What Happens to Your Credit When You Get Married?

Quick Answer

Marriage doesn't alter credit scores, but debt assumed afterward can affect both spouses’ credit. Future joint credit applications will use both spouses’ credit scores.

Groom and bride in wedding ceremony on the beach

Getting married does not change your credit file or your spouse's. In fact, marriage has no effect on the credit standing of either spouse—but the credit health of both partners can influence future efforts to borrow money or open credit cards as a couple. In some states, debts incurred after marriage, by either spouse, are considered the couple's joint responsibility. Here's what you need to know about credit after marriage.

How Does Marriage Affect Credit?

Marriage has no impact on your credit. Credit reports at the three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) do not record marital status. Credit scores, which are based on the contents of your credit reports, therefore cannot make marital status a factor in calculating your scores.

That said, actions you take after marriage can impact your credit. If you decide to take out a mortgage or car loan together, for example, lenders will review both spouses' credit before deciding whether to approve the loan. Because of this, each spouse's credit history—before and after marriage—can impact future borrowing.

Does Getting Married Combine Your Credit Reports?

No, there is no such thing as a couple's credit report. Your credit history and your spouse's will remain your own after marriage. If, as many couples do, you apply for loans or credit jointly after marriage, identical information about applications and payment history on those accounts will appear on both of your credit reports.

Does Marrying Someone With Bad Credit Affect Your Credit Score?

Marriage has no impact on the credit score of either spouse, but if your spouse has poor credit and you apply for a loan or credit jointly with them, their low credit score could hinder your ability to qualify for a loan—or lead to higher fees or interest rate charges than you'd get if they had a higher score.

What's more, if your spouse's recent credit history includes a bankruptcy filing or home foreclosure, you might not qualify for a joint loan at all, even if you have very good credit.

Will Changing Your Name Impact Your Credit?

No, name changes have no effect on credit standing. If you change your name after marriage, you should notify the issuers of any outstanding loans or credit accounts you may have. Your new name will appear in the personal information section of your credit reports within a few months, as lenders update their records.

Personal information listings, including name changes, have no effect on credit scores.

Do You Share Debt When You Get Married?

Any debt you've assumed before marriage remains your own after you tie the knot, while new debt you take on after the wedding may or may not be shared with your spouse—depending in part on the state you live in.

Community property states consider both spouses equally responsible for all assets and debts acquired by either spouse during a marriage—even if one party is unaware of them. Community property states as of 2024 are: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

In addition, Alaska, Florida, Kentucky, South Dakota and Tennessee have laws that enable couples to opt in to community property status.

Couples in other states (and those in Alaska, Florida, Kentucky, South Dakota and Tennessee who choose not to opt in to community property) follow common-law rules. These allow spouses to own previously acquired property and debt as individuals during marriage, but also lets them take on joint debts that benefit both parties (and any children) as a family.

A key advantage to taking on debt jointly with your spouse is it enables both of your incomes to be considered when deciding how large a monthly payment you can afford and how much money you can borrow (or how high to set your credit limit on a revolving account).

Should You Combine Accounts When You Get Married?

It's often advisable for married couples to pool their finances so both parties have a good sense of the financial big picture as they budget and make financial decisions, but the extent to which it's wise for you may depend on your preferences and the types of accounts and debts you have.

Banking and Investment Accounts

Sharing checking, savings and investment accounts may be prudent. It lets both spouses track long- and short-term cash flow and creates opportunities to discuss the potential need for shifts in budgets or strategy. That said, couples who choose to keep their accounts separate may want to have one or two joint accounts for certain bill-paying and saving activities.

Mutually Acquired Debt

Debts applied for jointly and acquired during the marriage are shared by default, since both spouses are equally responsible for the debt and have equal access to statements and payment information. Even if one spouse is the household's primary financial whiz, it's a good idea for both spouses to be familiar with all shared accounts and how to manage them.

Credit Card Accounts

Adding a spouse (or anyone else) as a full co-owner of an existing credit card account is virtually impossible, and it's increasingly difficult to find issuers that accept joint credit card applications.

However, using the same credit card accounts is as easy as adding your spouse as an authorized user on your card, and vice-versa. This gives both spouses the ability to use the card, make payments, view statements and otherwise manage the cards. It doesn't make the accounts fully shared, though: The primary account holder remains contractually responsible for repaying all charges made by any authorized user.

Debt Accounts That Predate the Marriage

Combining debt accounts that existed before the marriage makes sense for some couples, but it may be problematic in today's relatively high-interest environment. Adding a spouse to an existing mortgage or car loan typically requires refinancing the loan jointly as a couple—essentially applying for a new shared loan for the amount outstanding on the original loan.

If the original loan was acquired before the rapid interest rate hikes that began in 2022, refinancing at a lower rate could be difficult. So a new loan, which could involve substantial origination fees, could add significantly to your total financing costs.

On the other hand, if you or your spouse enters the marriage with an adjustable-rate loan or one with a high fixed rate assigned because of a comparatively low income or poor credit score, refinancing jointly could lower total borrowing costs. Be sure to run the numbers carefully—and consider seeking guidance from a financial professional—to understand whether it makes sense to pool existing debts with your spouse.

How Married Couples Can Improve Their Credit

The discipline and good habits that promote credit score improvement for individuals also apply to married couples. Working together to do the following can help build and maintain strong credit scores for both spouses:

  • Pay your bills on time. Payment history is among the most important factors that influence credit scores, and maintaining a steady history of on-time debt payments is a great way to build up your scores.

    Staying current with non-debt-related bills such as utilities and rent is important too: Those payments aren't normally reported to the national credit bureaus, but if they go unpaid they could appear on your credit reports as collection accounts, which can hurt credit scores. Additionally, you could get credit for those monthly payments if you use Experian Boost®ø to add them to your Experian credit report.

  • Avoid high revolving-account balances. High credit utilization rates—balances that exceed about 30% of the borrowing limit on credit cards or other forms of revolving credit—hurt your scores. Individuals with the highest credit scores tend to keep their credit utilization ratio in the low single digits.
  • Seek new credit only as needed. New credit applications cause credit report entries known as hard inquiries, which typically cause your credit scores to drop by a few points. Multiple inquiries over a short period of time—except in the case of rate shopping for a mortgage or car loan—can cause larger declines in scores. Allowing at least six months between new credit applications can help prevent accumulation of credit score dips caused by hard inquiries.

The Bottom Line

Your credit standing is one of the few things that won't change after you get married—but one thing that should change is your single person's tendency to keep financial matters to yourself. Having regular talks with your spouse about your debts, their repayment status and your household cash flow is healthy and important.

If you and your spouse want to apply for a mortgage or other credit jointly—or because, in community property states, you and your spouse will share responsibility for debts either of you incur—it makes sense to be open with each other about spending and debt. If you decide to seek joint credit, checking your credit report and scores through Experian for free can help both you and your spouse know how favorably lenders are likely to view your joint application.