What Happens to Your Credit When You Get Married?
Learn how getting married could impact your or your spouse’s credit scores and reports
You’re getting married. It’s romantic! It’s exciting! It’s…sometimes overwhelming. With so much to plan and do, you might not have thought about how marriage affects your finances. For example, what happens to your credit? Does your spouse’s credit affect yours? And are you responsible for each other’s debt?
The short answer is that getting married may not affect your credit straight away. But how you both choose to manage your money after you’re married might. Read on to find out how.
How Does Marriage Affect Credit?
Marriage isn’t always a case of “what’s mine is yours.” Your credit history and scores are yours and yours alone. There’s no such thing as a marriage credit score.
So credit histories and scores don’t combine when you get married. And how your spouse uses their individual credit accounts can’t impact your individual credit accounts. But if you have a shared account or you’re an authorized user of your spouse’s account, you could affect each other’s scores.
Anytime you apply for credit together, you could trigger a hard inquiry on both your credit reports. That might temporarily lower your credit scores.
You’ll also both be responsible for the activity on your joint credit accounts. If you use your credit cards responsibly, for example, you could both improve your scores. But your scores could drop if either of you are late with payments on a joint credit card.
What If One Spouse Has Bad Credit?
Marrying someone with bad credit may not automatically hurt your credit score. But your spouse’s bad credit could affect you after you get married.
When you apply for credit together, lenders could look at both your and your spouse’s credit scores. Your spouse’s bad credit might stop you from getting the best interest rate. Or your application might even be denied.
Will Changing Your Name Affect Your Credit?
Changing your name after marriage won’t affect your credit. But you should inform your lenders of your new name. They’ll report it to the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion®, Experian® and Equifax®. It might take a month or even longer to show up, so don’t panic if you don’t see the change straight away.
Do You Share Debt When You’re Married?
Any activity on a joint credit account will show up in both your and your spouse’s credit histories. And both of you are financially responsible for paying the debt.
Whether you’re responsible for any debt your spouse took on before you were married will depend on the property laws in your state.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, in most states you’re unlikely to be liable for any individual debt your spouse takes on. But you should check your state’s laws or consult an attorney or qualified professional if you have any questions.
Monitor Your Credit for Free With CreditWise From Capital One
There’s no doubt that marriage is life-changing. But one thing it doesn’t change is how important it is to monitor your credit. It will help each of you know where you stand. And you can take steps to improve your credit scores if you need to.
CreditWise from Capital One can help with that. You can access your TransUnion credit report and VantageScore® 3.0 credit score every week and monitor your credit with CreditWise. It’s free for everyone, not just Capital One customers. And using it won’t hurt your score.
You can also get free copies of your TransUnion, Experian and Equifax credit reports. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to learn how.
Knowing what’s in your credit reports and understanding how you can affect each other’s credit can contribute to a solid financial foundation for your marriage. And that could help you and your loved one have the happily-ever-after you deserve.
Government and private relief efforts vary by location and may have changed since this article was published. Consult a financial adviser or the relevant government agencies and private lenders for the most current information.
We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.
Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many credit scoring models. It may not be the same model your lender uses, but it can be one accurate measure of your credit health. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your credit file at (or you do not have a file at) one or more consumer reporting agencies.