Joint credit card accounts give you and another person the ability to share a line of credit, along with bearing responsibility for the debt repayment of that credit line. These accounts can have benefits as well as drawbacks so it’s important to learn the ins and outs of these cards and truly consider if a joint credit card account is right for you. Here’s what you need to know about a joint credit card account.
How do joint credit card accounts work?
So, what is a joint credit card account? In simple terms, joint credit cards allow you to share one credit account equally with another person, such as a spouse, family member, or friend. Meaning both people would have access to the same line of credit and are both responsible for paying charges made to the card. The debt on the line of credit is reflected on each person’s credit report. Co-owners have access to all the functions of the credit card and administrative authority.
Benefits of a joint credit card account
A joint credit card account can be a great option for people wanting to share the responsibility of a credit card. And if used responsibly, it can help co-owners improve their credit. Here are a few benefits of a joint credit card account.
Access to better lines of credit
Joint accounts can be a great option for those with lower credit scores to improve their credit by giving them access to credit card terms they wouldn’t otherwise qualify for. Getting a joint credit card with a person who has a more positive credit history gives you access to better interest rates and higher credit limits.
Help improving your credit score
If you become a co-owner in an account with a cardholder who has a positive credit history and the joint account is kept in good standing, meaning payments are always made on time, it can help raise your credit score too!
Fewer bills to manage
A joint account with someone you trust can make it easier to manage bills each month. This account is a great option for owners, like a married couple, to simplify their bills. Both account holders will have the same access and privileges of the card, with the simplicity of one bill.
Drawbacks of a joint credit card account
While joint credit card accounts have benefits, they also have some major drawbacks that could negatively affect your financial standing. Take these into consideration before opening a joint account.
Your credit score can be negatively impacted
On a joint credit card, both account holders’ credit history will be affected, which can be a positive or a negative depending on the situation. If one user racks up high debt or payments are missed on the account, both owners’ credit scores will take that hit. Remember, on a joint account you are co-owners so you are equally responsible for paying off the card’s balance regardless of who incurred the charges.
Relation changes can make things complicated
Because you are both responsible for the debt and payments on the card, if your relationship changes with the co-owner, it could leave you with their debt, missed payments, and a lower credit score.
Lack of spending privacy
While no privacy isn’t as serious of an issue as your finances and credit history being negatively affected, it could put some strain on your personal space. The charges will be accessible to both account holders, so if you need discretion regarding whom you choose to share your account with, keep this in mind.
Joint credit card vs authorized user
Keep in mind, having a joint credit card is different from adding an authorized user to an existing account. Authorized users’ credit score doesn’t affect the approval of a credit card and they are not legally responsible for the repayment of the debt on the line of credit. Authorized users won’t have access to any of the administrative functions of the account owner. Similar to joint accounts, authorized users can spend and make payments towards the account and most credit cards report the card’s payment history to both parties’ credit reports.
Is a joint credit card right for you?
If you’re considering a joint account, It’s important to have an open and honest discussion with the co-applicant about the responsibilities of opening a credit line together. Discuss your spending habits and views around money, and make sure each of you understands the legal responsibilities around a joint credit card account.
What is the difference between joint cardholders and authorized user on a credit card?
Joint cardholders are co-owners and both bear equal legal responsibility for debt repayment to the credit line. They also have the same administrative access to the line of credit. An authorized user isn’t legally responsible for any debt repayment and does not have administrative abilities.
Will a joint account hurt my credit?
A joint credit card account can hurt your credit score if payments are missed or large amounts of debt are racked up, regardless of who misses the payments or makes the charges.
Do joint credit cards have the same number?
No, both cards will have unique numbers and will arrive separately as a security feature. The cards will still be tied to one account regardless of the number on the cards.