Credit Cards for Couples

by John Stevenson on November 23, 2010

Canada is a country where marriage and family values are still highly treasured. We simply love familial life and all: mutual love, shared responsibilities, hard work, noisy evenings with the kids, crowded holiday feasts and the occasional little squabble. And statistics prove this: almost half of the Canadian adult population is married, while the divorce rate (mere 2.46 divorces per 1,000) is one of lowest among the developed countries. Several important factors can be brought to account for such a marital bliss. Some of these are close attachment to the significant other, sound moral traditions and upbringing, industriousness, etc., but shared financial responsibility is not necessarily one of them.

In fact, it is not very frequent that Canadian couples share a joint credit card account and settle the bills together. And even when they do, it is not working perfectly well all the time. Many spouses simply prefer to retain some financial independence after the wedding and opt for separate credit cards without compromising marital intimacy in this way. It is all a question of personal character and the particular family circumstances.

If you have just tied the knot and are considering an application for a joint credit card with your loved one, there are a few important things you should keep in mind.

Having a joint account means, first and foremost, that you and your spouse will have the same responsibility in paying off its balance. This is a good thing if you can trust your partner to chip in his/ her share as required every month. If you, on the other hand, feel that you cannot rely on the financial abilities of your significant other, then, maybe you had better stay off the joint account. Money is the last thing you want to argue about – and it is a fact of married life.

With a shared card, you will be linked to your partner not only in good, but also in bad times. Even though you probably can’t imagine it now, should a quarrel between the two of you occur, your partner may decide to drag you down by increasing the payments made with the card. The issuer won’t care how healthy your relationship is – when the time comes to pay up, they will hold both of your responsible. So, if your partner proves incapable of making his/ her part of the payment, you will be the one to settle the obligation. If this scenario bothers you, it might be a good idea to apply for a card with smaller credit limit.

Another point to consider is that a joint card won’t let you make purchases without the knowledge of your spouse. With the joint card account, you will receive one common statement every month, enlisting all payments debited to the account, and you won’t be able to conceal any of your purchases. Such transparency is a double-edged sword, because it can either make your relationship more honest and stronger or become the prime cause of routine disputes. If you do not have shared hobbies or your spending habits are way to different, a joint account is just not your thing. Also, if you and your spouse contribute different amounts to the household budget and this is a contentious issue, separate accounts may work better.

A final very important feature of the joint credit card is that you and your partner share the same credit report on it. In other words, the credit card issuer will submit to the credit agencies the same information about you and your spouse, regardless of how much relative to him/ her you have spent or paid off.

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