tip: It is wise to ask each creditor if they report authorized users to the credit bureaus (some do and some don’t). This is good information to be aware as you build your financial foundation together.

Two wedding rings on top of credit report

Last to think about is taking someone’s name in marriage. As you notify Social Security and creditors about your name-change, they will, in turn, share that with the major credit bureaus. Your credit report will include both your old name and your new name. It is smart to watch your credit report as this happens. Sometimes errors can be made and these mistakes can hurt your credit score.

Facts about your credit score when you get married:

  1. You have your own individual scores. There is no “joint score”.
  2. When you get married, your score remains the same.
  3. As you apply for joint accounts, creditors will consider each of your individual scores.
  4. Both of your financial behavior on joint accounts (i.e. paying on time, balances) will affect each other’s scores.

Merging accounts

While it may be easier to manage joint accounts, it is wise for you to know:

  • Both of you are responsible for all accumulated debt in any joint accounts.
  • Regardless of who is racking up the debt, a missed or late payment on a joint account will negatively affect both of your credit reports. Be aware that in some states, even if an account has not been officially joined, the same can hold true.
  • If you miss a payment on an individual account, that may negatively affect your success in opening a joint account since both credit scores are considered.

Marriage and mortgages.

Man carrying woman

If as a couple you decide to buy a home together, you should be knowledgeable about how your credit histories influence your loan. Mortgage lenders will consider both of your incomes. Lenders will factor in your debt-to-income ratio to qualify. Mortgage lenders also will also request both of your credit scores. If one of you has a poor credit score, even if you have a strong score, the probability of you getting a low-interest rate is slim. This can affect your entire financial position. A higher mortgage may make things more difficult in making payments on other accounts or may cause you to have higher balances. These things can hurt your credit. Best bet is to catch bad credit early and attack it together.

In conclusion

The key to a successful financial future together is clear communication and goal setting. Make sure you sit down with your spouse to come clean of all finances, good and bad. Make a list of goals you have together and understand the implications that your financial behavior has on the other. Then, plan together action items that will help improve your credit.