If you are planning to get married, it is crucial to know your spouse’s debt can affect your credit. Marriage has a big impact on credit scores, both positively and negatively.
If you’re planning to get married soon, here’s what you need to know about how marriage affects your credit and what steps to take if your future spouse has poor credit.
If your partner has a bad credit score, you need to understand the causes and develop a strategy to improve the credit. It is crucial that you don’t sign a joint agreement when your partner has bad credit because their bad credit can affect your future plans.
How Does Marriage Affect Your Credit Score?
Marriage doesn’t directly affect your credit score, but it can impact how lenders view your ability to repay loans due to shared finances and joint accounts. If you and your spouse apply for a joint account, such as a mortgage or car loan, the lender will likely check both of your credit files. A good credit score helps you qualify for better rates or terms, while a poor score may increase the interest rate on your loan.
If you’re married and your spouse has debt, it will not affect your credit score. The only exception is if you co-signed for the account or loan with them (for example, if you co-signed for your spouse’s car loan). In that case, the lender reports both names on their credit report and all payments made by both parties.
Likewise, if you’re dating someone but not married, then any financial obligations they have will not affect your credit score. However, if you sign a joint lease or open a joint bank account together while dating and then break up, any late payments made on those accounts could hurt your individual credit scores.
Managing Joint Accounts
It’s common for a married couple to have a joint bank account. A joint account allows you and your spouse to pool your income and spending on one card. If you use the card responsibly and pay it off each month, having a joint card helps increase the average age of your accounts and lower the average number of accounts on which you have balances.
Joint accounts make sense in many situations, but they can also cause problems if you don’t understand how they affect your credit scores. Here are some things you should know about how joint accounts affect your credit scores.
A joint account appears on both spouses’ credit reports. Before opening a joint account, make sure that both of you are comfortable with the idea of sharing such an important financial relationship.
FICO and VantageScore rely on your payment history and credit utilization to calculate your credit scores. If you manage a joint account responsibly, both of your scores will go up, but if you mismanage your account, both your credit scores will drop.
How can you effectively manage joint accounts to improve your credit score?
- Pay all bills on time
- Keep balances low on joint accounts
- Don’t close joint accounts unless absolutely necessary
- Monitor each other’s activity
Helping a Spouse With Bad Credit scores
- Review credit reports together. The first step is to review each other’s credit reports with the three major bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). This allows both parties to understand what needs to be addressed together and what can be handled separately. Your spouse may not even realize they have a problem until they see it in black and white on the report.
- Plan how to repair the damage. Planning could mean helping them pay off debts that may have accumulated before you got married.
- You could check how long it has been since the account was reported as delinquent and work out a payment plan with a creditor. You could also enlist the services of a credit repair company that can help negotiate with lenders on your behalf for better deals.
- Review progress together. Once you’ve compared reports, it’s time for a little tough love. It’s time for both of you to devise a plan to repair the damage done by bad debt in the past. A good place to start is by looking at their debt-to-income ratio (DTI).
Our Bottom Line on Improving Credit Scores
Your credit is not impacted if your spouse has bad credit. However, if you take a loan on a joint account, your credit will either be impacted positively or negatively. If your partner has bad credit, take steps to help them improve their credit scores to get back on track. Good credit helps both of you to get low-interest rates that will help you make financial progress.
A more positive outlook toward a more financially secure future starts today. Give the Ascent Network a call at 1-877-871-2400. Ascent Network helps consumers all over the United States. It is available locally in Huntington Beach, Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, and Thousand Palms, CA.