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Love and Marriage: How Tying the Knot Affects Your Credit

by Magical Credit

When you tie the knot with your significant other, you're making an unspoken pact to share virtually everything together. Successes, hardships, singular strands of spaghetti under the moonlight, and everything in between.

One area that's always a touchy topic of discussion for newlyweds is finances. It's a big commitment to join your financial forces with your spouse's.

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You may have similar interests as one another, but that doesn't mean your finances or credit are the same too. There can be chasms of discrepancies between your respective credit ratings and credit scores, which may be now affected by one another.

Do you know how your credit score will be affected by marriage? Will your credit rating soar or plummet based on your spouse, or will they remain independent? We'll answer the most common concerns about marriage and credit scores, marrying someone with bad credit, and if a surname change will wipe the slate clean.

Will Our Credit Reports Merge Together?

We think this is the most commonly asked question about marriage and credit scores. Many consumers logically assume their credit score will blend together with their partner's to create an all-encompassing credit rating.

This is a marriage myth. Credit reports are based off an individual's Social Insurance Number. You may be sharing a bathroom now, but your SIN will always remain unique to each individual. Since your SIN's won't merge into a giant security number, your credit histories will remain isolated too.

My Spouse's Poor Credit Rating Will Affect My Own.

Another popular query when marrying someone with bad credit, a poor credit rating from one partner both impacts - and doesn't impact - the other’s rating.

Sharp dichotomy, right? Here's how it works:

In terms of your credit rating as a single entity, you've got nothing to sweat: one person's credit won't drag down the other's. Similar to your credit reports staying separate, so too will your distinct credit ratings.

When you're buying something together, however, that's when your partner's low credit score and rating will have a negative impact. If you're applying for a mortgage or credit card together, a significantly lower credit score can influence rates. Lenders will do a credit check of both financial histories. Your sparkling credit rating might afford you the best mortgage rates, but because of your spouse, you may need to settle for a loan with a higher interest rate. Sometimes both parties will have a lousy credit rating; they won't get added together unfortunately, and loan will likely be denied.

The upside of applying together - for one of you, anyway - and accepting higher interest rates is it'll build up the other partner's credit score. If you're solely interested in the best rates however, the spouse with the higher credit score can make all the applications.

What is 'Joint Credit'?

There's a strong likelihood that you and your spouse will open a few joint accounts someday down the road. This will create 'joint credit', a shared credit rating generated through your joint accounts. This has nothing to do with the marriage pact; your credit score is being influenced solely through the joint accounts you're opening together.

This is the type of credit that people assume their personal credit scores will manifest to post-marriage. What one person does to the credit rating will be felt by the other. So if your spouse misses a credit card payment date, that's a mark against your credit score, too. Conversely, if they make timely payments consistently, you'll enjoy an improved rating without making a payment of your own.

Would a Name Change Give Us a Fresh Start?

If you decide to change your name when you get married, you'll need to make sure your creditors are aware of the adjustment. You'll start to see some updates on your credit reports afterwards including your new identity.

Your new name will be listed as an alias alongside your original name…but unfortunately, you won't get to start your credit rating from scratch. The only difference you may find when you do your standard credit check is inaccuracies in your report from the fresh name swap. Make sure you're checking your credit report frequently during the transition so your rating doesn't suffer!

Now that you're well-versed in marriage and credit scores, you and your spouse can make the best financial decisions together. Marrying someone with bad credit isn't a big deal, as the other person can apply for loans or credit on their own, or help build their spouses lower rating.

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