Credit Report Q&A

Marriage and credit – tying the knot in more ways than you might think!

Dear myFICO,

I'm recently married and am wondering how my wife's FICO score is now going to affect mine. Do we have a joint FICO score? If I have bad credit but my wife has excellent credit, how does that affect our ability to apply for loans or credit cards?

Purchase, New York

Dear Ross,

Congratulations on your recent marriage! After the honeymoon the real fun begins – starting your life together. From a financial standpoint, that involves exciting stuff like buying a home and trading in your sports car for a minivan (okay, maybe not everyone thinks minivans are exciting).

Your FICO® scores are going to play a big part in many of your financial decisions as a couple. Here are some important facts you should know about FICO scores now that you are married:

  • You both have individual FICO scores; you do not have a joint score
  • When you apply for credit stating your joint income, lenders will usually look at both of your FICO scores when evaluating your loan application
  • Joint accounts, like credit cards, will affect both of your scores

If you have a poor score and your wife has a good one, you don't get to use hers when applying for credit. Worse yet, your bad FICO score may land you in the doghouse when you're ready to buy a car or a home. Most mortgage lenders will check both of your FICO scores when evaluating your loan application. Even if your wife's good score would qualify her for a loan with a good interest rate, your bad score may mean that, as a couple, you would only qualify for a loan at a worse interest rate. If your score is very bad, you may not qualify at all.

Just because you have a bad FICO score doesn't mean your wife will love you any less. In fact, you now have someone who can help you figure out the habits you'll need to build to get your credit in good standing. Since your wife has a good score, she's already demonstrating the practices you need to work on, such as always paying your bills on time, keeping the balances on your credit cards at a reasonable level and only applying for credit when you really need it. To get the complete lowdown on your FICO score and how it works, read this free booklet.

Until you get your FICO score up to par, you may still be able to get good rates on loans or other types of credit. The trick is for your wife to apply individually for the time being. Believe me, this won't be the only time you rely on your wife to save the day! As time passes and your FICO score improves, you'll be able to carry your share of your family's credit responsibilities.

Congratulations on your new marriage and we wish you both a lifetime of great FICO scores!

myFICO Team

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