Ask Finder: How does having a joint account affect my individual credit?
What details are listed on your credit file when you apply for a joint credit card or other joint account?
My partner and I want to get a credit card together. At the moment he has an excellent credit score and I have a good score, so I'm just wondering how a joint account might affect our individual ratings. And will the account information be added to one or both of our credit files?
When you get a joint credit card or loan account, the details are listed on each person's individual credit file. This information is very similar to what's added when you apply for an individual credit account and includes the following:
- A credit enquiry for each application you make
- The type of account you're approved for (a credit card in this case)
- The total credit limit for that account
The main difference between individual and joint accounts is that your partner will be listed as a joint applicant when these details are added to your credit file. His credit file will also show you as a joint applicant and joint cardholder when you apply and are approved for a credit card together.
It's worth noting that a joint credit card account is not the same as adding your partner as an additional cardholder. If you did that, he would get his own card linked to your account, you would be responsible for managing the account and any details about it would only be listed on your credit history.
But as both of you would share legal responsibility for a joint account, the way that it's managed can have an impact on both of your individual credit scores over time.
For example, if the two of you make repayments on time each month, this could have a positive impact on both of your credit scores.
On the flipside, if you or he forgot to make a payment by the due date, it could hurt your individual credit scores.
It wouldn't even matter which of you forgot to make a repayment in this situation. As a joint account, both of you are legally responsible, which means it will affect both your credit files.
You can reduce the risk of this by clearly communicating with each other about repayments. You may even want to set up automatic payments so that both of you know at least the minimum is paid by the due date on each statement.
You should also be aware that the total credit limit for the joint account will be listed on your credit file. So, even though you are sharing the account, the entire limit could impact your credit score depending on the credit limits for your existing accounts.
As the impact of a joint account can affect you and your partner differently, it's a good idea to talk through your goals before you apply. You can also learn more about the providers that offer joint accounts and compare joint credit card options in this guide to help find one that suits both of you.
Ask Finder is a regular column where Finder's expert writers answer your questions. All rates and fees are correct at time of publication and we only give general advice.
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