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Help! I’m Marrying Someone with Bad Credit

You and your future spouse have discussed your finances, and you’re worried about their bad credit.  Don’t be discouraged! A low credit score is no reason to call off the wedding, but it will mean you'll need to plan your finances more carefully. 

For young couples, it may seem insane to risk your good credit for someone else's sub par score, but is there really any risk? Here are the answers to that question, and more. 

Will his credit score hurt mine?

Your credit score will remain intact, and so will his. The two of you will carry your preexisting individual credit histories into the marriage. If you wanted to apply for a new credit card or a loan in your name alone, then you should be fine. However, when applying a joint account, both of your histories will be reviewed. Even though “joint credit” technically doesn’t exist, his lower score can negatively affect a loan you applied for together. Depending on your spouse’s record, the two of you could end up with a lower rate, or even be turned down. Joint accounts will affect both you and your spouse’s individual credit reports for better or for worse, so exercise caution to avoid hurting your score and further lowering his as well.

 How can I improve her credit?

The first thing people will tell you is the most difficult solution: pay off debt! Create a budget with your spouse and work together to aggressively lower his debt. Pay on time, pay more than the minimum required, and focus on the accounts with the higher interest rates.  Add your partner as a joint account holder on an account with an extensive positive history. His credit score will benefit from your clean record. However, the both of you will be responsible for any debt amassed with his card. Be sure to discuss

Will we be able to buy a home?

You probably won’t get the lowest down payment or interest rate on a mortgage loan, but you will likely be able to make that big purchase. When you apply for a mortgage, lenders will check both you and your spouse’s credit record. Applying in your name may help increase your chances of being approved, as long as your income meets their requirements, and both of your names can still be on the deed. Having a financially smart friend or family member sign as co-borrowers is also an option, but that can hurt their credit if you miss payments. If your spouse has abysmal credit, it would be best to hold off on home buying; take at least a year to improve his credit score and your chances of getting a better mortgage on your first home.

Last Updated: February 24, 2015