Five Things to Consider Before You Get a Joint Credit CardMarch 17, 2011 - 8:46 am
There comes a time in many couples’ relationships where they consider merging their finances. That may mean getting a joint credit card. Before you apply for a credit card together, there are some things you should agree on and clear up.
Why do you want a joint credit card?
There was a time when a woman couldn’t get a card by herself. She had to have a husband cosigner. But, that’s no longer the case. Now, every creditworthy adult with the means to pay a card balance can get a card. Before you get a credit card together, talk about the reasons you want to merge your credit. Maybe you want to help one partner build a better credit score. Or perhaps budgeting and paying household expenses will be easier.
Do you can your spouse agree on how the credit card will be used?
When you share a credit card, it’s important to set some guidelines on how to use the credit card. Partners with different spending habits need to reach a compromise on how much will be charged on the credit card, how much will be paid each month, who will be responsible for making the payment, and a maximum purchase amount that can be made without consulting the other person. Clear up these semantics before the credit card ever comes in the mail.
Are you prepared to pay for your partner’s charges?
Worst-case scenario, your partner racks up a huge credit card bill and bails. Are you ready to pay the entire credit card debt on your own? When you get joint credit card, both parties are responsible for making the credit card payments no matter who actually made the purchases. So, if your partner can’t or won’t pay for their part of the purchases, then you have to. If your partner files bankruptcy, you’re on the hook for the whole balance and the creditor could sue you.
Does your partner have a good track record for paying bills?
A joint credit card will be reported on both cardholders’ credit reports. That means late payments will affect both persons’ credit history, credit score, and ability to get credit in the future. If you know your partner isn’t good with paying bills on time, you should make it your responsibility to make the credit card payments on each month. Or, you could set up an automatic payment from a joint bank account. Just make sure the bank account has enough funds to cover the payment when the payment date comes.
Who will review the credit card statement?
Even if you have your credit card set up on automatic payments, you should still review your credit card statement each month to make sure there’s no credit card fraud. You also want to check for credit card billing errors and confirm that you’ve kept your spending in check for the month. Ideally, you’ll review the credit card statement together each month, but one or both of you may want to keep an eye on transactions throughout the month using your online transaction history.