Tying the Knot on Credit ScoresJuly 18, 2018
Credit scores show institutions that may lend to you, if you’re a responsible borrower. It takes time to build credit and once you have, it’s important to keep it. If you aren’t sure how to build credit, check out our building credit blog here. When dating or in any type of romantic relationship, there are certain things about each other we learn pretty quickly. What our partner may like to eat, their favorite type of music, who their friends are, what’s their best angle for a selfie. We’re willing to bet that learning your partner’s credit score isn’t usually at the top of that list.
As your relationship progresses and you look to the future with your partner, your credit scores must be discussed. It’s important to understand where you both stand with your credit and how, or if you both can improve your scores. The importance of good credit cannot be underestimated. Credit is key to determining your ability to borrow money or to take out a loan, so having good credit, both you and your partner, will leave you both with better options. You both will have the ability to select a loan such as a mortgage for a home or a credit line to pay for your wedding that may even benefit you both in return! So how can you work with your significant other to raise their credit score and secure your financial futures?
Education & Open Communication is EVERYTHING
If you have great credit, you must be doing something right! Take the opportunity and show your partner what they can be done regularly to improve their credit score. It’s important to keep in mind you shouldn’t shame your partner for their finances in the past. Remember, it’s likely that your partner did not even realize how important a credit score was!
Your partner needs to feel like they can openly address financial questions and you can both have an open and honest conversation. Try to be encouraging and share your knowledge with them. Educate them on how reviewing a credit report annually to make sure there are no mistakes is important. Sit down together and walk through the first one together.
Be sure to find the problems that caused the poor credit in the first place. Was it missed payments, maxing out of credit cards, or just a lack of any credit history? Together you both can work to find a solution to this problem. There are tons of resources on the web where people can go to learn more and become more financially literate.
If you have good credit and you trust your partner, we mean really trust your significant other, then add them as an authorized user on your credit card. If this is something you’ve really thought about, be sure to use protection. By “protection” we mean, you’re still the primary cardholder and all responsibility of the card is all still yours.
One small slip-up can leave you with an unfortunate looking future … well at least as far as your credit score is concerned. If your partner decides to cheat on you financially and use the card to make purchases that they can’t afford and you don’t have the funds to pay for them either – it can negatively affect your credit score.
Now back to the positive of adding your partner onto your credit card. As the primary cardholder, your credit will not be affected if you add an authorized user. Your partner’s credit report will show the account history. Therefore, if you haven’t missed a payment on the card and haven’t maxed out the available credit, your significant other will get to reap those benefits. This is especially beneficial for partners who lack credit history.
Work for it
Another way in which your SO can build or repair their credit would be to open up a secured credit card. As NerdWallet explains, it is a secured credit card based on a cash deposit that you make when you open the account. They also explain that people who choose this option generally see their credit score improve in about a year if done responsibly. The deposit is usually the credit limit to which you are permitted. For example, if you put down a deposit of $500.00, you would have a credit limit of $500.
Now, don’t think because you put a deposit down you won’t accrue interest. Every other aspect of a secured credit card works the same as an unsecured credit card meaning if there’s a balance you’ll be paying interest. Secured credit cards are also accepted wherever unsecured cards are accepted.
Here are some additional tips to using a secured credit card responsibly as per Nerdwallet:
- Make only 1 or 2 purchases per month
- Only use for small purchases
- Pay the full balance every month – to not collect interest
- Pay the balance before it’s due.
If you keep the account open and pay your bills on time, you’ll eventually get back your deposit. With a good payment record on the account, most secure card providers will offer the account holder an unsecured card. If you don’t make your payments, then the cardholder will take the deposit, hence why it is a secured card because it is secure for the lender.
As every couple is unique so too are their credit histories. Whether it’s you or your significant other looking to repair or build credit. We just reviewed three proven methods. It’s important to keep in mind that not all credit is approved. You’ll still need to qualify for most of these options except for the authorized user on a credit card. Remember, this is your financial security as a couple. Your financial security will lay the foundation for the decisions you choose to make regarding finances. Keep working together to reach your goals and we are sure you’ll be so glad that you did!