Joint credit cards
The pros and cons, who's responsible, how to apply and the 7 Australian banks that offer joint credit card accounts.
A joint credit card is a type of account where two people have access to all the credit card's features and share responsibility for managing and paying it off. Only a few credit card providers in Australia allow you to apply for a joint credit card with your partner or a family member. So, let's take a look at your options.
Financial institutions that allow joint-account holders
This table shows the banks that accept joint credit card applications in Australia – plus any specific conditions for the application process.
How do joint credit card accounts work?
A joint credit card gives you and another person equal account access and status. This means you can both use the card and both share financial responsibility for the account.
When you apply for a joint credit card, the bank or issuer will consider the personal and financial details of both you and your partner. When you apply, the details will be listed on both your credit reports and can impact your individual credit scores.
Pros and cons of a joint credit card account
- Increased chance of approval. If you have a lower credit score than your partner, a joint credit card application can improve your chances of getting approved. This is because the credit card provider will assess both applicants jointly and a strong credit score could balance out the weaker one.
- More flexible credit limits. The combined income of two people usually results in a higher credit limit or a more flexible one than the limit you might be offered when you apply individually.
- Reduces bills and fees. Having a joint credit card account means you get one bill each month instead of two or more. This makes it easier for you to manage shared bills and also saves on costs such as interest and annual fees.
- Limited options. Only a few credit cards offer joint accounts, which means you have fewer options to choose from and compare.
- Overspending risks. With two people spending on one card at the same time, there is a higher chance of going over your credit limit. Make sure you both track the account balance and share spending details so that you can avoid fees and other issues that can come from maxing out a card.
- Shared debt. Getting a joint account credit card means you are both responsible for it. So even if only one of you uses the card, you could both face legal repercussions and bad credit scores if there are issues with the account.
What is the difference between joint-primary cardholder accounts and secondary cardholders?
It's important to understand both of these terms when you plan on sharing a credit card account with your partner or someone else, as it can have an impact on the balance transfer options as well as your legal rights.
|Joint-primary cardholder accounts||Primary cardholder accounts with secondary cardholders|
|Two people have applied for a credit card under the cardholder's name and both have complete access to the account.||One person has applied for a credit card in their name but wants to share the account with a partner (without joint account status).|
|Both have the ability to change credit limits, request account freezes or close the account.||Primary cardholder can request to add a secondary or additional cardholder but only the primary cardholder has control over credit limit changes, account freezes or account closure.|
|Both partners have regular sources of income and good credit histories.||Only the primary cardholder's income and credit history is assessed.|
|Both parties remain liable for all transactions and payments made on the card.||The primary cardholder is legally responsible for all transactions and payments made on the card, even if a balance has been transferred from an account held by the secondary cardholder.|
|If the closure of an account is the result of a divorce or a separation, both partners might have to pay half of the debt each, no matter who made which purchase.||In the event of a separation or a divorce, know that you, as the primary cardholder, would be liable to make repayments towards the entire account.|
How does having a joint account affect my credit score?
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 repayment history for the account
The main difference between individual and joint accounts is that the other person will be listed as a joint applicant when these details are added to your credit file. Their credit file will also show you as a joint applicant and joint cardholder.
Joint account holders also share legal responsibility for the account. This means the way that it's managed can have an impact on both of your credit scores over time.
For example, if repayments on the account are made on time each month, it could have a positive impact on your credit scores. But if neither of you make a minimum payment by the due date, it could hurt both of your credit scores.
As with any credit card, the credit limit is determined based on the issuer's lending criteria and assessment. The limit you're offered on a joint account could be different to the limit offered to you for an individual account as there are 2 people's details to consider.
But keep in mind that the total credit limit for the joint account would be listed on both of your credit files. Depending on the other credit accounts you have, this could impact both of your credit scores. It could also affect your chance of approval for other loans or products, even if you apply as an individual.
Other ways to share a credit card account
Most credit card issuers give you the option of requesting a supplementary or additional card for someone. In this case, you become the "primary cardholder" and your partner becomes the "secondary cardholder".
This means you are the only person responsible for managing the account and paying it off. The supplementary cardholder, on the other hand, is just an “authorised user” and has no liability for any debt owing on the credit card.
Compare credit cards that offer free additional cardholders
Frequently asked questions
You might also be interested in
- Community First application accessed 27 June 2023
- Hume Bank credit card application accessed 27 June 2023
- People's Choice Credit Union credit card application accessed 27 June 2023
- Heritage Bank balance transfer application form accessed 27 June 2023
- Bank Australia credit card information accessed 27 June 2023
- Australian Military Bank forms accessed 27 June 2023
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