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Do Married Couples Share Credit Scores?

Credit scores are individual, and getting married doesn’t change that. But there’s still a link between marriage and credit score. Learn more inside.

December 14, 2021

Many people describe their wedding day as the “best day of their life.” 

That’s probably because marriage is an important milestone that marks a new beginning — the merging of two lives into one. 

And, although marriage is first and foremost a symbol of love and devotion, it’s also a legal agreement that comes with many technical changes — like your tax filing status, your last name and yes, your finances. 

But what happens to your credit when you get married? And how is credit score calculated for married couples? This article explores the relationship between marriage and credit, covering everything newlyweds and engaged couples need to know. 

Do married couples share a credit score?

Credit scores are individual and tied to a person’s individual Social Security Number (SSN), so married couples do not share a credit score.  In fact, credit reports don’t even list whether an individual is married or not. 

Each partner will have their own dedicated credit score, based on their personal credit history

The act of getting married does not directly affect credit in any way — but there may be some other indirect effects on your credit (more on this below).  

What about domestic partnerships and common-law marriages? 

Domestic partnerships are no different — each partner will still retain their personal credit score. 

Entering into a domestic partnership (or common law marriage) will not directly affect either partner’s credit score. 

However, like married couples, domestic partners often combine finances — and this may have an effect on credit scores and overall finances. 

Marriage and credit score

When it comes to marriage and credit score, the act of getting married or entering a domestic partnership will not affect your credit score in any way. However, combining finances with a partner may. Here’s how: 

Shared credit accounts will affect both partner’s scores

If you open any shared credit accounts with your new spouse, this could affect both your credit scores. For instance, you may co-sign on a mortgage together, buy a new car with a loan or open a joint credit card. 

Activity on shared accounts will affect both partner’s credit scores. For instance, if you accidentally miss a payment on a joint credit card, this could negatively impact both scores. 

And the actual act of co-signing or opening a joint account essentially “links” you to the other person in the eyes of the three main credit bureaus. This means that, if your partner has a good credit score, your score may improve once you co-sign on a loan (and vice versa). 

Co-signed loans may be limited by the lower credit score

Does marital status affect mortgage APR or the terms of a loan? The actual marital status does not — but if one partner has a substantially lower credit score than the other, this may alter the lender’s decision making. 

If you’re wondering how credit scores are calculated for married couples applying for a loan together, the answer differs from lender to lender. 

When you apply for a mortgage or personal loan, the lender will pull both partner’s credit reports. However, many lenders choose to look at the lower credit score between the two partners when setting the terms of the loan. 

This means that if there is a big mismatch between your credit score and your partner’s, your interest rates on future loans could be negatively affected.

Becoming an authorized user could improve your credit score

If you have a lower credit score than your partner, becoming an “authorized user” on their account could help you build your own credit. This essentially allows you to piggyback off your partner’s credit score, which may provide a small boost to your own score. 

The same is true in reverse — if your score is higher than your partner's, adding them as an authorized user could give them a credit score boost

Financed wedding costs could affect credit

If you pay for your wedding using credit cards or a loan, this could directly affect your credit score. This is due to the increase in credit usage that comes with adding on debt.

This will apply to whichever partner actually took on the debt, so even if you split expenses pre-marriage, the partner whose credit card you used will see the impact on their credit score. 

Considering the average wedding now costs over $20,000, it’s common for couples to take on debt to finance their special day. In fact, for many married couples, this may have a substantial effect on their credit scores after the fact.

What about name changes?

If one partner changes their last name, what happens to that partner’s credit report?

There is no direct impact on credit scores due to a name change. 

However, it is important to update the name on file with financial institutions, so the new name gets correctly reported to the credit bureaus. If you move to a new home, you’ll need to update your address as well.

It’s wise to check your credit report for errors to ensure your new legal name and address are properly reported. Credit reports can be delayed by up to a month or more, so remember to check it a month or two after you update your information with your bank(s). 

What happens to your credit if you get divorced?

Credit reports do not include whether an individual is single, married or separated. Thus, the actual act of getting divorced will not affect your credit score.

However, if you get divorced, you may still be responsible for any co-signed loans or co-owned accounts with your ex. The activity on those accounts will continue to influence your credit score.

It’s helpful to close as many shared accounts as possible prior to the divorce. For more information, you can check out this guide from Experian

Wrapping up

The relationship between marriage and credit score is simple: Actually getting married won’t affect your scores, but combining finances and co-signing on loans can. 

If both partners have solid financial habits and credit practices, merging finances won’t make much of a difference on either partner’s credit score. However, if there’s a mismatch between your credit scores and/or financial habits, you may notice a more significant impact.

To start your marriage off on strong financial footing, here are some important conversations to have before getting married

And, if you’re still paying off wedding-related credit card debt (or any credit card debt), you can check out Tally†. Tally is a personal finance app that helps qualifying Americans potentially pay off their credit card debt in a more efficient manner. 

†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. Based on your credit history, the APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% - 29.99% per year. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.