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How Getting Married Affects your Credit Score

A fear some have when getting married is that their partners low credit or credit card debt will negatively impact their own credit score. There happens to be many misconceptions surrounding credit scores and marriage, and in fact a lot of what people believe about marriage and credit scores tend to be myths. Here’s some of those myths, and how getting married actually affects your credit score. 

Qualifying for Credit Cards 

Having good credit means that you can apply for a credit card yourself, but if you’re looking to open a joint account with your partner then both of your scores will be checked. So, while you can still apply for a credit card in your own name without your spouse’s credit history affecting your score and chances of getting approved, you’ll both need good credit to get those credit cards with greater rewards. In addition to this, a piece of advice we offer is making mortgage payments on time. If you don’t make a mortgage payment on time, it can hugely affect your credit score. 

Credit Reports Will Merge After Marriage 

This is something that is entirely untrue in every case, but many people fear for it and believe it to be true. Even if you open a joint account with your partner, your own credit score will not go down because each of you have credit to your individual social security number. While your credit reports won’t be merged together after marriage, if you both apply to open a credit card together both of your credits will be checked. This is a good route to help build credit, as a spouse with lower credit score can get approved for better credit cards with higher limits than what they would be able to qualify for with alone 

A Name Change Means New Credit and New History 

Sometimes people believe that changing their last name when they get married will give them a new credit and erase their old one. The only thing that changes in this situation is the name on the credit reports. As said in the previous misconception, credit is tied directly to your social security number, not your name. So, changing your last name won’t change anything about your credit and credit history. If anything, creditors not using your social security number to check credit history will be mildly confused about the difference in name, but anybody not using your SSN for credit checks, but trying to use your credit history for something is more than likely not a reputable financial institution. 

Your Spouse’s Bad Credit will Affect your Credit Score 

One thing that people who care a lot about their credit score tend to look out for is someone with bad credit. In fact, many people won’t even consider dating someone if they have a bad credit score. The truth is that their credit score has no impact on yours though. Even after you get married, their credit score stays linked to them through their social security number, and yours stays linked to you. Working together to improve your spouse's credit score is a great idea though, as their poor score could affect loans, mortgages, and more. In addition, while their score will not affect your score, and neither will their debts and any other outstanding obligations affect yours, in the case of a divorce, depending on how the proceedings go and how you may have structured your prenup agreement, you could end up responsible for their debt even if you were not the one who made it. 

Your Credit Accounts will be Joint After Marriage 

Credit cards won’t and can’t add you to your spouse’s card account automatically after marriage. The only way for you to be added onto their account and be responsible for paying off their debt with them is if they request you to be added. The account that you join onto will then be factored into your own credit score, most times this is a good thing as the credit limits will usually be increased, allowing for a lower income-to-debt ratio which improves your credit worthiness. 

With that, most of the misconceptions people have about marriage and credit have been covered. Overall, marriage has no effect on your own credit score, regardless of how good or bad your partners score is. However, your partners poor score will affect purchases, accounts, and a few other things in your future together if making these decisions jointly. 

Purchasing a House 

If you or your spouse has bad credit and you’d like to buy a house together, it can be difficult to be approved for the mortgage. Qualifying for a mortgage on one income is hard enough, which is why it’s common that both people in the relationship have their names on the mortgage. If this is the case for you though, the mortgage lenders will check both of your credit scores and history. While the combined income of you and your spouse will most definitely help you to qualify for the mortgage, a poor credit score can affect whether you get the best rates or the loan entirely. 

Handling the Bad Credit 

In most cases, you and your partner are going to want to work together to improve the bad credit score. This can be done in several ways, such as helping them to pay off the debt, and helping them to raise their credit. The partner with the greater score will want to decide how they’ll go about helping them though, as whichever route they choose will most likely affect their own score as well. 

There’s the option of the person with the better credit score to continue making all credit applications so that they get better rates and have a better chance of approval. This is the safe way to go to ensure that your own credit score isn’t affected, but it doesn’t do much in terms of helping your partner to fix their bad credit. What you can do is instead choose to apply jointly, having both of your names on credit-based applications. While this will no doubt give you higher interest rates and not the best offers, it’s the best way to help your partner build their score if you’re both willing to work together on fixing it. 

As always, we hope you take the best from this article, now knowing that getting married doesn’t affect your credit score at all, but it will have an impact on the financial future with your partner. 

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