The time leading up to your wedding is supposed to be one of the happiest of your life. But credit concerns can dim your enjoyment of this special time, so it’s important to learn what’s true – and what’s myth – about how marriage affects credit.
Here are some common myths about credit and marriage, and the truth behind them:
Myth: Once we’re married, my spouse and I will share a credit score.
Truth: You’ll each still have your own credit score, not one score shared between you. Your individual credit histories prior to marriage will be the primary determinants of your individual scores, at least in the beginning. Even if you’ve been married 30 years, you’ll still have your own credit scores.
Myth: If my spouse defaults on a credit obligation, it will show up on my credit report.
Truth: It could, if the default is on a shared obligation, such as a mortgage for a house titled in both your names, a joint credit card account or a utility bill issued in both names. If, however, the defaulted account is in one spouse’s name alone – such as a credit card he or she had before the marriage – that account will not show up on the other partner’s credit report.
Myth: Our combined incomes will increase our credit scores.
Truth: Credit bureaus do not consider income when calculating your credit score. Your credit score could be higher than someone who earns twice what you do. Adding your spouse’s income to your monthly cash flow may make it easier to pay your bills reliably, and that could help your credit score, but the income itself will not be reflected on your credit report.
Myth: I’m marrying the person, not his (or her) credit.
Truth: While you will continue to have your own credit reports and credit scores after marriage, it’s virtually impossible to keep your credit entirely separate – unless you also keep your finances completely separate. In fact, certain community states such as, CA or TX, will automatically notate the major purchases of a house or otherwise in both spouse’s names. Thus, your spouse’s credit history will affect your combined ability to secure joint credit – such as a mortgage.
Marriage should be a true merging of two people’s lives and credit is an important part of both your lives. Talking about your credit pasts and how you will use credit in the future is essential to achieving financial bliss in your new life together.