Should New Couples Have a Joint Credit Card?
Before you make your decision, it's best to know a little more about each of the options.
Joint credit card
For a joint credit card, both spouses sign the application and the associated credit card agreement. Approval could be based on your household's total income, as well as your individual debts and personal credit ratings.
The account is both names. You are both responsible for making the balance payments, regardless of who incurred the fee, so ask yourself if you are comfortable with your new spouse's credit card habits before applying for a joint credit card.
The credit card company regularly reports account activities to credit reporting agencies, so these activities, whether positive or negative, affect the credit of both spouses.
Both co-owners of a credit card are entitled to a copy of the credit card agreement as well as monthly statements. One of you may ask not to receive the monthly statement in order to avoid duplicates.
Please note that some lenders do not offer the option of joint credit cards. In this case, new couples can apply for separate credit cards.
When a joint credit card account makes more sense
Joint credit cards can be a good financial decision in these situations:
both spouses have good credit ratings, good incomes, responsible financial habits, and they want to benefit from the higher limit of a joint credit card based on the income of both spouses
both spouses have good credit ratings, but one spouse has a lower income and would not otherwise qualify for a credit card
one spouse has a good credit rating and the other wants to build his or her credit report
Make your spouse an authorized user
For most unsecured credit card accounts, and often with fees, Canadian credit cardholders can add a spouse (or someone else) to the account as an authorized user. This usually does not require credit verification or income details for the authorized user.
While many Canadian credit card companies hold the primary holder solely responsible for the card's debt, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada cautions that some credit card agreements state that even authorized users are responsible for the card balance, even if they have not signed the application. Read your user agreement carefully!
Adding a new spouse as an authorized user may be a good option if:
a joint application is refused because of the poor credit rating of one of the spouses
you want to avoid having to reapply for a full joint credit card
your preferred lender does not offer joint credit cards
Start your joint financial life on the right foot. While there is no ideal credit solution that applies to all couples, everyone should carefully read the fine print of credit card agreements before making a decision.