Marrying Someone With Bad Credit? Don’t Let It Damage Yours

 August 19, 2021
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Marrying someone with bad credit won’t necessarily drag your credit score down. Your credit reports won’t merge together, nor will you assume your partner’s debts.

However, your partner’s bad credit could still cause financial challenges for the two of you, especially if you want to borrow a loan or open a credit card together.

It’s important to have an honest conversation about your credit histories so you understand how each other’s credit could impact your financial lives. Plus, by getting all the facts upfront, you can take steps to help your spouse improve their credit.

Here’s what you should know:

Why marrying someone with bad credit won’t damage your credit score

On its own, your spouse’s bad credit won’t impact yours. You will each maintain your own credit histories, reports and scores after you get married.

Credit bureaus and lenders don’t consider your spouse’s credit when giving you a credit score or deciding to approve or deny a loan application in your name alone. Similarly, marrying someone with bad credit won’t lower your score at all.

There’s no such thing as a “couple’s credit score,” and your financial histories won’t become merged when you tie the knot. What’s more, any debts that your spouse took on before you got married won’t suddenly become yours, or vice versa.

So if you’re worried that marrying someone with bad credit will damage your credit score, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Possible challenges of marrying someone with bad credit

Although your partner’s bad credit won’t damage your own, it could still bring some challenges to your married life. Here are some times when your spouse’s poor credit could become a problem:

Getting a mortgage or loan together

If you two want to take out a loan together, your spouse’s bad credit could hold you back. Sometimes, lenders will look at the lowest score on an application, rather than averaging your scores together. So even if you have a high credit score, it won’t necessarily balance out your partner’s low score.

Ultimately, your partner’s low score could leave you unable to qualify for a loan together, or at least unable to get low interest rates. If this is the case, you might try applying for a loan or mortgage on your own. However, you won’t be able to include both your incomes on the application. If you’re pursuing a mortgage, you might not be able to get as large a loan based on your income alone.

Alternatively, some lenders may allow you to add a cosigner to your application, such as a parent with good credit. Adding a cosigner may help to offset your partner’s poor credit, but you’ll need to find someone who’s comfortable sharing this debt. If you and your partner make late payments, this cosigner’s credit would get damaged alongside yours.

Renting an apartment together

Some landlords run a credit check before permitting you to rent an apartment. If the landlord requires that both tenants have good credit, your spouse’s bad credit could become a sticking point.

In some cases, a landlord will allow a cosigner or endorser to vouch for you. Basically, this person signs your rental application and agrees to make payments if you fall behind.

But if you don’t have an endorser (or don’t want to ask anyone for this favor), it could become a major challenge as the two of you search for a place to live.

Sharing credit accounts

As mentioned, you won’t take on your spouse’s debts or lines of credit after you get married. But if you open an account together, your credit could be impacted by your partner’s actions.

If you share an account and a spouse is irresponsible with the debt, racking up high balances or missing payments, that affects your score. This negative borrowing behavior will be reported to credit bureaus and show up on your credit report since you are a joint owner of that account.

If your partner tends to miss payments on bills, you may want to be cautious about sharing financial accounts with them. Otherwise, their behavior could drag down your credit score.

How to help a spouse with bad credit

If your spouse does have bad credit, what can you do about it? There are lots of ways to work together as a couple to repair a poor credit history. For example:

Pull your credit report

Start by requesting a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. This credit report won’t reveal your credit score, but it will give you an overview of your various accounts, including any late payments, delinquencies or bankruptcies.

When you pull your credit histories and review them together, make sure to watch for any errors or misreported information. If either of you has errors present on your credit, take the time to dispute it and get it removed.

Check your credit scores

Some credit card companies will also provide your FICO Score for free, which is the score that most lenders look at when determining whether to approve you for a loan.

You can also keep tabs on your FICO Score at myFICO.com but this will require a paid account. As you take steps to improve your credit, you can monitor your score to make sure your efforts are working.

Add your partner as an authorized user

Another way to help your partner improve their credit is to add them as an authorized user to one of your credit cards with a longstanding positive history. This adds a credit line to the mix that has both a positive history and a long one. Both factors can help boost your partner’s credit score.

Your partner will be able to use the card, but you’ll still maintain responsibility for making payments. Note that your partner doesn’t have to use the card at all to benefit from this arrangement.

Pay down debts

Lastly, work together on paying down debts, especially high-interest credit card debt. Your “amounts owed” is a big factor in formulating a FICO Score. If you can lower your debts, as well as make on-time payments, you can boost a bad credit score.

How to prepare if you are marrying someone with bad credit

Every couple trying to combine their lives and finances needs to sit down to discuss their financial situations. Don’t assume your soon-to-be-spouse has great credit — have a frank discussion and talk specifics.

It’s important to be honest about your financial situations, including savings, income, debts and credit score. Bring any recent credit reports and scores to the discussion, and ask your significant other to do the same.

You’ll also want to talk about major debts or past delinquencies. It’s important to understand how the decisions to take on those debts were made, and the circumstances that led to a delinquency or default.

It doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker, but it’s important that the partner with a bumpy past owns up to those mistakes. That partner should show that they’re on the right path to fixing things and have a plan to avoid similar mistakes down the road.

Marrying someone with bad credit can introduce complications, but a poor credit score doesn’t have to be the end of your relationship, or even hold you back in your life together. Work together to fix it and soon, it’ll be a thing of the past.

Elyssa Kirkham contributed to this report.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2021!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
4.99% – 19.63%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

4.37% – 35.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

5.94% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upgrade

99.00% – 199.00%2$500 - $4,000

Visit OppLoans

5.99% – 24.99%3$5,000 - $40,000

Visit Payoff

7.99% – 20.88%4$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

9.99% – 35.99%5$2,000 - $36,500

Visit LendingPoint

10.68% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

9.95% – 35.99%7$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

For when we advertise static headline rates w/ all discount (i.e. autopay and money bundle) (NON PQ RATE):

Fixed rates from 4.99% APR to 19.63% APR include a 0.25% autopay discount and a 0.25% direct deposit discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 11/2/2021 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Additional state restrictions may apply. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Autopay Discount: 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, checking, or other account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings, checking, or SoFi Money account. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. Direct Deposit Discount: To qualify for an additional 0.25% APR direct deposit discount you must: (1) set up autopay with SoFi Money within 20 days of the funding of your loan, AND (2) setup payroll direct deposits of at least $1,000/mo to SoFi Money within 35 days of the funding of your loan. If you do not set up autopay with SoFi Money within 20 days of the funding of your loan, AND set up payroll direct deposits to SoFi Money within 35 days of the funding of your loan you will not be qualified for this additional 0.25% direct deposit discount. Once qualified, you will receive this additional 0.25% direct deposit discount during periods in which you have direct deposits of at least $1,000/mo turned on with your SoFi Money account.  This additional direct deposit discount will be lost during periods in which you have turned off direct deposits for your SoFi Money account. You are not required to enroll in autopay or direct deposits to receive a loan from SoFi. The Direct Deposit Rate Reduction excludes members from receiving the $100 SoFi Money® direct deposit promotional program. SoFi Money® is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC. Neither SoFi nor its affiliates are a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank.

For API partners when we return pre-qual offers only with all discounts (i.e. autopay and money bundle) plus direct payoff discount for those borrowers who select credit card payoff:

Fixed rates from 4.99% APR to 19.63% APR include a 0.25% autopay discount and a 0.25% direct deposit discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 11/2/2021 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Additional state restrictions may apply. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. 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, checking, or SoFi Money 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. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. Direct Deposit Discount: To qualify for an additional 0.25% APR direct deposit discount you must: (1) set up autopay with SoFi Money within 20 days of the funding of your loan, AND (2) setup payroll direct deposits of at least $1,000/mo to SoFi Money within 35 days of the funding of your loan. If you do not set up autopay with SoFi Money within 20 days of the funding of your loan, AND set up payroll direct deposits to SoFi Money within 35 days of the funding of your loan you will not be qualified for this additional 0.25% direct deposit discount. Once qualified, you will receive this additional 0.25% direct deposit discount during periods in which you have direct deposits of at least $1,000/mo turned on with your SoFi Money account.  This additional direct deposit discount will be lost during periods in which you have turned off direct deposits for your SoFi Money account. You are not required to enroll in autopay or direct deposits to receive a loan. The Direct Deposit Rate Reduction excludes members from receiving the $100 SoFi Money® direct deposit promotional program. SoFi Money® is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC.Neither SoFi nor its affiliates are a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. If you selected credit card payoff as your loan purpose then your pre-qualified rate also includes a potential additional 0.25% Direct Pay discount. To secure this discount, you will need to select Direct Pay as an option to pay off your credit card and apply 50% or more of your loan proceeds directly to your creditors.


2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.

Opploans Disclosures

Direct Deposit required for payroll.

Opploans currently operates in these states: . *Approval may take longer if additional verification documents are requested. Not all loan requests are approved. Approval and loan terms vary based on credit determination and state law. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day.

  1. To qualify, a borrower must (i) be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (ii) reside in a state where OppLoans operates; (iii) have direct deposit; (iv) meet income requirements; (v) be 18 years of age (19 in Alabama); and, (vi) meet verification standards.
  2. NV Residents: The use of high-interest loans services should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any loan transaction.

  3. OppLoans performs no credit checks through the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Applicants’ credit scores are provided by Clarity Services, Inc., a credit reporting agency.

  4. Based on customer service ratings on Google and Facebook. Testimonials reflect the individual’s opinion and may not be illustrative of all individual experiences with OppLoans. Check loan reviews.

  5. Rates and terms vary by state.


3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Rates and offer subject to change. All accounts, loans and services subject to individual approval.
  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 us 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, our 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 Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan 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. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $36,500, at rates ranging from a low of 9.99% APR to a high of 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history. The APR ranges from 10.68% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 9.56% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 13.11%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $192.37. The total amount repayable will be $6,925.32. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 2% to 6% (average is 4.86% as of 7/1/2019 – 9/30/2019). In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,001 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.


7 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.

**Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33.

Based on the responses from 7,302 customers in a survey of 140,258 newly funded customers, conducted from August 1, 2018 – August 1, 2019, 95.11% of customers stated that they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with Avant. 4/5 Customers would recommend us. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.


* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 5.94%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor. Personal loans issued by Upgrade’s lending partners. Information on Upgrade’s lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.

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