Marriage means a lot of things: love, happiness… and a merging of finances. If you’re a newlywed or about to tie the knot, you may have questions regarding your credit and new financial situation. Here are answers to a few of the most common questions for new spouses.
When I get married, will my spouse and I share a credit score?
No. Every individual has his or her own credit score, which is linked to your social security number. It’s a myth that getting married merges your credit scores, though there are other ways your finances will be joined.
Can my spouse and I use each other’s accounts?
Yes. As a married couple, you and your spouse will be authorized to use one another’s accounts, but only if the original account holder signs off on it. Otherwise, you can open a shared account as joint account holders. A banker can help you work through your options.
Will my personal accounts and spending affect my spouse?
This is a dangerous question to ask. While your individual accounts don’t affect your spouse’s credit score, your financial behavior may impact future decisions the two of you plan to make together. For example, maybe you’re a woman who has a shopping “habit” and you keep it hidden from your spouse on a personal credit card. This won’t affect his finances, but your high balance could cause the two of you to be declined when you try to take out a mortgage to buy a house later on. The bottom line is, you can keep personal accounts, but spending on them should never be a secret.
How will my spouse’s credit affect mine?
There are various ways your spouse’s credit might affect yours, depending on how you choose to allocate your finances. For example, if you sign for a loan or credit card together, but later end up parting ways, you are both still responsible for the payment of the debt, regardless of who wracked it up.
Similarly, perhaps you have a better credit score than your spouse, so you agree to take out a loan for his car in your name to get a lower interest rate. Even though it’s his car, the loan is in your name, so you’re ultimately responsible for seeing that the payments are made each month.
As you can see, while you’ll each maintain individual credit scores, your finances will be linked in more ways than one. The important thing is to have open and honest conversations about money early in the relationship.