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Say "I Do" to Good Credit

Marriage can often mean the combining of financial resources, as well as financial obligations. While married couples do retain their own credit histories and credit report files, joint accounts along with their histories will reside on both of your reports.In the months prior to your marriage, take a look at your and your fiancé’s debt obligations and discuss your feelings and opinions toward debt.

Take some time before the wedding to sit down and have a serious conversation about your feelings toward finances. Review each of your current debt obligations, the payments, the interest rates, and the remaining principal. Also request copies of your free annual credit reports see where you currently stand. If it makes financial sense, consider switching to joint accounts, and add each other’s names as responsible parties to credit. Keep in mind that if your Social Security number is listed on one of your spouse’s accounts, that credit history will likely show up in your credit report. So, ensure that you are both accountable for making the payments on time. If one of you has an account with some negative history associated with it, it’s probably best to keep those credit accounts separate.

Weddings can often be a time to overindulge in spending, for both the wedding and honeymoon. Communication at this point is essential to ensure that the happiest day of your life doesn’t turn into a long-term debt obligation. Budgeting and planning in advance can go a long way at this stage.

Once you are married, if you’ve changed your last name, send a letter to each of the three credit reporting agencies explaining the change. Believe it or not, something as simple and common as a last name change can cause you to be denied credit, if all of your history is associated with your prior name. 

Going forward, make sure that you continue to have credit cards and loans in your name and Social Security number. If all of your accounts are only in your spouse’s name, you will have little to no credit history. In some cases, being an authorized user on a credit card account may not be the same as being a joint account holder.

You can protect yourself by signing up for some credit in your own name, reviewing credit reports at least annually, and regularly discussing your financial situation with your spouse.