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Your credit score is not directly affected when you get married. However, spouses can still impact each other’s credit through other financial decisions.
If you’re engaged, planning a wedding or simply thinking about getting married, you may wonder: does getting married affect your credit score?
In short, getting married does not have a direct impact on your credit, but marriage and credit scores are still linked. There are marriage-related changes that can affect your credit score, including name-change complications and adding authorized users to an account.
Head into this exciting new time of life with the tools to stay financially healthy together. Our guide breaks down common marriage-related changes that may impact your credit score and how to navigate tying the knot while keeping your credit score in check.
What happens to your credit when you get married?
When you get married, nothing automatically happens to your credit score, but three main things will become true for your credit.
You and your spouse retain your credit
Even after the marriage certificate is signed, both spouses retain their own credit scores. Neither score will change automatically, nor will a spouse’s good or bad credit have an immediate effect on the other’s score.
You and your spouse can share credit
If you and your spouse decide to open a joint line of credit or cosign a mortgage together, you will share credit. Any activity—good or bad—made on this shared credit account will affect the credit scores of both spouses.
You and your spouse’s credit may be limited
A lower credit score could negatively impact a couple’s approvals for mortgages, loans and shared interest rates. Lenders performing credit inquiries are more likely to draw up terms and agreements based on a couple’s lowest credit score, which could also limit available credit on shared credit accounts.
Marriage and credit scores: 5 common myths
When you get married, nothing automatically happens to your credit. While there are many misconceptions about marriage and finances, signing the wedding license doesn’t automatically link financial histories.
The myths surrounding marriage and credit scores can cause unnecessary anxiety heading into a wedding day. Disproving these myths can help you understand the truth behind marriage and credit so you can create a tangible financial plan together.
Myth 1: Credit reports merge when you get married
You don’t lose your financial identity when you get married, nor does it automatically merge with your spouse’s. Credit reports are identified by your Social Security number, not your last name or marital relationship. Unless you have joint lines of credit, your credit report will only reflect your own credit activity.
Myth 2: Marriage lowers your credit score
The act of marriage will not lower your credit score, but merging your spending habits with your spouse can. If one person is more conservative with saving while the other uses a credit card daily, it can take time to find financial equilibrium. While you may see changes to your credit score after being married, they will not be caused simply by the act of getting married.
Myth 3: Your credit history is erased when you change your last name
Changing your last name also does not affect your financial identity. Your new name will become an additional alias on your report and your credit report will remain the same.
When creditors report your new name at the end of the next cycle, the three major credit bureaus will automatically receive and record the new information on your report. To be safe, request a free credit report a month after the switch to ensure all details reached each reporting agency.
Myth 4: Your spouse’s poor credit will hurt your credit score
Your spouse’s poor credit will not hurt your score automatically. However, your scores may change when you begin applying for joint accounts or loans together. Once approved for a joint account, you are both responsible for the health of the line of credit, and maxing out your credit limit or missing payments will affect both scores.
Myth 5: You are automatically added as a joint user on your spouse’s account
When you get married, you do not automatically become a joint user on your spouse’s account and your credit and bank accounts are not automatically merged. To authorize your spouse on your account or open a new line of credit together, you must mutually discuss it with your financial institution. Couples may choose to merge accounts before marriage or remain financially independent after marriage. Marriage by itself does not automatically give both parties access to each other’s accounts.
Does your spouse’s credit affect yours?
After tying the knot, you and your spouse may start looking ahead to your next big financial milestone. When this happens, you may wonder how your spouse’s credit can affect your options.
Both spouses’ credit scores can affect major credit evaluations, including when you:
- Merge and create joint accounts
- Attempt to buy a home or make another large purchase
- Apply for interest rates and other qualifying offers
If you and your spouse decide to get a line of credit together, also referred to as a joint account, the lender pulls both of your credit reports to make the lending decision.
Mismatched scores could affect mortgage interest rates, credit limits and approval chances. Since finances and relationships are intertwined, it’s important to remember how your spouse’s credit score could affect financial decisions.
When you get married, do you share debt?
When you get married, you only share debt if you open a joint account, cosign a loan or become an authorized user on their account. Otherwise, pre-marriage debt is the responsibility of the one who accumulated it.
Debt accumulated during your marriage are treated differently depending on where you live. States following community property laws consider debt acquired during the marriage to belong equally to spouses. In common law states, debts are generally the sole responsibility of the recipient spouse.
If you need further clarification on the property laws of your state before, during or after marriage, we highly recommend you consult an attorney.
Improving your credit with your spouse
Both spouses’ credit scores can benefit when a couple combines their finances. For some, linking financial accounts also helps couples define, manage and improve budgets, expenses and credit scores. These financial changes don’t need to happen all at once, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer for spouses managing their finances.
Adding your spouse as an authorized user to an account can sometimes help improve the lower of your two scores. Spouses may consider this method if one person doesn’t have a long credit history or has a high credit utilization ratio.
Joint lines of credit
Even if couples choose to keep separate accounts, opening a joint line of credit for common purchases and bills can help raise credit scores. Additionally, if your spouse has low credit, opening a joint line of credit to improve their credit score can help you qualify for a better interest rate together.
How marriage affects your credit report
So, does getting married affect your credit score? Even though tying the knot doesn’t directly affect your credit, the financial decisions you make as a couple can.
If you change your name or combine finances, keep an eye on your credit reports for any inconsistencies or errors. Credit report mistakes like credit items that don’t belong to you, fraudulent accounts due to identity theft, or incorrect personal information can negatively affect your credit score and should be dealt with as soon as possible.
Lexington Law can help you work to address inaccurate and unfair negative items on your report. Get a free personalized credit report assessment to see how we can help.
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