Home > 2016 > Credit Cards

How Do My Spouse & I Apply for a Credit Card Together?

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 0 Comments

Couples can gain several advantages when they decide to manage their finances together. First, they can save time by managing fewer accounts. In addition, each person can leverage their financial strengths for the benefit of the household by saving, budgeting and paying bills. Finally, couples can pool together their income, investments and other resources without having to account for who was originally responsible.

When couples manage their finances, they may choose to apply for a credit card together. However, there are two ways that two people can be on a credit card account.

Opening a Credit Card as Joint Account Holders

One way that two people can apply for the same credit card is as joint account holders. With this type of account, both spouses essentially act as the primary cardholder. Both can make charges, make changes to the account, and redeem rewards. But in addition, both cardholders are individually responsible for the repayment of all debts, regardless of who made the charge. Even if one spouse makes all of the charges but doesn’t pay any of the bills, the other spouse is still responsible for repayment. Furthermore, payment history of the account will be reflected on the credit reports of both spouses.

With a standard checking or savings account, it can be quite easy to simply add a joint account holder. But with a credit card account, it’s not that simple. Only a few banks still offer this option, and in most cases, the account must be originally opened as a joint account — you can’t add a spouse to an existing account.

In 2013, Chase announced it would cease offering joint credit card accounts, and other major banks, such as HSBC and Capital One, have followed. Currently, Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Discover still allow customers to open joint credit card accounts.

Adding a Spouse as an Authorized User

A much easier way for a couple to share a credit card account is for the primary account holder to add a spouse as an authorized cardholder. Authorized cardholders receive their own credit card and can make charges to the primary cardholder’s account. However, the primary cardholder is only responsible for repayment and can remove authorized cardholders from the account at any time. In addition, authorized cardholders are not able to perform many account management tasks, such as reporting a card lost or stolen or redeeming rewards — and not all issuers report authorized users to the three major credit reporting agencies.

Pros & Cons to Both Arrangements 

The advantage of a joint account is that both spouses are equal in the eyes of the card issuer. Each has all of the authority and responsibility that they would have if they were the sole account holder. It’s also possible to open a joint account if one spouse has poor credit and the other has much better credit.

However, if the couple separates or divorces, both spouses are still responsible for repaying the debt, and any negative payment information will be reported on the credit histories of both spouses. And if one spouse should die, the survivor will generally still be responsible for repaying the debt.

When you add a spouse as an authorized cardholder, it also has several advantages and drawbacks. On the plus side, adding an authorized cardholder is simple, and can be done with just a quick telephone call. In addition, other cardholders are not financially responsible for debts, which could be an advantage to the authorized cardholder, or a disadvantage to the primary accountholder, depending on how you look at it. For the authorized user, it can be frustrating to be unable to perform some basic tasks on the account, such as redeeming rewards.

By understanding the different ways that couples can open a credit card account together, you can choose the type of account that works best for your needs. If you’re considering whether to apply for a rewards credit card, be sure your credit is in solid shape beforehand. You can see where your finances stand by viewing a free snapshot of your credit report, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

Image: Ridofranz

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team