How Does Marriage affect Credit?

A happy couple on their wedding day.

Credit reports do not merge with marriage. Any debts prior to marriage will remain on your credit report and will not show up on your partner's report, unless you add your new spouse to the account as an authorized user or joint account holder.

Getting married does not directly affect your credit scores or your individual credit reports. Each spouse will continue to have their own separate credit reports showing the accounts they had prior to entering the marriage.

Any new accounts opened jointly will appear in both of your credit reports. Joint account holders share responsibility for the debt. Any activity on the account will, therefore, appear on both credit reports.

Some states have community property laws where virtually any debt incurred during marriage is automatically considered joint. Contact your Attorney General to find out which states have community property laws.

Although each partner will always have their own individual credit reports, both of you will be responsible for any debt incurred on joint accounts, even if you aren't the one who made the charges. Regardless of who incurs the debt and who typically pays the bill, a missed payment on a joint account will negatively affect both of you.

If you are applying for something jointly, such as a mortgage loan, the lender will take both credit reports, and the scores for each of you, into consideration when deciding whether to approve the application.

So, while your reports will not be merged, your new spouse's credit report could affect your ability to access credit, and yours could affect theirs when applying jointly.

See more on marriage and credit reports on the Ask Experian blog.