Taking Your Relationship to the Next Level: Is a Joint Credit Card Worth It?

joint credit card

Are you looking to join financial forces with your partner? Beyond shared bank accounts, some couples open joint credit cards together.

With a joint credit card, both of you can access the account and use the card. Because of this shared responsibility, you’ll need to fill out a joint credit card application together.

But sharing a credit card can get complicated. Find out what the benefits and drawbacks are — and even some alternatives to a joint credit card.

Pros of a joint credit card

1. Shared financial responsibility

With a joint credit card, you and your partner merge your financial choices. You’ll both make charges to the same account, and you’ll both be responsible for paying off the card each month. If you’re savvy about credit card rewards, then you can work together to maximize your points.

All of this shared responsibility is a big commitment. To use a joint credit card responsibly, you and your partner need to be on the same page about your finances. Have an open discussion about expectations, and keep transparent records of your financial moves.

2. Better credit card terms

Before you can open a credit card, you must get approved. Banks and lenders grant approval based on your salary and credit score. When opening a joint credit card, both you and your partner file the joint credit card application.

With a joint account, one person can help the other get better terms than they would alone. Let’s say you your salary and credit score are a lot higher than your partner’s. By applying together, you can help them get a lower interest rate and higher credit limit than they would on their own.

3. Ability to improve credit score

Do you have strong credit, but your significant other has a low score? By responsibly managing a joint credit card, you can help your partner build up their credit score. Of course, you’ll both need to spend within your budget and pay off the balance in full every month.

Cons of a joint credit card

1. Joint liability

Couples often open joint credit cards to share responsibility. But that also means that both people are liable for any debt.

There’s no way to separate out who made what purchase. If you fail to make a payment, then both of you are on the line to take care of it.

This complicated situation is probably why many banks have stopped offering joint credit cards. They’d prefer to have one clear owner of an account, in case there are any disputes.

2. Both credit scores are vulnerable

Both of you file a joint credit card application, so both of your credit scores are affected by the account. If one of you spends over the limit, then both of your scores will take a hit.

Similarly, if you need to close the account, then both of you will see your credit scores go down.

3. You could break up or get divorced

If you and your partner are married, then you’ve already merged some of your assets. Adding a credit card on top of everything is one more complication in the event you get divorced.

Plus, if it turns into a messy situation, you could get hurt financially. Presumably, your partner would never charge a first-class ticket to Australia on your joint credit card out of spite. But you wouldn’t be protected if they did.

Alternatives to opening a joint credit card

Today, your options for joint credit cards are limited. Only three major banks — Bank of America, U.S. Bank, and PNC Bank — offer joint credit cards.

So instead of going with a joint account, it might be easier to choose a card based on its terms and rewards. Here are two alternatives to opening a joint credit card:

1. Open an account with a co-signer

If you need help opening a credit card due to a low credit score or lack of credit, you could apply with a co-signer. Often, young people sign up for their first credit cards with a parent so they can start building credit.

Co-signers don’t have full access to an account, but they do assume responsibility for the debt. If the account holder fails to pay, then a co-signer must step in and take care of the bill.

If you need help opening a credit card, then asking your partner to co-sign could be the way to go. Just make sure that the co-signer understands the risks of this commitment.

2. Add an authorized user

If you and your partner are mostly interested in sharing access to a credit card, then one of you could become an authorized user. Authorized users get their own cards in the mail, and they can use the card on the account as much as they’d like.

However, authorized users are not responsible for the account. If your partner goes on a massive shopping spree, you can’t make them pay for it.

That being said, an authorized user’s credit score can be affected. Adding an authorized user makes sense when you want to share a credit card and trust each other to use it well.

Should you open a joint credit card?

Joint credit cards have certain benefits, but you must also be realistic about their drawbacks. For many couples, it makes more sense to add a co-signer or authorized user than to merge their credit.

Plus, then you’ll have more options for credit cards and access to better rewards programs. Before filing a joint credit card application, make sure that the joint credit card itself is the best card for your lifestyle.

Are you searching for the best credit card? Check out this guide to learn which credit card is right for you.

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1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.29% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 1, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.29% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 4.20% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2017, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.23%. Variable interest rates range from 6.02% – 15.97% (6.02% – 15.97% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of your loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with Citizens Bank at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, Citizens Bank checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Benefit: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
5.29% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
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