Building credit with spouse using credit card(s)

Hi all, my wife and I would like to have a "joint" account so we can both use the same card and build credit together. Currently we mostly use an Amazon Visa, but it has my name on it and she could only be an "authorized user", meaning she's not building credit with it. So she's got her own credit card but rarely uses it because it has no rewards and it's just easier to use one.

And we're finding that truly "joint" credit cards and rare, and generally don't have the best rewards out there. For example, we'd love to get the Citi Double Cash card, but, like most credit cards, they don't offer joint accounts. All of our bank accounts are shared and we file jointly on our taxes.

How do other folks handle this with a spouse or partner? Are there are any good credit cards that offer true joint ownership? Or otherwise, what's the simplest way to ensure we're both spending about the same amount on our separate credit cards so we're getting the same benefits to our credit scores?

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  • We each have our own credit cards. We have the same thing, mine does not have rewards and his does. My card is actually tied to a line of credit which we are using to pay down debt. So, I have it for that. We have a joint mortgage but we both had mortgages on our own before we met (second marriage for both of us). I also like to have a card in my name only in case anything goes wrong. If my spouse were to die or leave, our joint account could create issues because it could be frozen leaving me with nothing. Having a card in my own name is just a precaution in case.

    Like 2
    • MadDog I hadn't thought about the idea of security/precaution with separate credit cards - I'd like to imagine neither of us would ever leave, but I know life can happen so it's very sensible to be prepared and have that added flexibility, particularly in case of death. Sad to think about but smart.

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      • MadDog
      • Navy_Blue_Pegasus.2
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Silver Guitar yes, it can be morbid but these things do happen regardless of what we want. And it can be a tough discussion because people think that it means that you are thinking of leaving the marriage....when it is just a practical what if discussion. 

      Like 1
  • Silver Guitar said:
    Or otherwise, what's the simplest way to ensure we're both spending about the same amount on our separate credit cards so we're getting the same benefits to our credit scores?

    The actual number of dollars you spend with a card does not impact your credit score, only the utilization does - the percentage of the total credit limit in use on the date the balance is reported to the credit reporting agencies (usually the statement close date).

    Like 2
    • Vibrant That's super helpful, thanks! So maybe more of the issue there is that the total credit limit would be lower for the person who doesn't have the primary credit card under his/her name. Because I'm the primary account holder of the card we use most right now, it seems it would be best to put the new card under my wife's name.

      Like 1
  • I believe that having anyone as an authorized user actually affects their credit report and score. I have my brother and fiance and there score reflects my long history of credit card usage and payments. 

    Like 2
    • Gironaso Ah I hadn't been aware of this - this may alleviate the whole worry for us. The main concern I had was that, by only using a card that's officially under only one of our name's (i.e. not a true "joint" account), the other would be missing out on the positive history of credit card usage and payments. Thank you!

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      • Vibrant
      • No more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars
      • vibrant
      • 4 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Silver Guitar Your wife should pull her credit reports and see what all is reporting! She can do this for free once a year at annualcreditreport.com and get her official reports from the three major credit bureaus, or she can sign up for a free account with a credit monitoring service like Credit Karma, which pulls your report data on a regular basis and gives it to you for free in exchange for being allowed to advertise to you.

      Like 2
    • Silver Guitar I'm fairly sure that it does reflect on both people's score.
      But having cards in her name that she can use is not a bad thing, either.

      Like 1
    • Vibrant Thanks that's an excellent idea! I am in the habit of pulling those annually but hadn't thought to check for what accounts show up there.

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    • Vibrant Gironaso Just pulled her report and unfortunately see no mention of the card that she's an "authorized user" on 😢 Only things that are actually in her name.

      Our plan for now is to open the new card in her name, with me as an authorized user, and hopefully build up the available credit on that one so she can get a similar amount of credit benefit.

      Like 2
      • Gironaso
      • gironaso
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Silver Guitar That's so odd. How long ago did you add her to the card? Does the card report to the bureaus each month or every quarter?

      It took a bit of time for my fiancé to see her score change, but it definitely helped her credit score. I added my brother years ago and his credit history reflects mine. I also found some articles that might help you. 
      If you do open up a new account, I would actually recommend the Chase Sapphire card. I used it as was able to get the 80,000 points after 4k in purchases! 

      https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/authorized-user-credit-score

      Like 1
      • Gironaso
      • gironaso
      • 4 mths ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Silver Guitar Also, once you add each other to your credit cards simply request a new card from the company. They will send one to each of you with your name on it, since both of you are authorized users. I did this and my fiance got her own card with her own name on it; although she's just an authorized user on them. 

      Like 1
    • Gironaso Thanks for sharing this info! We added her at least a couple years ago as an authorized user. It's a Chase Amazon card and she has her own card with her name on it. It's weird that you also have a Chase card and it seems to have a positive impact for authorized users. I may call Chase to check and see about this...once I muster the patience to wait on hold for a long, long time! 😄

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    • Gironaso Apparently reporting authorized user ship can be weird.  I have a card I opened with some long-ago roommates for joint household expenses.  When we moved out, I removed them all as authorized users. I don't use the card because it doesn't have any rewards and has a low limit, but keep it open because I need more longevity of accounts on my credit report (or so credit karma says). I recently put a small charge on it to keep it open, and it showed up on one of those past roommate's reports. When I called the credit card company, that roommate was not an authorized user.  One of the others still was, and it didn't show up on the latter's report. 

      Like 1
    • Fuzzball Meows Ack that's kind of creepy. A peek into the weird world of credit reporting!

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    • Silver Guitar Yes. It was very weird. And creepy. Particularly since I removed them both as authorized users *counts* over half a decade ago. 

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    • Fuzzball Meows Gah I don't like the sound of that one bit!

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      • Annieland
      • I was told there would be no math.
      • Annieland
      • 4 mths ago
      • Reported - view

      Fuzzball Meows Wow I never thought of something like that.  I've had two non-family authorized users, and I think I keep forgetting to take one of them off.  But if anything, it's to their benefit as I pay my cards.  I would NEVER want to be authorized on one of their cards!  Unless it's one of the ones she keeps in a block of ice in her freezer.... 😬

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  • If you can each qualify for a credit card, get two.  Use one for all recurring regular expenses, and one for everything else.  Then if one gets compromised you know where all your recurring bills are and hopefully it won't be that one!  After so many occurrences of unauthorized use on so many of my cards, we designated one (his name) for recurring bills and another (most are in my name) for all the online and local purchases.  Works well!

    Like 2
    • Annieland Love the idea of designating one thing for each. Our plan would be to just use the Amazon card for Amazon & Whole Foods with 5% back, then Citi Double Cash for everything else with 2% back. And I need a new card for my side hustle expenses on the side, sigh... Still more complex than I'd like, but at least  I'll be happy with knowing readily which card is used for what!

      Like 1
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