Will spouse’s bad credit ruin my credit rating?

Dear James,

Can you please advise me?  I am married and my spouse has a bad credit rating. We have recently put both our names on a joint bank account. Will this affect my credit if I ask for a loan in the future? Thanks.

Romana, London

Dear Romana,

Contrary to popular belief, getting married does not link up people’s credit reports. But taking out any form of joint credit certainly will. As you’ve signed up for a joint bank account together, any lender checking your credit report will also be able to look at your spouse’s report, and vice versa. What effect this has on your credit applications depends on the contents of both your credit reports and also on the policies of the lenders making the assessment. If your spouse does indeed have a bad credit rating then this could potentially reduce any credit rating a lender calculates for you, although the main focus of this is still likely to be your own credit history. Now if your credit history is excellent then the impact of your partner’s poor history might not actually affect the outcome of your applications. But if your credit history is less impressive then it’s possible that your spouse’s poor track record could turn what might have been a ‘yes’ into a ‘no’.  What I suggest you do is sit down together and go through both of your credit histories. Then you can work together to target improvements that should benefit you both. You could use the Experian Credit Score to help you monitor progress.  (October 2012, updated March 2017)

James
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