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The Dos and Don’ts of Joint Credit Cards: A Consumer’s Guide

Joint Credit Cards offer great benefits for couples, roommates, and even a family. However, there are some things you should avoid.
Author: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)
Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Baruch Silvermann is a financial expert, experienced analyst, and founder of The Smart Investor.  Silvermann has contributed to Yahoo Finance and cited as an authoritative source in financial outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC Select, CNET, Bankrate, Fox Business, The Street, and more.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024
The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.
Author: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)
Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Baruch Silvermann is a financial expert, experienced analyst, and founder of The Smart Investor.  Silvermann has contributed to Yahoo Finance and cited as an authoritative source in financial outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC Select, CNET, Bankrate, Fox Business, The Street, and more.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024

The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.

We earn a commission from our partner links on this page. It doesn't affect the integrity of our unbiased, independent editorial staff. Transparency is a core value for us, read our advertiser disclosure and how we make money.

Table Of Content

What Is A Joint Credit Card?

A joint credit card is a type of credit card that is issued to two individuals who share a financial relationship, typically a couple or family members. Unlike individual credit cards, where one person is solely responsible for the card's use and associated debt, joint credit cards have both individuals equally responsible for the charges and repayment.

With a joint credit card, both individuals have the ability to make purchases, access credit, and manage the card account. The credit limit is shared between the two cardholders, and both parties are equally liable for any outstanding balances or debts incurred on the card.

Can You Have A Joint Credit Card?

Most national banks don't allow joint credit cards, so it may be difficult to get one. If your bank is a small one or you use a credit union to manage your finance , your chances to get a joint credit card are higher, so it's good to check with your bank or credit union.

However, most card issuers allow authorized users instead.

joint credit cards
Most banks don't offer joint credit cards (Photo by Bself/Shutterstock)

How Does It Work?

A joint credit card works by combining the financial resources and responsibilities of two individuals into a single credit card account. Here's how it typically works:

  • Application: Both individuals apply for the joint credit card together. The credit card issuer will evaluate the creditworthiness of both applicants, considering factors such as credit scores, income, and existing debts.

  • Cardholder privileges: Once approved, both individuals become cardholders and receive their own physical cards. They can use these cards to make purchases, access credit, and withdraw cash, just like with any other credit card.

  • Shared credit limit: The joint credit card account has a shared credit limit that is set by the credit card issuer. This credit limit represents the maximum amount that can be borrowed and spent using the card.

  • Responsibility and liability: Both individuals are equally responsible for the charges made on the card and are jointly liable for the repayment of any outstanding balances. This means that if one cardholder fails to make a payment, the other is legally responsible.

  • Billing and statements: The credit card issuer sends monthly statements detailing the transactions, balances, and payments due. Both individuals receive these statements and can monitor the card activity. Both cardholders need to review the statements regularly and communicate regarding charges and any discrepancies.

  • Repayment: Both individuals are responsible for making payments on the joint credit card. They can choose how to split the payment, whether equally or according to an agreed-upon arrangement. Late payments or failure to pay the required amount can negatively affect both cardholders' credit scores.

  • Credit reporting: The credit card issuer reports the account activity, including payment history and utilization, to the credit bureaus. This means that both individuals' credit scores can be affected positively or negatively based on how the joint credit card is managed.

It's crucial for both individuals to have open communication and trust when using a joint credit card. They should establish clear guidelines regarding spending limits, repayment responsibilities, and overall financial management to avoid any conflicts or issues.

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How Joint Credit Card Affect Credit?

A joint credit card can have both positive and negative effects on the credit of the individuals involved. Here are the main points on how it can impact credit:

The activity on a joint credit card is typically reported to credit bureaus under the names of both cardholders. This means that the payment history, credit utilization, and other account details will be reflected on the credit reports of both individuals.

If the joint credit card is managed responsibly with on-time payments and low credit utilization, it can help build a positive credit history for both cardholders.

Credit utilization, which is the percentage of available credit being used, is an important factor in credit scoring. With a joint credit card, the credit limit is shared between the cardholders.

If the card is consistently used close to its limit, it can negatively impact the credit scores of both individuals. It's important to keep the credit utilization ratio low to maintain a healthy credit score.

The joint credit card's activity can influence the credit scores of both individuals individually. Positive account management, such as making payments on time and keeping balances low, can improve credit scores.

Conversely, negative account activity, such as missed payments or high balances, can have a detrimental effect on credit scores.

If the individuals decide to close the joint credit card account or separate their finances, it's important to note that it may impact their credit. Closing a credit card account can potentially decrease the overall available credit, which may impact credit utilization ratios.

Additionally, if one person assumes responsibility for the debt during separation, it's crucial to ensure that the joint account is properly closed to prevent any future liability.

How To Get A Joint Credit Card

Some credit card issuers offer joint credit cards as an option for couples or family members who want to share a credit card account. However, most credit card issuers don't provide this option, so it's important to check with individual issuers to see if they offer joint credit cards.

When applying for a joint credit card, both individuals must meet the issuer's eligibility criteria and go through the application process together. This typically involves providing personal information, such as identification, income details, and credit history, for both applicants.

It's worth noting that the policies and requirements for joint credit cards may vary between credit card issuers. Some issuers may require that the joint applicants have a certain level of financial connection, such as being spouses or partners. Others may have specific restrictions or additional documentation requirements.

If you're interested in obtaining a joint credit card, it's advisable to research different credit card issuers and their offerings. Compare the terms, benefits, fees, and requirements associated with joint credit cards to find the one that best suits your needs. Additionally, carefully review the terms and conditions of the credit card agreement to understand your rights, responsibilities, and any potential risks involved.

Which Banks Offer Joint Credit Cards?

Currently, there are limited options for joint credit card applications at major banks. One bank that still offer joint credit cards is U.S. Bank . With U.S. Bank, applicants can apply for a regular point-earning or cash-back card and then contact the bank to add the joint owner to the account. A form will be provided for completion, and once submitted successfully, the joint owner's credit report will reflect the account. 

Aside from these major banks, there are smaller financial institutions, such as regional banks and local credit unions, that may offer joint credit card applications as well. 

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Joint Credit Card Alternatives

If you're looking for alternatives to a joint credit card, there are a few options to consider:

  • Authorized User: Instead of a joint credit card, you can add an authorized user to your existing credit card account. This allows another person to make purchases using your card, but they are not legally responsible for the debt. As the primary cardholder, you retain full control over the account.

  • Separate Individual Credit Cards: Instead of sharing a joint account, each individual can maintain their own individual credit cards. This allows for separate credit limits, individual responsibility for debt, and the ability to build personal credit histories independently.

FAQs

To apply for a joint credit card, you will need to provide the lender with information about each applicant, including your names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and income.

Removing a joint owner from a joint credit card account can be complex and may require contacting the credit card issuer. It's best to consult with the issuer to understand the specific process and requirements.

If one of the cardholders dies, the other cardholder will still be responsible for the account. The issuer may allow you to keep the account open, but you will need to provide them with proof of the death, such as a death certificate.

If one of the cardholders stops making payments, the other cardholder will still be responsible for the debt. The lender may send you a late notice and may start charging late fees. If the payments are not made, the lender may eventually file a lawsuit against you.

No. Joint credit cards are much less common compared to individual credit cards. However, some financial institutions still offer this option for individuals who wish to share a credit card account.

Picture of Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Baruch Silvermann is a financial expert, experienced analyst, and founder of The Smart Investor.  Silvermann has contributed to Yahoo Finance and cited as an authoritative source in financial outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC Select, CNET, Bankrate, Fox Business, The Street, and more.
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