Marriage and Money

Blended Family Finances: Credit Card Tips for Couples

As you prepare to blend family finances, the subject of credit cards can become a touchy one. But if you follow some worthwhile suggestions on how to handle this, the process may be more pleasant.

Valuable Tips for Couples Combining Finances

Nothing takes your relationship to the next level like blending your finances. However, managing your credit cards as a couple is a little different than deciding whether to combine your bank accounts or keep them separate. Credit cards are an altogether different financial beast that could provide a unique challenge to your relationship, especially if you and your partner have vastly different money management styles. Here are a few tips for keeping things harmonious in the credit card department as a married couple.

Be transparent

Don't let credit card debt (or any type of debt) become the elephant in the room. If you feel you already have too much credit card debt, or you have a bad credit history that prevents you from even getting a credit card, it's important to disclose such information to your partner before they choose to involve you in their own credit card affairs.

Find out who has the better credit score.

Your credit score will be an extremely important factor in most of your life's major financial decisions, so it's important to know whose is better, and whose might need a little work. If you have notably better credit than your spouse or partner, your good credit can be used to your partner's benefit. There is some financial risk involved. If you do decide to cosign on a credit card for your partner or spouse, you should understand that you will be on the hook to pay off their debt if they default.

Decide if you should address credit card debt together or separately.

Some people appreciate a little financial autonomy, and keeping your credit lines separate does provide that, to an extent. If you'd prefer to keep a little mystery in the relationship, you can always continue dealing with your credit cards as if you were single. If you'd prefer to consolidate your credit card dealings, however, you might consider opening a joint credit card account. Joint credit cards will allow you to more easily address credit card spending and payments as a team, but be aware that a joint credit card will have equal weight on both of your credit scores, and you'll both be responsible for paying off any incurred debt.

Decide on credit limits that fit your budget.

Regardless of whether you'd like to manage your credit debts separately or as a couple, you should establish credit limits that you're both comfortable with. Take a look at your household budget and determine how much money you can comfortably put toward credit card debt each month.

Combining your credit doesn't necessarily mean combining your credit history.

You can add your partner or spouse as an “authorized user” on your account, and it may not have any effect on their credit score. Technically, an authorized user is not liable for repaying your credit card debt, only the primary account holder will be responsible for paying off the debt. Even so, credit card debt can get a little messy in the event of a divorce. You could be assigned partial or full responsibility for any credit card debts you incur as a couple if a court judge orders it so.

If you have other questions about blended family finances, or you'd like to find out what financial questions you should ask before marriage, or how much life insurance you might need, be sure to check out our Protective Learning Center.

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