Newlyweds: Joint credit or not?

A reader asked me whether or not her credit score would be impacted if she married someone with a very low credit score. She had excellent credit. I told her it depends upon whether or not she took out joint credit and bank accounts. Once you take joint accounts as a husband and wife, your credit scores do tend to meld.

If you're planning to get married and you have an excellent credit score and your fiance does not, you may want to keep your finances separate for awhile. You can each have your own savings account and open a joint checking account for paying the household bills. Determine in advance how much you each will contribute to the joint account each month, so you don't end up with fights later about someone not contributing enough.

If you're thinking of buying a house, the person with the excellent credit score is the one who should put in the application. Don't put your spouse or fiance as a co-borrower if they have a low credit score or you will end up with much higher interest rate. This could mean that you'll need to buy in a smaller house until your spouse or fiance gets his credit score up, but at least you won't ruin your own credit score or pay outrageous mortgage interest rates.