Newlyweds Joint Credit Account

When a couple gets married, there are some important decisions you’ll need to make about your finances.  After you have a discussion about your finances and spending, you’ll need to decide what to do with your existing outstanding loans and credit card accounts, as well as any new credit accounts that you open when you are married.

There are several options available, each with its own pros and cons. You may choose to deal with credit accounts differently—it’s really up to you and your spouse.

Joint credit account 

With a joint account, both spouses are listed on the credit account equally. While both of you are able to use the credit line, both of you are also liable for the charges. This is good if both of you want to make sure you continue to have history of paying bills on time, but can be bad if one of you is less financially responsible than the other.

Loan cosigner 

A cosigner is considered legally obligated to pay off the debt if the primary account holder does not pay it. Although the cosigner’s credit can be hurt if the account isn’t paid on time, the cosigner doesn’t have the legal authority to make changes to the account. Cosigning for a loan can have serious consequences for the cosigner, so this is a situation you should avoid unless you completely trust the primary account owner. For married couples, it’s probably best to have a joint account rather than have one spouse cosign on the other’s loan.

Authorized user 

An authorized user is listed on the account, can use any amount of credit up to the credit limit, and may have the account show up on his or her credit report, but is not liable for making any of the payments. While many family members often add their children or spouses with limited credit history to their accounts, it’s important to note that the primary holder is ultimately responsible for paying the account.

Once you decide how want to deal with your credit accounts, keep in mind that you can always use a different method for new accounts, for example if you purchase a home together. Always make sure you and your spouse communicate about your outstanding credit, regardless of whose name it’s in.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.