Time to Have the Talk: Discussing How to Fix Your Spouse’s Credit Score

When you’ve been with someone for a long time and are thinking about getting married, there are obviously a lot of considerations that should go into it. With such a big decision to make as a couple, one thing you should certainly take the time to talk about and potentially try to sort out is your overall financial picture, and that should absolutely include your credit scores.

The fact of the matter is that most people are likely to bring significantly different financial and borrowing backgrounds into a marriage, but these need to be considered carefully when planning the start of a life together. Simply put, most married couples tend to obtain at least some form of credit jointly, whether that’s a mortgage, a credit card, or an auto loan. However, what they may not know is that when they do so, their credit will be considered jointly, meaning that while the good parts of one spouse’s borrowing history will be taken into account, the missteps the other might have made will as well. For this reason, it’s important for couples to be honest with each other and, when necessary, work together to achieve a clean borrowing history that will give them access to the best and most affordable credit choices available.

Where to start

The most important thing to keep in mind when discussing credit history is to be completely honest. If you’ve got a few financial skeletons in the closet, keeping them from your spouse likely won’t do much good. Almost everyone makes mistakes dealing with their finances every once in a while, and issues that can arise — including missed payments, large debt loads and other such problems — are best brought into the open so that they can be addressed as reasonably and quickly as possible. Having a bad credit score is no way to go through life when you’re trying to achieve joint financial goals, but if your future spouse knows what you’re up against, he or she may be able to help you deal with the issues.

If you have large amounts of debt, for example, you will likely be able to come up with a plan that will allow you to pay it down in a reasonable, responsible manner together. Taking an extra $100 or more per month together in an effort to reduce balances and bring your credit score to a higher level may be a small sacrifice for you and your spouse to make, overall. In fact, the financial benefits of doing so may help you to save not only on accrued interest both in the near- and long-term — because any amount contributed to credit card debt above and beyond the minimum listed on the bill must, by law, go toward reducing a balance’s principal — as well as giving you access to more affordable credit in the future as well. The value you get for those one or two skipped nights out is likely to be considerable.

The same may be true if you or your spouse has a bit of a history of missing payments, more might need to be done to cut that out as well. Payment history makes up the single largest portion of your score — 35 percent in all — and therefore even one missed deadline can significantly endanger both an individual’s and a couple’s credit standing. Making sure all deadlines are met every month will also help couples to avoid penalty interest rates and fees that can likewise cost them money.

What’s the benefit?

Because credit histories are considered jointly when couples apply for a new account, having both be as high as possible is of the utmost importance to not only getting credit, but getting credit with the best possible terms. That, in turn, can potentially set you up for a lifetime of happy borrowing with as few financial difficulties as possible. However, it’s important to keep in mind these steps should be made at least several months in advance of any application you’re looking to submit, because it can sometimes take at least that long before any notable improvements are seen in a credit rating. Fortunately, the work could really pay off in the end.

Of course, when you’re trying to get both of your credit standings sorted out in as expedient a manner as possible, it is also wise to order copies of your credit reports, as checking them over for any potential unfair markings may help you to boost your ratings further. In some cases, it might also be helpful to work with a credit repair company, as these may be able to sort out any such issues more quickly than individuals or couples could achieve on their own.

Posted in Credit Repair
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