Joint Credit Cards: What You Should Know Before Getting One
Are you thinking of getting a joint credit card with your spouse, partner, family member, or friend? A joint credit card can be a convenient way to share expenses, but it can also lead to financial problems if not managed properly. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know before getting a joint credit card, including the benefits, risks, and tips to use it wisely.
What is a Joint Credit Card?
A joint credit card is a credit card account shared by two or more people who are jointly responsible for the debt. It means that both or all of them can use the card to make purchases and payments, and the credit history and score will be reported to all of their credit reports. The card issuer will hold both or all of them accountable for paying off the balance, regardless of who made the charges. The terms and conditions of the joint credit card will be the same for all of the cardholders.
Benefits of a Joint Credit Card
There are several benefits of having a joint credit card, such as:
A joint credit card can make it easier to split expenses between partners or family members, especially if they live together or share bills. It can be useful for paying for household expenses like groceries, utilities, rent or mortgage, or entertainment, without having to divide the payments manually.
A joint credit card can help build or improve the credit history and score of both or all of the cardholders, as long as they make payments on time and keep the balance low. It can also be helpful for someone with a limited credit history or bad credit to piggyback on the good credit of the other cardholder.
Rewards and Benefits
A joint credit card can earn rewards, points, or cashback on purchases, which can be shared or redeemed by both or all of the cardholders. It can also provide benefits such as travel insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty, or fraud liability, which can benefit both or all of the cardholders.
Risks of a Joint Credit Card
There are also several risks of having a joint credit card, such as:
A joint credit card means that both or all of the cardholders are equally liable for the debt, even if one of them overspends, misses payments, or defaults on the account. It can lead to arguments, disagreements, or legal action if one of them cannot or refuses to pay their share of the balance.
A joint credit card can also damage the credit history and score of both or all of the cardholders, if one of them makes late payments, maxes out the credit limit, or defaults on the account. It can affect their ability to get approved for loans, credit cards, or housing in the future, and may result in higher interest rates or fees.
A joint credit card can strain the relationship between partners, family members, or friends if they have different spending habits, financial goals, or communication styles. It can also create a power dynamic if one of them controls the card or the payments, or if they use the card for personal expenses without the consent or knowledge of the other cardholder.
How to Get a Joint Credit Card
If you decide to get a joint credit card, here are the steps to follow:
Choose a Card
Research and compare the options available for joint credit cards from different issuers. Look for the ones that offer low-interest rates, rewards or benefits that suit your needs, and minimal fees. Make sure to read the fine print, terms and conditions, and the APR before applying.
Apply for the joint credit card together with the other cardholder(s). Fill out the application form with accurate and complete information, including your names, Social Security numbers, income, and employment details. You may be required to provide proof of identity or income.
Wait for Approval
The card issuer will review your application and decide whether to approve or decline it. They will consider your credit scores, credit reports, income, debt-to-income ratio, and other factors to determine your creditworthiness. If approved, you will receive the credit card in the mail, usually within 7-10 business days.
How to Use a Joint Credit Card Wisely
To make the most of a joint credit card, here are some tips to follow:
Communicate and Agree
Communicate with the other cardholder(s) regularly and agree on how to use the card, how much to spend, and how to pay the bills. Set a budget, track the expenses, and avoid overspending or impulsive purchases. Make sure to keep each other accountable and informed.
Pay on Time
Pay the balance on time and in full every month to avoid late fees, interest charges, or penalties. Consider setting up automatic payments or reminders to ensure that you don’t miss any due dates. You can also split the payment between the cardholders or pay separately if it suits your situation.
Keep the Balance Low
Keep the balance low and the credit utilization ratio below 30% of the credit limit to maintain a good credit score. Don’t use the card for emergencies or unexpected expenses unless necessary, and don’t carry a balance from month to month unless you have a low-interest rate or a 0% APR.
Tips for Managing a Joint Credit Card
Here are some additional tips for managing a joint credit card:
Monitor the Activity
Monitor the activity on the joint credit card regularly and check the statements for errors, fraud, or unauthorized charges. If you notice anything suspicious, report it to the card issuer immediately and dispute the charges if necessary.
Update the Contact Information
Update the contact information, such as the mailing address, phone number, or email, of the joint credit card account to ensure that you receive notifications, alerts, or updates from the card issuer.
Plan for the Future
Plan for the future and discuss the exit strategy if one of the cardholders wants to close the joint credit card or remove their name from it. Consider transferring the balance to another card, paying off the debt, or dividing the debt and closing the account.
Alternatives to Joint Credit Cards
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of a joint credit card, there are other alternatives to consider, such as:
An authorized user is someone who can use your credit card account, but is not responsible for the debt. You can add an authorized user to your credit card account, and they can use the card to make purchases and payments, but you will be liable for the balance. You can set limits on the authorized user’s spending and remove them from the account at any time.
You can also get separate credit cards for each person, and use them for individual purchases or bills. This way, you can build your own credit history and avoid the risks and complications of a joint credit card. However, you will not be able to share rewards or benefits, and you may have different interest rates or credit limits.
A secured credit card is a good option if you’re new to credit or have a low credit score. It requires a security deposit upfront, which becomes your credit limit. You can use the secured card to make purchases and payments, and build your credit score over time. However, you will not have access to rewards or benefits, and the fees and interest rates may be higher than a regular credit card.
Joint credit cards can be a convenient and beneficial way to share expenses, build credit, and earn rewards. However, they also come with risks and responsibilities, such as liability for the debt, impact on credit scores, and potential conflicts or disputes. Before getting a joint credit card, make sure to communicate with the other cardholder(s), agree on the terms and conditions, and use the card wisely and responsibly. If you have any doubts or concerns, consider exploring other options, such as authorized user or separate credit cards. By following these tips and guidelines, you can make the most of your joint credit card and avoid any financial stress or hardship.
What is a joint credit card?
A joint credit card is a credit card account shared by two or more people, who are equally responsible for the debt and payments.
What are the benefits of a joint credit card?
The benefits of a joint credit card include sharing expenses, building credit, earning rewards, and simplifying financial management.
What are the risks of a joint credit card?
The risks of a joint credit card include liability for the debt, impact on credit scores, potential conflicts or disputes, and loss of privacy or control.
How do I apply for a joint credit card?
To apply for a joint credit card, choose a card, apply together, and wait for approval. Make sure to read the fine print, terms and conditions, and the APR before applying.
What are the alternatives to joint credit cards?
The alternatives to joint credit cards include authorized users, separate credit cards, and secured cards.