How to apply for a joint credit card

How to apply for a joint credit card

How to apply for a joint credit card

Thinking about getting a joint credit card with a spouse, family member or friend? Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into.

With a joint credit card account, two people are equally responsible for the privileges and responsibilities that come with a credit card. That means that they can both make charges to the account, and they are both liable for the credit card balance. The details of the account appear on the credit reports for both owners. If the account becomes late or unpaid, the issuer can pursue both users for delinquency.

Because users on a joint account are equally responsible for the card and can both make changes on the account, you should consider all the advantages and disadvantages before applying for one together.

Pros of a Joint Account

A joint account can be useful for certain people who want to share the responsibilities of a card. A few of the advantages of a joint account include:

  • Someone with lower credit scores can get access to more favorable terms. If one of the cardholders doesn’t have as good credit as the other, they can take advantage of the joint account holder’s higher credit scores to gain access to better interest rates and higher credit limits on a credit card.
  • A joint account can help improve your credit. If the account is kept in good standing, after a period of time, a joint account can help lift the credit scores of a cardholder who needs more help in that department. It can be a useful way to build and establish credit for someone who needs it.
  • The users cut down on the number of bills. A joint account means fewer bills to manage each month, which can help two people, like a married couple, simplify their finances. Both users can also share all the privileges of a card, like credit card reward points.

Cons of a Joint Account

Of course, there can be some major disadvantages to having a joint account as well. Be sure to take these into consideration:

  • Both account holders’ credit history is affected. If one credit card user racks up a lot of charges on the account or doesn’t hold up their end of the payments, both of their credit scores will take a hit. And both joint account cardholders are equally responsible for paying off the card, regardless of who incurred the charges.
  • Disputes over the card can cause issues in a relationship. A shared account is fertile ground for fights, especially if both users are not on the same page. If you don’t agree about how much to spend or who should be making payments, this can lead to stress and discord in a relationship.
  • Changes in the relationship can make things complicated. If you end up divorcing a spouse or go through some other kind of breakup, a joint account is one more thing you will need to close or figure out how to handle. What’s more, one user can use the joint account to hurt the other user by spending and failing to pay bills on time or at all.

Should You Open a Joint Credit Card Account?

Each situation is unique, but you should know that a lot can go wrong with a joint account, so it’s a decision you should weigh carefully. If you’re considering a joint account, make sure you sit down and have a frank discussion with co-applicant about the responsibilities of the card, and about your spending habits and money philosophy in general.

It may make more sense to consider adding a spouse or family member as an authorized user if you’re concerned about not having full control over an account. And if you do open a joint account together, it still may make sense for each person to have a separate credit card in just his or her own name, as well.

There are other ways you can share a credit card without having a joint account, like making someone an authorized user or a cosigner.

How Adding an Authorized User Is Different from Having a Joint Account

If you don’t want to cede total control of your account to another person, you may consider making that person an authorized user. In this situation, the primary cardholder can add an authorized user to the account, who is allowed to make purchases on the card.

However, only the primary cardholder’s credit history and credit scores are taken into account when the credit card issuer issues the card. Further, only the primary cardholder is legally responsible for making all the payments on the card, and if the account becomes delinquent, the primary cardholder is the person on the hook.

The authorized user typically can’t make changes to the account—like requesting a credit increase—and the primary cardholder can remove the authorized user at any time. Being an authorized user can be a good way to establish or rebuild credit because in most cases, the account activity is reported on both the primary cardholder’s credit reports and the authorized user’s credit reports (though you should always ask the issuer to confirm).

If the account is in good standing, it can thus help an authorized user’s credit history. Conversely, a delinquent account can hurt the authorized user’s credit history. Primary cardholders should think carefully before adding a spouse or child as an authorized user because any negative behaviors on the authorized user’s part will impact the primary cardholder’s credit—and only the primary cardholder is responsible for paying the card.

Getting Credit with a Cosigner

While cosigners on loans are fairly typical, this is the least common option for sharing a credit card. If you have no or little credit history, you may try applying for a credit card with a cosigner who essentially vouches for you.

The cosigner’s credit history and income are used to open the credit card, and both the cosigner and the other applicant are responsible for the credit card payments. Both of their credit scores and credit reports will be impacted by any positive or negative actions on the account.

If you’re simply trying to build up your credit history and need a cosigner, applying for a secured card may be a better option.

Learn about joint credit cards and common alternatives

November 24, 2020 | 7 min read

Joint ownership is common for all kinds of financial products, whether it’s a checking account, savings account, mortgage or auto loan. But what about joint credit cards?

What exactly is a joint credit card anyway? And how is having a joint credit card different from having a co-signer or an authorized user? Read on for all the ins and outs of joint credit cards and their alternatives.

What Is a Joint Credit Card?

A joint credit card works just like a traditional credit card, except the account is shared by two people—each cardholder gets their own card that’s linked to the account.

The key difference between a joint credit card and a traditional credit card is that the benefits and responsibilities are shared equally by both cardholders. With a joint credit card, any activity on the card will affect both cardholders. And both cardholders are responsible for paying the balance on the card—even if one cardholder didn’t use the card at all.

Pros and Cons of Joint Credit Cards

Joint credit cards have their pros and cons—just like any other financial product.

A joint credit card can be convenient if you share your finances with a spouse, partner or loved one. Making payments on time and keeping the balance low can help both cardholders build a positive payment history.

But the opposite is true too. If one cardholder maxes out the card, makes a late payment or misses a payment altogether, it will affect both cardholders’ credit scores.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that a cardholder can’t be removed from a joint credit card account. So if a cardholder decides they no longer want or need to have a joint credit card—for whatever reason—they may only have a couple of options:

  • Pay off the balance and close the account.
  • Transfer the balance to a traditional credit card that has a single cardholder or primary cardholder.

Before opening a joint account, it’s always a good idea to review the joint credit card’s terms and conditions so that you’ll know your rights and responsibilities.

Joint Credit Cards vs. Co-Signers

One alternative to a joint credit card is having a co-signer. Co-signing for a credit card is different from being a joint cardholder.

Instead of becoming a cardholder on the account, a co-signer vouches for someone who’s applying for a credit card. The co-signer is telling the credit card company that if the cardholder can’t pay, the co-signer will.

Co-signing for a credit card is one way to help a loved one improve their chances of being approved—especially if they’re building or rebuilding their credit. A co-signer could also help the applicant get more favorable terms than they might on their own.

But there are also potential disadvantages to being a co-signer. If the responsibilities of the account fall to the co-signer and they can’t afford to pay, their credit score could be impacted. And taking on debt obligations as a co-signer can affect the co-signer’s ability to secure additional loans or credit of their own.

Joint Credit Cards vs. Authorized Users

Another alternative to a joint credit card is to add an authorized user.

Adding an authorized user to an existing credit card account gives another person access to that account. The authorized user gets their own card and can make purchases using the account’s line of credit. But unlike with a joint credit card, an authorized user isn’t responsible for the account. Authorized users also can’t make changes to the account, like increasing the credit limit or adding more authorized users.

Many, but not all, issuers report authorized users to the credit bureaus. So if the cardholder has good credit and uses their card responsibly, it could help the authorized user build their own credit history. And it can be a great way for the authorized user to learn how to manage a credit card. Issuers may even let cardholders set authorized user spending limits.

Keep in mind that the primary cardholder is ultimately the one who is responsible for the account. But negative information like late or missed payments could affect both the primary cardholder and the authorized user.

Adding an Authorized User to a Capital One Account


Some issuers offer joint credit cards or co-signers. But those options are becoming less common. So if you’re interested in sharing a credit card, consider adding an authorized user to a credit card you already have.

Adding an authorized user to your Capital One card can help you earn more rewards and keep track of spending all on one account. And there’s no additional cost to add an authorized user to your account. To get them set up, all you’ll need is the authorized user’s Social Security number and date of birth. Once they’re added, they’ll receive a card to start using right away.

Learn more about Capital One’s response to COVID-19 and resources available to customers. For information about COVID-19, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Government and private relief efforts vary by location and may have changed since this article was published. Consult a financial adviser or the relevant government agencies and private lenders for the most current information.

We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

What are joint credit cards?

A joint credit card allows two account owners to use the same credit account, enjoying the same rights to spend and update the account details, while sharing equal responsibility for repayment. Joint credit cards are not always available through banks or credit card companies, so be sure to do research on the joint credit cards available to you if you are interested in applying for one.

When you apply for a joint credit card, the card issuer will review the credit histories of all applicants to earn approval. This means that approval for the credit card will depend on the credit score of all potential account owners: so if one applicant has a low credit score, another applicant’s good credit score may not be enough to earn approval.

In some cases, however, an applicant with a lower credit score may be able to qualify for better credit card terms through a joint application, based on the higher credit score of her/his partner.

If all applicants are approved for a joint credit card, the usage of the credit card can be repaid by any of the account owners and the legal liability for repaying the account falls on all joint account owners (each account owner is 100% responsible for the entire debt). This shared responsibility means that a strong partner relationship is a must for joint credit cards.

The joint credit card’s payment history will be reported to credit bureaus and that history will appear in each owners’ credit report: meaning that both joint account users will have their individual credit scores affected by the use of their joint credit card.

Joint account users that pay monthly bills on-time and keep their credit utilization ratio low will most likely find that they can both build good credit scores, while joint account users that miss payments or use most of their available credit could see dips in both of their credit scores.

Regardless of which joint credit card owner spent money on the card or made any payments against the debt, both joint owners will see their credit score affected by the usage of the shared card.

Joint credit card vs. authorized user

Sharing a joint credit card is different from adding an authorized user to an existing account: an authorized user’s credit score is not evaluated for credit card approval, an authorized user is not legally responsible for repayment of the debt and an authorized user will not be granted any of the administrative functions of the account owner. Like joint account owners, authorized users can spend and make payments towards the account and most credit cards will report the card’s payment history to the authorized user’s credit report.

Build good credit with your joint credit card

All joint credit card account owners will see the payment history, credit usage, and age of the joint account factor into each of their personal credit histories and contribute to their individual credit scores:

  • Each on-time payment to the joint credit card could add a positive record to each account owner’s credit payment history.
  • Keeping the debt of the joint credit card low when compared to the credit card’s limit will reduce the credit utilization ratio, a factor that influences your credit score.
  • Finally, keeping a joint credit card active and open could increase the average age of your credit accounts, which could positively impact your credit score.

Given that those credit score factors may account to a significant amount of your credit score (check your credit reporting agency for information on the most current reporting model) keeping your joint credit card account in good status can help you improve your credit score with each month of positive payments.

On the flip side, any missed payments or overuse of your credit limit can push down your credit score in the same way.

With that in mind, it is important that you maintain a trusted and transparent relationship with your joint card holder, ensuring that you build a plan for both spending on the card and repaying the card on time. By establishing and meeting expectations, you can help each other build good credit scores.

Are there joint credit card credit scores?

Credit scores are always based on an individual’s credit history, so even joint card holders will have different credit scores based on the credit accounts that they don’t share. While the payment history for a joint credit card will separately be reported to both joint account owners’ credit reports, there are no credit agencies that provide a joint credit card credit score.

Joint credit cards help you build credit together

If you and a trusted family member or friend are comfortable sharing details of your credit card spending and promise to share responsibility for paying your debt, a joint credit card can help you both build good credit.

Applying for a joint credit card – when your partner has a higher credit score than you – can open up opportunities for better interest rates, higher credit limits, and more attractive rewards programs than your credit score can qualify for on its own.

By understanding how a joint credit card can help you to build credit, knowing how you and your partner will share your credit card expenses, and how joint credit cards can unlock attractive terms and rewards, you can approach a joint credit card application with the confidence that your credit score could grow with you.

What Is Joint Credit?

The term joint credit refers to any type of credit facility that is issued to two or more people based on their combined incomes, assets, and credit histories. The parties involved share everything about the debt including the credit limit and the responsibility to repay it back to the lender. Joint credit can be used when one individual has little to no credit or a bad credit report, and when two or more people need access to a large credit limit that they wouldn’t qualify for individually.

Understanding Joint Credit

Joint credit is any type of debt that is owned—and owed—by two or more people. Two or more individuals may consider applying for joint credit if they’re getting married or co-signing a mortgage. It is imperative to review all parties applying for joining credit. Combined financial planning will usually affect all parties’ credit scores.

Consumers can take out joint credit on any number of accounts including mortgages, loans, credit cards, and lines of credit (LOCs). In order to obtain joint credit, each party must submit their personal information on a credit application. These details include their names, addresses, dates of birth, income, Social Security numbers (SSNs), and any other pertinent information. Each individual must also sign the application. By signing the application, each party gives the creditor their authorization to conduct a credit check.

Having joint credit means each individual has equal access to the account. This means anyone can make changes to the account, whether that means lowering or increasing credit limits, changing mailing addresses, or adding additional users to the account. But it also means that each party shares the responsibility to pay back the debt. This can prove to be a problem if one person doesn’t live up to their responsibility or runs up a credit card bill without paying, so it’s always a good idea for each party to discuss the possibility of joint credit and set up boundaries before they actually apply for an account.

Despite the pitfalls are several reasons why joint credit is a good idea. By combining their resources, a couple may have access to a greater amount of credit than if they were to apply as individuals. This would allow them to make bigger purchases and fund them together. Joint credit also comes in handy when one person has no credit history or a low credit score. The joint account allows them access to a credit facility they wouldn’t normally be able to obtain.

Key Takeaways

  • Joint credit is a credit facility issued to two or more people based on their combined incomes, assets, and credit histories.
  • People with joint debt are equally responsible for the account including the credit limit and repayment.
  • Joint credit gives people access to greater credit limits and also helps those who wouldn’t qualify on their own.

Special Considerations

Joint credit can become an issue and a huge concern in divorce proceedings. While both may have contributed to the debts equally, their agreements may see one partner taking responsibility for certain debts, while the other ends up paying for the remaining debts. It is also possible that former partners may still affect one another’s credit, even if the two are divorced.

Closing a joint credit account can also be difficult, especially when there’s a balance outstanding. Even if a lender allows a credit card to be closed, the balance usually must still be paid under the original terms. One potential solution includes transferring a portion or all of the balance to a separate credit card.

Types of Joint Credit

Co-Borrowing

Co-borrowers are any other borrowers added to an account. Their names are also listed on the credit application and supporting documentation. As such, their personal information—credit history and income—is used as part of the application process and help the lender determine whether the parties qualify. When there are co-borrowers on an account, they all assume responsibility for the debt.

Co-Signing

As with a co-borrower, an additional party signs on to be responsible for 100% of the bill. But there’s one key difference—the co-signer doesn’t have access to the account. The co-signer may or may not have access to account information either. If the original signer makes a late payment or defaults on the loan or account, this negative history could be added to the co-signers existing credit history.

Joint Credit vs. Authorized Users

In contrast with a co-signer, an authorized user can use existing available credit on an account but has no financial liability to repay the debt. While the initial party has already filled out the application, obtained the credit, and is liable for repayment, an authorized user simply receives charging privileges.

While an authorized user is able to use a credit card, the original account holder is liable for repayment.

Adding authorized users to an existing credit card can help build credit, assuming timely payments are made. On the other hand, an authorized user can also ruin the original party’s credit score by racking up debt. Authorized users can get a boost in their own credit score if the original party regularly uses and makes timely payments on the account.

A co-signer boosts your chances of approval by letting you piggyback on someone else’s good credit — but many major credit card companies don’t allow them.

How to apply for a joint credit card

If you’re applying for your first credit card or trying to rebuild bad credit, adding a co-signer to your credit card application could improve your chances of getting approved. A co-signer is someone with good credit and income who guarantees that they will pay your credit card balance if you default.

There are two big caveats when it comes to co-signers, however:

Most major credit card issuers don’t allow for co-signers, even on student credit cards.

When an issuer allows for co-signers, you might have trouble finding someone to agree to co-sign. Being a co-signer means taking responsibility for someone else’s debts.

If you can’t get a co-signer, you have other options with bad credit or no credit, including becoming an authorized user or applying for a secured credit card.

Major credit card issuers’ co-signer policies

Among the largest credit card companies, only a few allow for co-signers. It may also be worth checking with local banks and credit unions where you live.

Must be 13 years old to be added as an authorized user.

Bank of America®

There is no minimum age required to be an authorized user.

Must be 13 years old to be added as an authorized user.

There is no minimum age required to be an authorized user.

There is no minimum age required to be an authorized user.

There is no minimum age required to be an authorized user.

Must be 15 years old to be added as an authorized user.

There is no minimum age required to be an authorized user.

There is no minimum age required to be an authorized user.

Co-signer vs. authorized user

Getting added as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account is generally easier than finding a card that will allow a co-signer. Many times, parents will add a child as an authorized user or one spouse will make the other an authorized user on an account. Authorized users get a card with their name on it, but the primary account-holder is the only one responsible for paying the bill.

If your main concern is simply having access to a credit card rather than improving your own credit, authorized user status can do the trick. Most major issuers report authorized user activity to all three credit bureaus, so becoming an authorized user can help with building credit, too. But that benefit only goes so far:

When you’re approved for a credit card with a co-signer, you and the co-signer are both legally responsible for the debt. Authorized users have no such responsibility, so the FICO credit-scoring model gives less weight to authorized-user accounts than to accounts in which you are the primary borrower or cardholder.

In general, the benefits from authorized user status are greater for people who have a thin credit history than for those who have bad credit because of past missteps. In thin-credit cases, authorized user status simply adds data where there was little to none before. With bad credit, authorized user status is weighed against damage already done.

What are joint credit cards?

A joint credit card allows two account owners to use the same credit account, enjoying the same rights to spend and update the account details, while sharing equal responsibility for repayment. Joint credit cards are not always available through banks or credit card companies, so be sure to do research on the joint credit cards available to you if you are interested in applying for one.

When you apply for a joint credit card, the card issuer will review the credit histories of all applicants to earn approval. This means that approval for the credit card will depend on the credit score of all potential account owners: so if one applicant has a low credit score, another applicant’s good credit score may not be enough to earn approval.

In some cases, however, an applicant with a lower credit score may be able to qualify for better credit card terms through a joint application, based on the higher credit score of her/his partner.

If all applicants are approved for a joint credit card, the usage of the credit card can be repaid by any of the account owners and the legal liability for repaying the account falls on all joint account owners (each account owner is 100% responsible for the entire debt). This shared responsibility means that a strong partner relationship is a must for joint credit cards.

The joint credit card’s payment history will be reported to credit bureaus and that history will appear in each owners’ credit report: meaning that both joint account users will have their individual credit scores affected by the use of their joint credit card.

Joint account users that pay monthly bills on-time and keep their credit utilization ratio low will most likely find that they can both build good credit scores, while joint account users that miss payments or use most of their available credit could see dips in both of their credit scores.

Regardless of which joint credit card owner spent money on the card or made any payments against the debt, both joint owners will see their credit score affected by the usage of the shared card.

Joint credit card vs. authorized user

Sharing a joint credit card is different from adding an authorized user to an existing account: an authorized user’s credit score is not evaluated for credit card approval, an authorized user is not legally responsible for repayment of the debt and an authorized user will not be granted any of the administrative functions of the account owner. Like joint account owners, authorized users can spend and make payments towards the account and most credit cards will report the card’s payment history to the authorized user’s credit report.

Build good credit with your joint credit card

All joint credit card account owners will see the payment history, credit usage, and age of the joint account factor into each of their personal credit histories and contribute to their individual credit scores:

  • Each on-time payment to the joint credit card could add a positive record to each account owner’s credit payment history.
  • Keeping the debt of the joint credit card low when compared to the credit card’s limit will reduce the credit utilization ratio, a factor that influences your credit score.
  • Finally, keeping a joint credit card active and open could increase the average age of your credit accounts, which could positively impact your credit score.

Given that those credit score factors may account to a significant amount of your credit score (check your credit reporting agency for information on the most current reporting model) keeping your joint credit card account in good status can help you improve your credit score with each month of positive payments.

On the flip side, any missed payments or overuse of your credit limit can push down your credit score in the same way.

With that in mind, it is important that you maintain a trusted and transparent relationship with your joint card holder, ensuring that you build a plan for both spending on the card and repaying the card on time. By establishing and meeting expectations, you can help each other build good credit scores.

Are there joint credit card credit scores?

Credit scores are always based on an individual’s credit history, so even joint card holders will have different credit scores based on the credit accounts that they don’t share. While the payment history for a joint credit card will separately be reported to both joint account owners’ credit reports, there are no credit agencies that provide a joint credit card credit score.

Joint credit cards help you build credit together

If you and a trusted family member or friend are comfortable sharing details of your credit card spending and promise to share responsibility for paying your debt, a joint credit card can help you both build good credit.

Applying for a joint credit card – when your partner has a higher credit score than you – can open up opportunities for better interest rates, higher credit limits, and more attractive rewards programs than your credit score can qualify for on its own.

By understanding how a joint credit card can help you to build credit, knowing how you and your partner will share your credit card expenses, and how joint credit cards can unlock attractive terms and rewards, you can approach a joint credit card application with the confidence that your credit score could grow with you.

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You can add someone as an authorized user, but understand your responsibilities

How to apply for a joint credit card

Summary

It’s possible to share the Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi just like you would a Costco membership. However, be mindful of the responsibilities as the brunt of the charges will fall on the primary account holder.

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Dear Cashing In,

Does the Costco Card by Citi allow for two people to be on the same account? My fiance and I are on the same Costco membership, but we are very interested in the credit card as well. We would each like to have our own credit card but keep it under the same account. Is this possible? Or do we have to have separate credit card accounts if we move forward? – Jordan

Dear Jordan,

How to apply for a joint credit card

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Your credit cards journey is officially underway.

Keep an eye on your inbox—we’ll be sending over your first message soon.

While it is possible to share an account, it’s best to be mindful of what that will entail.

Ask Tony a question.

Earning potential

The Costco Anywhere Visa excels as a card primarily used for gas purchases, but club members can find value in other rewards as well. And since Costco shoppers already pay for an annual membership, the card itself has no annual fee.

  • 4% back on eligible gas purchases, including gas at Costco (on up to $7,000 in charges per year, then 1% thereafter)
  • 3% back on restaurant and travel purchases
  • 2% back on Costco purchases
  • 1% back on everything else

Costco members justify the $60 annual membership fee by buying their necessities in bulk. And the rewards on the Costco Anywhere Visa are a nice extra. However, there is one caveat: You only get cash back once a year, as a certificate, in February. You must also redeem the certificate at Costco and it expires Dec. 31 of the same year.

Become an authorized user

It’s understandable that you and your fiance would want the ability to take advantage of the card’s rewards. And the simplicity of paying a single credit card bill each month could be beneficial.

It is possible for you both to have a credit card under a single account. One of you would need to be added as an authorized user at the time of application. You can also wait and do so after you have the card. If one of you has better credit than the other – and you’re worried about approval odds – it might be best that the person with the better credit apply.

To add someone as an authorized user after the fact, log in to your Citi credit card account online, select the “account management” tab, click “services” from the menu on the left side of your screen and you’ll see the option to add or manage authorized users on the account.

You’ll need to know the person’s full name, date of birth and Social Security number. You can also do this over the phone and you can cancel the authorized user’s card at any time.

Tip: You can build credit quickly by being added as an authorized user, but the benefits could vanish if you are removed from the account. Learn how removing an authorized user can affect their credit score.

Be mindful

Authorized users have their own cards issued in their names, but their charges go onto your account. As the primary account holder, you are responsible for any charges the authorized user makes.

In other words, if your fiance is the authorized user and goes overboard at Costco – and brings back a 70-inch TV and $1,000 worth of printer ink – and you can’t pay the bill, it’s your credit record that suffers.

For this reason, adding authorized users is sometimes not advisable – especially if you are adding someone who has not demonstrated responsible use of credit.

With this in mind, having both of you charging and earning cash back at Costco (and everywhere else) can be a smart way to ramp up your rewards. Good luck!