Each Spouse Has Their Own Credit Report

Smiling couple sitting in boot of new car at car dealership
Dear Experian,

My husband and I are thinking about purchasing a car. I just printed out my credit report from Experian. Should my husband check his as well? Should we buy a copy of our credit scores as well before we shop for a car? Since we live in a community property state, do we share a credit score? Also, how will purchasing a car affect our credit score? We will be buying a pre-owned vehicle. This is the first time I've gotten a copy of my credit report.

- YPE

Dear YPE,

I'm glad to know you got your credit report for the first time. Your husband should do the same. Everyone has their own credit report, even in joint or community property states. While joint accounts will appear on both, there can be differences, so you both should get your reports and review them.

In community property states, if your name is not on an account, it very likely won't be reported for you. However, it is my understanding that if your spouse dies or doesn't pay as agreed, you can be liable for the debt if the creditor chooses to pursue debt repayment from you.

I encourage everyone to get a copy of their free credit report at least once a year, and several weeks, or even months, before making a major credit purchase, such as a car. It is also a good idea to get a credit score and credit report, at least once because of its educational value.

Doing so will give you a very good idea of where you stand in lenders' eyes, and more importantly, will give you the information you need to improve your credit scores so you will qualify with no problems.

Whether the car is new or pre-owned has no affect on credit scores or your credit history. However, I encourage you to ask your lender if your loan will be reported to Experian or the other national credit reporting companies.

In some instances, usually associated with pre-owned cars, finance companies do not report your payments. As a result, the loan will do nothing to help you grow and improve your credit history.

Thanks for asking.
The "Ask Experian" team

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