Marriage Does Not Combine Your Credit Reports

Dear Experian,

My fiancé is divorced and lost his house to foreclosure. He has a bad credit history including bankruptcy. When we marry what are the pros and cons of my taking his name? My credit is pretty good - good enough to buy a $132,000 home two years ago. I've heard that marrying and taking their name is a huge mistake if there are credit problems. Can you advise, please?


Dear PFI,

Taking your new husband's name will not cause your credit histories to be merged. It isn't your name that impacts your credit history. It is the activity that is associated with your name.

Married Couples Have Separate Credit Reports

Everyone has their own credit report, even after marriage. Each individual's credit history contains only the information that is reported in their name. When your lenders report your accounts in your new name, Experian will match it to your existing history and continue to update it, but only for the names associated with that account.

Joint Accounts Will Show on Both Credit Reports

So, your husband's accounts and credit history, such as the bankruptcy, prior to the marriage will not be added to your credit report after you are married, unless your name is added to them. Your account history will not be added to his report, either — unless you add him as a joint owner on your accounts.

Your husband might benefit from becoming a joint account holder on your accounts because the positive payment history would be added to his credit report.

This can be important because it is likely that you will want to apply for joint accounts that will require both of your incomes and credit history to qualify, such as a car loan so that the car title can be in both your names.

Marriage is a partnership, and you can work together to restore his imperfect credit history, but that doesn't mean you have to damage your credit history while doing so.

Thanks for asking.
- The "Ask Experian" team