Joint credit cards: Yay or Nay?  

by Kristina on June 23, 2014 · 5 comments

Credit Card

Good morning Dinks.  Let’s talk about your relationship and your money for a moment, shall we?  Is your money better than your spouses?  The odds are that one person in a relationship has a better off financial situation than the other.  Both may be good or both may be bad, but either way they are probably not identical – one is always better than the other.

For richer and poorer

If your credit score is better than your spouses do you feel a sense of pressure to keep all your couple’s money in order?  It’s very possible that you do.  That’s OK if you and your spouse decided that one person will manage the household finances.  It’s also OK if you (as the financially better off spouse) are helping your (not so great with money) spouse rebuild their credit score.  It may not be OK to take on the responsibility of managing all your household finances if it’s creating a burden on your relationship.

There is a difference between marrying someone who has a less than desirable financial situation who is working towards rebuilding their financial life  and someone who is just so bad with money they always want the responsibility to fall on another person.  In my mind the first situation is OK, not ideal but it’s OK.  However having your spouse actually create a financial burden in the relationship is not OK.

How can you help your spouse rebuild their financial life?

Having to be the sole person in a relationship responsible for managing the household finances is very stressful and it will most likely create friction in your relationship.  It’s also not fair the spouse who carries the burden.  So how do you compromise?  With a joint credit card of course.

If you need to help your spouse rebuild their credit a joint credit card may be the way to go because a joint credit card holds both cardholders equally responsible.  A joint credit card gives each cardholder individual responsibility to pay off the balance in full and it is reported on each spouses credit score.  It uses your good credit score to get approved and as you both use the card and pay it off your good habits will help rebuild your spouse’s financial situation.

Would you still say “I Do”?

If you knew your spouse had a less than desirable financial situation while you were still dating, would you still get married?  It’s OK to want to help improve your spouse’s financial situation but  where the grey line appears with joint credit cards is when it comes to spending and repaying the outstanding balance.

If your spouse spends and you don’t how do you keep each other in balance and not let disagreements about money ruin your relationship.  My advice is to keep the credit limit low and help your spouse learn about financial responsibility by making it their duty to make the payment in full each month.

Photo from Flickr

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brock @cleverdude June 23, 2014 at 7:41 am

“Is your money better than your spouses? The odds are that one person in a relationship has a better off financial situation than the other.” <— this just seems odd to me, because I'm a big proponent of couples combining their finances after marriage. If they are true partners, and combine their lives and finances their financial picture should be extremely similar. Our home, cars, and all our financial accounts are all in both our names. If we would compare our credit reports and our scores, they are also almost identical – because everything is combined.

2 Marc June 23, 2014 at 9:04 am

I feel every relationship is different. There’s nothing wrong with having separate bank accounts. There’s also nothing wrong with having shared accounts. Couples need to do what works best for them. Just because you are married doesn’t mean that you both have the same short term goals and even some of your long term goals may be different. With communication you both can get credit scores in line. You may have different approaches to get there.

3 Tim June 26, 2014 at 1:24 am

This was a confusing article. Not sure how joint credit card to help build other spouse’s FICO helps that person in terms of being financially responsible. What helps is to ensure both spouses are actively participating in managing both finances. For those who want to live in a marriage but separate, you should consider that the “marriage” is impacted regardless of separating finances since all those things impacted by FICO will default to the lower score. Anyway, you help your spouse by ensuring they have a credit history, they have a record of financial history (e.g. an individual account for both), and both partners are actively involved in managing the finances. This is rebuilding financial life, not merely getting a joint credit card.

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