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Changing your legal name can be a complicated process, especially when it comes to updating all of your financial accounts. If you want to update your credit card accounts, you may find the process is not uniform.
Each financial institution and credit card company has its own process for approving name changes, so you should start by reaching out to your issuer or examining their website to find out their policy, then gathering and submitting the required documentation. Read on to learn more.
Reasons to Change Your Name on a Credit Card
The most common reasons to change your name on a credit card are if you've gone through a marriage or divorce. Some people may also want to change their name on a credit card if they are undergoing a gender transition and legally changing their name in the process. A name change is a very personal decision and can happen for a variety of reasons, but regardless of why, it's key to make sure financial accounts are updated with the new name.
Steps for Changing Your Name on a Credit Card
If you need to change your name on a credit card account, follow these steps:
- Update your government-issued IDs. Before you approach your credit card issuer about a name change, first make sure to update your name on your Social Security card and other government-issued ID cards, such as your driver's license and passport. Your credit card company will likely want to see these new forms of legal identification in order to change the name on your account.
- Contact your credit card issuer. Find out what its policy is regarding changing the name on an account. Ask about what documents and forms are required and how they want you to submit them.
- Gather required documents. Now it's time to collect any documents and information requested by your issuer. Some may just want to see your new Social Security card or driver's license and will consider that enough proof. Others are more rigorous and may want to see legal documents, such as a marriage license, a divorce decree with the name change order in it, or in the case of a transitioning person, a court order for a legal name change.
- Submit your documentation. Some credit card companies may accept digital scans of documents, while others may want paper forms and documents sent via U.S. mail. Once you've sent in the documents following their instructions, follow up if your name change hasn't taken effect after the expected amount of time has passed.
Does Changing Your Name Affect Credit?
Legally changing your name won't affect your credit report at all. Additionally, neither does marriage. If you're getting married, your financial accounts aren't added to your spouse's credit report and theirs aren't added to yours. Your existing individual accounts stay on each of your respective credit reports, and you each maintain your own credit report. They don't merge into one.
The only way a marriage will impact your credit score is if you open a new joint account with your spouse. If you take out a mortgage or car loan together, or open a joint credit card account together, it will appear on both of your accounts and will impact both of your scores. But simply getting married and changing your last name will not result in any changes to your credit score, good or bad.
You also don't have to do anything to change your name on your credit report. Once you have updated your name with the Social Security Administration and with your creditors, the credit bureaus will receive this new information and update your report automatically. It can take a few months for it to take effect, since reporting schedules vary, but it will eventually happen without any effort required on your part. Your old name will still show up on your report as a former name, but your new name should update automatically.
Keep an Eye on Your Credit
If you want to check to make sure your name is successfully updated on your report, consider taking a look after a few months, which you can do for free with Experian. If your name hasn't updated, you may want to contact your creditors to make sure they have processed your name change.
Regardless of a name change, it's always smart to periodically monitor your credit report to ensure there are no signs of fraud and no errors that could be dragging down your score. Keeping tabs on your credit can also help you see how your financial decisions impact your credit score.