6 Myths Couples Should Stop Believing About Joint Bank Accounts

Joint Bank Accounts
By Mandi Woodruff

Setting up a joint bank account to cover shared expenses is a pretty standard move for most couples, but things start to get a little dicey when credit cards join the mix.

"Many consumers are confused about what happens to their credit when they get married," says Ken Lin, CEO of Credit Karma.

Lin and his team have honed in some of the most widely-held myths about linking credit accounts.

Whether you're married or simply considering consolidating your finances with your partner, you'll definitely want to consider these points:

When I get married, we get a joint credit score. "Each person has their own credit score 'til death do you part," Lin says. "However, when you open credit or loan accounts jointly, that information will be reflected on each of your credit reports, for better or for worse."

Once I am married, we'll share all accounts. There's no switch that goes off the minute spouses step down the aisle together. You've got to do the dirty work yourself, which includes choosing the right credit card for both of you and designating one partner to manage bill payments.

There's a marriage tax penalty. "Just because you get married doesn't mean you'll pay more in taxes," Lin says. "In fact, couples with disparate income (a large gap between the paychecks of the husband and wife) saw an average tax break of $1,300, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The office also reported that 51% of married couples paid less in taxes jointly than they would have if they were single, while 42% paid more."

Since we're married, we have to file for bankruptcy together. That's another common misconception, Lin says: "Spouses may file a joint case; however, they do not have to file together. If only one spouse files, make sure you understand what property will be treated as part of the bankruptcy estate."

It's a bad idea to close joint credit accounts. It's true that closing credit accounts might ding your score temporarily, but sometimes it's the best option for couples hitting a rough patch. "For instance, if you're getting a divorce, you should close joint accounts so you won't be on the hook for your ex's spending sprees," Lin says.

Our combined income will bump up my credit score. False. Income doesn't even factor into your credit score at all. But if you're going to add another piece of plastic to your wallet, having two incomes to support it will definitely help out in the long run, Lin says.

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January 29 2013 at 1:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


January 29 2013 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I close credit card accounts when they get whacky or have problems. I usually do this by making sure the account is paid up and then throw the card in a drawer for a year to make sure things are clean. I will get a new card from another company in the mean time and bring them on line and eventually close the crappy account. I carry 3 credit cards, all joint, with one for the spouse, one for me and one we share together but use it specifically for certain purchases, like gasoline or in an emergency should the one card have a problem

January 29 2013 at 4:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I disagree with most of this post. I put my daughter's name on my credit cards and BAM! She instantly had a credit score over 800 like me. She got credit cards offered to her in amounts over $10,000. She now has credit that she didn't have to work for.
In Texas, if one of ya's screw your credit up, you screwed both of ya's credit up if you're married. That's why I stay single now. I worked too hard as a single woman in a man's world to get my credit score up there.

January 28 2013 at 6:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

my wife and i keep everything seperate and it works great

January 28 2013 at 6:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Robb's comment

Huh....then she really doesn't need you at all. Just sayin'...........

January 28 2013 at 6:49 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to cslinz62's comment

Some people marry for reasons other than money. Seperate accounts, married 40 years.

January 29 2013 at 12:17 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down

Hey this is 2013 ... and women don't have to marry for security anymore. And some of us choose not to marry because we want our own hands on the wheel.

January 29 2013 at 5:19 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down

joint bank accounts or any other joint financial transactions are very risky

January 28 2013 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ga7smi's comment

I agree. Keep your accounts separate and in different financial institutions or brokerage firms or buried in different secret plots on the estate.

January 28 2013 at 6:10 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply