A joint credit card allows two or more account owners to have the same privileges, rights, and responsibilities to the same credit account. The users spend and update the account details together.
Legally, the owners share equal responsibility for repayments and other matters arising due to the facility. However, when it comes to building credit, the impact of a joint account can differ from one user to the other.
Card issuers review the credit histories of all applicants before approving application of a joint credit card. This means that successful approval of the credit card is determined by the credit statuses applicants.
So, what does this mean?
A low credit score of one of the applicants affects another applicant’s good credit, and the loan is unlikely to be approved. In isolated cases, high credit scores for one of the applicants may help the applicant with a low credit score to qualify for a better deal.
What’s more, any of the approved users can pay for the usage of the credit card. Nevertheless, the legal liability for making payments falls on all users; each account owner takes 100% responsibility for the whole debt.
The payment history of the joint credit card is reported to credit bureaus. In addition, the same history appears in each of the owners’ credit reports.
As such, use of a joint credit card affects individual credit scores of joint account users. This is regardless of which owner made payments against the debt or spent money on the card.
The payment history, age of the joint account, and credit usage are accessible by all joint account owners. All these factors contribute to personal credit scores of the account owners.
Every timely payment adds a positive record to each owner’s credit payment history. Also, keeping the debt low reduces the credit utilization ratio. Both factors help in improving the credit rating of all users.
The opposite is also true: missed and delayed payments and overusing your credit limit lowers your credit score.
Credit scores usually depend on an individual’s credit history. This means that joint card holders have different credit scores that are determined by other credit accounts that aren’t shared.
The payment history for a joint credit card is reported separately. Joint account owners receive their unique and personal credit reports. Credit agencies do not offer a joint credit score.
If you have a trustworthy person, either a close relation or a friend, it is possible to build a joint credit card. All you need to do is to share the details of your credit card, spend, and pay the debt equally and jointly.
But, before applying for a joint credit account, a sincere discussion with your co-applicant is necessary. It is important to agree on shared responsibilities and any unforeseen financial consequences.
Most importantly, remember to maintain a transparent relationship with your joint card holder. You can achieve this by building a joint plan for spending on the card and repaying the card in a timely fashion. Why is this so? If you manage to establish and meet each other’s expectations, you will empower each other to build good credit scores.
Another shared benefit is that you will have fewer bills to manage. This is because your combined purchases appear on a single statement. Also, both of you can redeem points for rewards and benefit from features such as balance transfer and airline miles.
If your credit card co-applicant has a higher credit score, you will benefit more by having a joint application. You can access higher credit limits at favorable interest rates and enjoy more attractive reward programs that you wouldn’t qualify for with low credit rating.
That said, it’s important to note that each cardholder’s credit score is directly affected by the behavior and personal decisions made by their partner. This means that one user can intentionally act to hurt the other user financially.