Does Adding Your Spouse to a Credit Card Affect Your Credit?

By Jackie Lam · March 29, 2023 · 9 minute read

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Does Adding Your Spouse to a Credit Card Affect Your Credit?

While credit scores and credit histories don’t merge when you get married, there are some scenarios when your spouse’s credit can impact yours, and vice versa. That said, you may wonder if your union spells good or bad news for your credit. Your three-digit credit score can be an important factor in borrowing money at the best possible rate, among other aspects of your financial life.

So, in a world where many people are trying to establish their credit scores, how might adding a spouse to a credit card build credit? Could it wind up bringing both of you down? Adding your spouse as a co-borrower can indeed have an impact depending on how responsibly you use a particular financial product. And beyond being added to a credit card, there are ways that you and your beloved might team up to build credit.

Read on to take a closer look at this situation, including:

•   If I add my spouse to my credit card, will it help their credit?

•   Does adding your spouse as a co-borrower affect my credit?

•   What are some ways to help my spouse build credit?

Can Adding Your Spouse as a Co-Borrower Affect Your Credit Score?

Co-borrowing for a mortgage, car loan, personal loan, or credit card with your significant other may impact your credit score. These are major financial moves, and here are the ripple effects they may trigger:

•   If you’re applying jointly from the get-go, and your spouse has the lower of the two credit scores, it could hinder the approval of your application or lead to lower loan amounts and less favorable rates and terms.

•   If, however, you have the lower credit score between the two of you, adding your spouse as a co-borrower can boost your odds of getting approved. Plus, it might enhance the amount, rates, and terms for that line of credit or loan for which you are applying.

•   Keep in mind that when you apply as co-borrowers or add your spouse as a co-borrower on a credit card or line of financing, you are legally bound to manage the account, and you’re both financially responsible. That means you’re both on the hook for making payments on the credit or loan, no matter who did the spending.

•   Payment history on the account will be reported to the credit bureaus on both your respective credit profiles. If payments are missed or late, it will negatively impact both your credit scores. And if you stay on top of payments, it can help you both build credit from scratch. This holds true whether you are both initially applying as co-borrowers or whether one spouse adds the other as a co-borrower.

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Recommended: What Happens to Credit Card Debt When You Die?

How Can Cosigning Affect Your Credit Score?

So does adding a spouse to a credit card affect your credit score? As you’ll see, just as there are pros and cons of joint bank accounts and other shared financial arrangements, so too can cosigning have upsides and downsides.

•   If you’re adding your spouse as an authorized user on your card, it won’t immediately impact your credit. Nor will the credit card issuer be required to run a credit check on your spouse.

•   However, when you cosign on a credit card or loan (that is, become a co-borrower), both parties are responsible for making payments. If one struggles financially, falls behind on payments, or the account goes into collection, both individuals are legally on the hook to make those payments.

•   If the above situation occurs, it will most likely hurt the credit of both parties. Conversely, if the account holders stay on top of their payments, it can help build credit.

10 Ways in Which You Can Help Your Spouse Build Credit

Adding your significant other as an authorized user to your credit card or signing up to be a loan or credit card cosigner aren’t the only ways your spouse can build credit. Here, 10 other tactics to consider.

1. Authorized User

As mentioned, adding an authorized user to your credit card account doesn’t impact your credit in the slightest. And if you practice responsible credit card use and habits, your spouse, as an authorized user on your card, could benefit.

Worth noting: It’s not just your spouse who can be added to your account. You could add a friend, family member, or employee as an authorized user to your account. Depending on the credit card issuer, you may be able to add multiple people.

For instance, the SoFi credit card allows you to add up to five authorized users. Plus, having others make purchases on your credit card can help you earn rewards.

2. Secured Credit Card

Your spouse might build credit via a secured credit card. These cards may look like a conventional card but they work differently and give the lender an additional layer of security. You put down a refundable deposit, which is usually the same amount as your credit limit. For instance, if you put down $250, that is your credit limit is $250. If you’re new to credit and building credit from scratch, these cards can be helpful if used responsibly because activity is reported to the credit bureaus.

3. Joint Credit Account

Joint credit cards are held in two people’s names, with two people being able to make charges and liable for the debts. If you sign up for a joint credit card, you can build both of your credit scores, provided you stay on top of your payments. (Of course, if you fall behind, both of your credit scores would likely dip.) However, these accounts can be a challenge to find; most lenders prefer extending credit to a single individual.

Recommended: Is a Joint Bank Account Right for You?

4. Applying for a Small Loan

If you’re looking for a financing option to help build credit, consider a loan with a small amount. That way, you gain the benefit of establishing credit, plus the debt repayment will be manageable and you can pay it off quicker. You might look at credit unions and online lenders, where personal loans are available for $250 and up.

5. Applying for a Credit Builder Loan

A credit builder loan is a short-term personal loan created with the primary intention of helping someone establish credit. Typically, you borrow a low sum generally up to $1,000, with repayment terms from six to 24 months. In this kind of loan, the funds aren’t disbursed to you when you are approved. Rather, they are typically placed in an interest-earning savings account or CD for you while you make payments. You might think of it as a structured savings plan. At the end of the term, the money plus any interest is yours, and your payment history is reported to the credit bureaus, hopefully building your score.

6. Applying for a Secured Personal Loan

A secured personal loan works in a similar fashion to an unsecured loan. You receive a single lump sum upfront and are responsible for monthly payments. But you’ll need to back up it with a valuable asset, such as a home or car. Should you struggle with keeping up with payments, the lender will be able to collect on your collateral to pay back the loan. Again, this is a way to build a credit score if you handle the repayment responsibly.

Secured personal loans usually have less stringent credit requirements, so are easier to get approved for when you’re new to credit.

7. Reviewing Credit Reports Together

It may not be as fun as heading out to try the new ramen place, but making a date to review one another’s credit reports together can be a valuable use of a couple of hours. It can help you spot errors to be corrected by contacting the credit bureau. It can also allow you to brainstorm together about ways to optimize your respective credit scores. You can order free reports from each of the three credit bureaus at .

For instance, maybe your partner has a history of late or missed payments. In that case, they can build their score by staying on-time with their payments. And perhaps you realize your credit card balance is growing rapidly and you need to investigate debt consolidation to remedy the situation.

8. Engaging in Money Management Discussions

Just as you might discuss your dreams for exotic travel and starting a family, you and your mate should hash out financial goals and how money management plays into helping you achieve your aspirations. You can tackle such issues as whether to have joint bank accounts vs separate bank accounts in marriage, prioritizing your financial plans, and more.

You might also both read financial blogs or listen to podcasts to boost your financial literacy.

9. Get Educated About Credit

About that reading and education: It can also be wise to drill down on the basic rules of credit and how to use credit responsibly. In turn, this learning might be able to help you establish credit with greater ease and more quickly.

10. Establishing and Sticking to Budgets

Your credit score can reflect how well you are handling your inflow and outflow of funds. As you contemplate your credit, take a look at how you can better allocate funds to pay down debt and pay bills on time.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider popular budgeting methods such as the 50-30-20 rule, the zero-sum budget, and the envelope system.

The Takeaway

Credit files are built individually, and getting married won’t combine your credit scores and profiles. However, if you want to help your spouse build credit or establish your own, there are smart moves you can make. Options can include credit builder loans, secured credit cards, and secured personal loans.

As you build good credit and move ahead with your financial life, picking the right credit card is an important decision. The SoFi Credit Card can be a terrific option, with 2% cash back rewards on every eligible purchase. Plus, you’ll enjoy free credit monitoring and our app that makes it easy to check your balance and pay bills.

The SoFi Credit Card: The smart, simple way to pay.


Will adding my spouse to my credit card build our credit?

Adding your significant other as an authorized user can help build their credit if you both use the account responsibly.

Does my spouse affect my credit score?

Your credit score is tracked and reported individually. So your spouse’s financial behaviors and credit history won’t impact yours. But if you apply for a line of credit or loan jointly, then your respective credit scores can impact getting approved for loan and what terms and rates you’ll get.

What happens if I have a good credit score, but my spouse doesn’t?

If you have a solid credit score and your spouse doesn’t, when you apply as co-borrowers on a line of credit or loan (such as a personal loan, car loan, or mortgage), the spouse with the lower credit score could gain access to more favorable perks.

On the flip side, if your spouse has a poor credit score, it could hurt the odds of you getting approved for financing or credit with the best terms and rates — or you might get denied outright.

Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages

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