Say Yes to Marriage, but Never to Joint Checking


Congratulations! It's your big day! You've been planning for months and now you're walking down the aisle. You look amazing. He looks handsome. Everyone is there to celebrate. It's everything you've dreamed about.

Among all of the invitations and preparations and parties and well-wishes, there is a lot to deal with when it comes to your wedding. So the last thing on your mind is probably your credit rating!

(And truth be told, it's possible that your credit card might have taken a hit or two for that gorgeous bouquet or a down payment on your bridal gown).

Your wedding might be the most important thing on your mind right now, but here's what you need to know about how your wedding day affects your credit. After you say "I do" and slip the ring onto each other's fingers, you are accepting that person for better or for worse... INCLUDING their credit score.

Here's what you need to know about your spouse and their credit.

Credit scores are individual. Therefore, whatever credit score you brought into the marriage remains with you -- to decline or improve (hopefully improve!) all by yourself. There are no "joint" credit scores and your husband's bad or great credit score won't become yours just because you now share the same address and last name.

Your credit scores will continue to be your own individual scores throughout marriage. Your individual credit scores will be used to determine whether you qualify for loans. If only one of you applies for a loan, only that person's credit score will be used to get the loan. The other person's credit score won't be accessed or impacted.

If you both sign for a loan, both of your credit reports will be pulled. If the loan becomes overdue, both of your credit scores will be impacted as that account is joint. Therefore, it makes sense for only one person to apply for a loan when necessary. (Sometimes it's not possible -- there might be situations where you both have to apply -- but for the most part, try to have only one person apply).

Whenever possible, keep individual accounts (bank accounts, credit cards, and even utility bills) to shelter each other's credit score if something should happen. By doing this, you can spread the risk a little bit: If you default on a few accounts, both credit scores are only impacted slightly instead of both credit reports taking the full brunt of all of the defaults.

On your special day, the last thing you want to think about is your credit. But if you keep these tips in mind while you plan your life together, you'll enjoy far better credit scores and you'll protect yourselves in case something unexpected happens.