What to do if your spouse has credit card debt

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Most experts would agree that talking about your finances is something every couple should do, especially before to marry. It also means your debt.

Kara Stevens, Founder of Personal Finance & Lifestyle Blog The frugal feminist, knew that it would be in his and his partner’s best interests to discuss money early on. So when she learned that her future husband had $ 19,000 in credit card debt, she asked him to pay before they to have married.

Below, Stevens talks to To select about what she’s learned from knowing her partner’s debt – and how this strategy can help.

What Stevens Learned From Asking About His Partner’s Debt

Stevens learned that his partner’s $ 19,000 in credit card debt wasn’t just frivolous spending. It included large purchases of life insurance, such as unpaid loan repayments for a auto, as good as medical bills and other general current expenses that have accumulated over time.

And she was also able to witness how he handled the money once she saw him pay it. By the time they got married, almost everything was gone, Stevens says.

“There were a few thousand lying around,” she admits, “but that was enough. [to see] the actual process of its elimination.

Being open about their financial situation allowed Stevens and her husband to see how they each handle money. But Stevens suggests it’s more than just knowing the numbers.

How Knowing Your Partner’s Debt Can Help You Both

“I think knowing the story behind the numbers is just as important,” says Stevens. Listening to her husband’s story helped her understand what her debt really was and come to terms with where he was in his repayment process.

Different people have different levels of knowledge about using credit, says Stevens. “But that doesn’t mean they aren’t improving it and doing what they have to do,” she says. Debt speaks volumes; maybe your partner lost his job, has no savings, or has financial difficulties caring for a family member and was dependent on a credit card to get by.

“You have to be open to hearing the story behind the numbers,” Stevens says.

What to do if your partner has a lot of debt or a bad credit score

Beyond just knowing the numbers and the story behind them, it helps to know how help your partner pay off their debt and improve their credit rating. Lenders will consider both of your credit histories if you plan to apply for a loan together in the future (like a mortgage on a new home), so it’s best that you work together to improve the situation.

One suggestion is to have your partner with the lowest credit score become a Authorized user on one of your card accounts. This would help them enjoy your better credit score and to reinforce theirs. Just be aware that some cards charge fees for authorized users.

The American Express Platinum Card®, for example, charges $ 175 per year for adding up to three authorized Amex Platinum card users and $ 0 for adding American Express® Gold Card authorized users (See prices and fees). This would help the primary cardholder to earn membership rewards for other people’s spending, while also increasing the credit score of the authorized user. (The authorized user would earn rewards at the Platinum card rate but have adjusted perks and perks.)

Credit cards that do not charge an authorized usage fee include: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card and the Citi® Double Cash Card.

And if you don’t want to share a credit card with your partnerThere are also a few cards that are marketed to people who specifically build or repair their credit history. Secure cards are generally the best choice for people with bad credit. These cards require a security deposit (often $ 200) which becomes your line of credit. When you use your secure card responsibly – paying your bill on time and in full every month – you can start to improve your credit score.

The Discover it® secure credit card is a comprehensive secure card that offers many of the benefits typically found with unsecured cards. Cardholders can earn cash, receive generous cash back after their first year (for new cardholders in the first year only), use the card abroad without incurring additional fees, and more, all without annual fees.

Whatever your solution and that of your partner, being financially compatible can only strengthen your relationship in the long run.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card information was independently collected by Select and was not reviewed or provided by the card issuer prior to posting.

For pricing and fees for the American Express Platinum Card®, click here.

For pricing and fees for the Discover it® Secure Credit Card, click here.

Editorial note: Any opinions, analysis, criticism or recommendations expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the editorial staff of Select and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise approved by any third party.

About Paul Cox

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