Table of Contents

    Will Marriage Affect Your Credit Report?

    It is quite common for people to think about how their credit reports and scores could be affected once they decide to get married.

    Given marriage combines much of a couple’s lives and their finances, there is an obvious question about credit.

    However, getting married does not affect your credit directly.

    You and your spouse will continue to maintain separate files based on your financial activities.

    You would not be automatically responsible for each other’s payment histories or debts.

    Credit accounts will only appear on both reports when you borrow money together.

    Also, if you live in a community property state and one among you borrows money during the marriage, both of you will be responsible for repaying it.

    When Marriage Does Make An Impact

    It is only a misconception that getting married will directly affect your report and score.

    However, below we discover some situations in which credit scores and reports can be jointly affected.

    Being A Joint Account Holder

    Your report will only list the accounts you opened in your name and the ones you cosigned.

    The individual accounts of your spouse will not be added, and neither of your reports will be merged. 

    When both of you apply for money together, your credit score will start to react based on the account activity.

    Let us consider that both of you apply for a mortgage or auto loan. Any missed payments will start affecting both your scores.

    At the application stage, lenders will consider both your scores before they approve your loan.

    Your application likely will not go through if one or both of you have a bad credit history.

    Even if the application is approved, you will have to repay the debt at a higher rate. 

    Applying For Credit Together

    If you want to apply for a loan, with one of the two having a bad score, your chances of qualifying are low.

    According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), lenders consider the lowest score between the two when you apply as co-borrowers. 

    This fact significantly hurts qualification chances.

    However, when you apply as an individual borrower, you might not qualify for a larger amount because the lender would consider only your income. 

    There could even be problems when you want to rent an apartment together.

    Landlords often check the reports of both partners as part of the application process for a rental house.

    When both of you have a significantly different score, you must decide how you want to go about your joint applications.

    It would be sensible to allow the spouse with a better score to apply individually.

    Adding A Spouse As An Authorized User

    Marriage does not simply make you an authorized user or co-signer on the accounts of your spouse.

    You need to make a specific request to creditors when you want to be added to your spouse’s credit cards. 

    Becoming an authorized user may not automatically mean that the account gets factored into your score.

    It is good to ask the creditor if they report authorized users to the reporting agencies. 

    When your spouse’s credit history is poor, or even non-existent, adding them to your credit card can help them build credit.

    However, when a spouse is added to your account, you automatically become responsible for any late payments or additional debt.

    Another factor to take into consideration is the effect late payments will have on your credit score and future chances of securing good interest rates on your credit cards.

    Your score will be affected if you are added as an authorized user to your spouse’s account that has a record of late payments in their credit history.

    Applying For A Loan With A Spouse That Has Bad Credit

    Even if your spouse has a bad score and history, do not worry.

    There are a number of solutions that might help you get a loan, even with bad credit.

    Each lender has different qualification criteria, so it is important to do thorough research.

    Some put a lot of weight on credit scores, while others consider the debt-to-income (DTI) ratio as important.

    If one of you has a low DTI ratio, you can overcome your credit problems.

    Another solution is to make a bigger down payment if you are taking out a mortgage or auto loan.

    It will not only reduce the principal amount but will also lower the payment towards interest. Many lenders are lenient towards first-time homebuyers and offer generous programs.

    Even with a lower credit score, you can qualify for an FHA loan with a down payment as low as 3.5%.

    Bottom Line

    Marriage may not have a direct impact on your credit.

    However, some reasons listed above have the potential to affect it.

    This makes it very important for married couples to remain transparent about each other’s financial history and current standing.

    If there are issues, you must work collaboratively to improve the bad score of your partner over time.