The Links Between Marriage
and Credit History

Does Marriage Affect Your Credit Score?

Talking marriage and credit history is not the most romantic conversation to have. Perhaps not romantic but extremely necessary. First the information contained in your credit report determines your credit score. And each of your credit scores will directly impact your finances after marriage. But marriage in and of itself had no effect on our credit reports.

For example, when I got married, my credit report and score stayed separate from that of my spouse. Likewise, his credit report and score remained unaffected and stayed separate from me. So getting married had no direct effect on each of our credit reports. As a matter of fact, his score was so low after his having gone through a divorce, that I did not want our credit reports to be co-mingled! So a bad credit history cannot be wiped clean by marrying someone with good credit.

Some people have the mistaken belief that after marriage they will be starting a new, joint credit record for their marriage . Remember the vows you took "And the two shall be one"? Well that is not the case in terms of your credit history. You keep yours and he keeps his.

What if I Change My Name

If you decide to change your name after you say I do, your new name will appear on your credit report along with the rest of your personal information, including your social security number which does not change when you get married. So if your social security number does not change, then your credit history does not change. You can be like the "Artist formerly known as Prince who changed his name to a symbol and then changed his name back to Prince" ...regardless your credit history still goes with you.

And your credit history is tied to your social security number which again does not change when you marry. Your social security number is the one constant from birth to death. Because your personal information isn't included in scoring calculations, changing your name after marriage does not impact your credit score.

You can not start fresh with a new credit score just because you got married. Married life won't erase any of your past financial choices. No you cannot erase the past, but you can start fresh with building a new tomorrow.

Marriage and Credit History - Does My Spouse' Credit Affect Mine?

After you get married, if you never decide to open up joint accounts together, then your credit history and credit scores remains as is.

But if you start to open up joint bank accounts or credit loans together, then your spouse's previous regressions and financial decisions can begin to affect your ability to get credit.

Let's say you decide to get a home mortgage loan. Your marriage and credit history will play a part. For example, if your credit is good (above 700) and your spouses' credit is not so good (550), then lenders will look at both credit histories if you apply for a loan together. You could be denied based on your partners' less than stellar credit.

One option may be to see if you can qualify for the loan with only one income, or wait to apply until your spouse's score improves. When you and your spouse have widely different credit scores, you have to decide how you want to handle credit-based applications. Will the spouse with better credit complete all the credit applications to get better rates? Will you apply jointly and accept higher interest rates so that the additional credit can help both your credit history and credit scores?

Or will you just opt out of the credit and debt market altogether? Get to the point where you make cash only decisions. In this way marriage and credit history has no impact on you. Ultimately that is my goal. Making strategic decisions is important to your financial health as you move forward. It's your choice. Here are some strategies to help you as you grow in your marriage.

Marriage and Credit History - Strategies

  1. Open up joint accounts when both spouses' credit history and credit scores are good.
  2. If one spouse has a spotty payment history or bad credit scores, then get loans and open up accounts in the name of the spouse with higher credit scores.
  3. Put the spouse with bad credit on a credit card account you have as an authorized user. An authorized user is similar to a joint account holder in that the credit card and its payment history appear on the user's credit report and impacts his score. Unlike a joint account holder , however, an authorized user is not legally liable for any debts incurred on the account.
  4. Create a 1 and 5 year family financial plan and budget.
  5. Develop a credit improvement plan for the spouse with less than pristine credit.

Get Credit Information and decide for yourself who to trust
to help legally improve your credit.

Sign up

Copyright © 2010 GCI, LLC All rights reserved