Should You Share Your Credit Score With Your Partner?


If money and relationships are an uncomfortable mix, then credit and romance are downright strange bedfellows.

"You may say you know everything about a person, but you probably don't know anything about his credit record," says Adam Levin, founder of

Now, a frequently aired TV commercial featuring a forlorn young husband forced to live with his in-laws because he was clueless about his bride's abysmal credit is aiming to spur young lovers to share credit scores.

Of course, the commercial's sponsor, the Web site, is hoping to rev up its credit information sales, too. Romantic partners are a big, untapped market.

It's important that consumers know that the only Web site where they can obtain a free credit report is, a site set up by the federal government. One credit report per year from each of the reporting agencies is available for free to consumers.

"We have found that people often aren't interested in reviewing their credit report until there is a life event which makes them aware of how important it is," says Heather McLaughlin, spokeswoman for Experian Americas, the parent of "The commercial about the couple living in the basement addresses one of those life events where knowing each other's credit prior to getting into a financial obligation together would have been helpful," she says.

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But according to relationship experts, it will take much more than a commercial to get someone to present his partner with a report detailing his sinking debt.

Don't mention it
In a recent study of 50,000 couples who went through its marriage preparation course, Life Innovations finds "a large percentage of partners don't talk about money or credit issues in any detail at all," says Peter Larson, clinical psychologist and vice president of the Minneapolis firm.

They may prefer to remain mum about finances and credit, but these issues are major irritants to the 50,000 couples, adds Larson.

"Seventy-two percent of the 100,000 individual respondents said they wished their partner would be more careful about spending," says Larson. "And 56 percent say major debts are a problem."

Not my problem?
As long as you don't have an account held jointly in both names, you're not responsible for a romantic partner's debts. And debts that someone brings into a marriage under her own name are not legally the responsibility of the spouse, notes Alton Abramowitz, vice president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

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