Will my bad credit affect my girlfriend's credit?
March 29, 2011 9:02 PM   Subscribe

Will my bad credit affect my girlfriend's credit?

My girlfriend and I are living together. I've had bad credit in the past. It's getting better and soon I hope to have good credit. My girlfriend has near perfect credit.

I understand that opening a credit card or loan in both our names will put those accounts on both our credit reports. But we're not opening any accounts in both our names. What we'd like to do is:

1. Add her to my checking account so she can deposit, withdraw, use her own debit card (not a credit card).

2. We both have iPhones. My contract is up and we'd like for me to get an iphone under her account (family plan).

Are these doable with no harm? I don't want to do anything that harms her credit.

Thanks for any info.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't see how that would make any difference to her credit score, unless you somehow default on the cell phone plan. If the checking account is in your name, it probably reflects solely on your creditworthiness.
posted by twblalock at 9:18 PM on March 29, 2011

1. You should be able to add her as an "authorized user" rather than a joint account holder without affecting her credit. Ask your bank to be sure how they do their reporting.

2. If she has an established account with a good payment history, most carriers won't even ask for the identity or credit history of additional users (i.e. the added lines are all under the umbrella of the main account holder).
posted by amyms at 9:20 PM on March 29, 2011

If you create a financial association between you and her (eg a joint account, a group mobile phone contract) then you will almost certainly lower her credit score. This happens because when someone does a credit search on her, you will show up on the "Associated persons" section and even though she may have handled all of her credit perfectly, your presence will be enough to put off certain lenders.
posted by dougrayrankin at 10:03 PM on March 29, 2011 [4 favorites]

Don't do this when you're not even married. That just leads to all kinds of weird. (I am so glad I didn't cave in to my ex wanting to do this.) And as dougrayrankin said, you will lower her credit score.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:40 PM on March 29, 2011

Yes, having an "Associated Person" or "Financial Associate" with low credit on your report will lower your score. Any sort of credit agreement - which includes cell phone plans and bank accounts - puts you as an associated person. It's very inconvenient but you will have to keep separate finances (on paper anyway) to keep her score from being affected.
posted by teraspawn at 2:10 AM on March 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Adding her to your checking account will have absolutely no effect unless the account stays overdrawn for a prolonged period of time.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:13 AM on March 30, 2011

Yeah, the only way your bad credit can impact her in this situation is if either the joint checking account becomes delinquent (eg not just overdrawn, but overdrawn and the fee unpaid for a long period of time) or the iPhone bill goes unpaid.

I disagree that one shouldn't do these things before marriage - if you are living with someone and are in a committed relationship, there is no reason that a joint account to help manage joint expenses shouldn't be used.

For what it is worth, my boyfriend and I have a joint account (and both have separate accounts) and use the joint account for groceries, eating out, and household expenses. We're planning to get a joint cell phone plan sometime this year. However, we've been dating for 7 years, and we both have seen each other's credit reports and have comparable (highish) credit scores .
posted by CharlieSue at 6:57 AM on March 30, 2011

Just to clarify - you can't get listed as an "associated person" simply for having a non-deliquent checking account with someone. Checking accounts aren't regularly reported to credit bureaus unless they become delinquent. So Equifax, Transunion, etc will have no idea that you two share an account. If we were talking about a credit card, then you would be a "associated person" and could impact her credit score.
posted by CharlieSue at 7:06 AM on March 30, 2011

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