Should you get a joint credit card?

author image-sarah
By Sarah Watts
Updated on Friday 10 September 2021

A couple using their credit card online

If you’re thinking about having a joint credit card account by adding an additional card holder, you should familiarise yourself with the risks before deciding whether or not it is a good idea for you.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Can you have a joint credit card?

In the US, you can have a joint credit card, but not here in the UK; you can only add an additional card user to your existing credit card account.

Putting two names on a credit card in the UK doesn’t make a credit card account a joint account per se; there can only ever be one primary cardholder who is ultimately solely responsible for the credit card debt.

Adding another person as a co-user to your credit card will allow them access to your full borrowing limit and will give them the ability to share the repayments.

You might want to read: What to look for in a credit card

How do joint credit cards work?

  • You can add an additional card holder to your credit card account such as a long-term partner or a close relative, usually who lives with you, but you cannot open a joint credit card account.
  • An additional card user can use their card in exactly the same way as the primary card holder and help with repayments, although this is optional.
  • If you have a low credit rating that stops you from taking out your own credit card, being added to someone’s credit card account can be a great way of accessing credit.
  • Only the principal account holder is legally liable for any debts an additional user may accrue.

Can couples get a joint credit card?

Couples can’t get a joint credit card but a principal credit card account holder may add anyone they are in a relationship with as an additional card holder, whether they are a spouse, civil partner, cohabiting partner or a long-term partner.

In fact, you don’t even need to be in a couple to share a credit card - the account holder can add anyone they trust enough as an additional user such as a child, sibling, relative or a trusted friend.

Some, but not all, credit card account providers will require the additional user lives at the same address as the primary account holder.

Will a joint credit card damage my credit score?

A joint credit card can only damage the credit score of the main (primary) credit card holder if any payments are missed; it will not affect or damage the credit score of the additional card holder.

Likewise, if you have bad credit and are added to a credit card, this will not improve your credit score either.

Having a joint credit card in the UK does not create a financial association in the same way as a joint bank account or a joint loan and will not be recorded on your credit files.

You might like: What things affect your credit score?

Which providers offer joint credit cards?

No credit card providers offer joint credit cards and so no such thing as the “best joint credit cards” in the UK.

Most UK credit card providers allow the option of adding an additional cardholder to your account although some will require the additional user to be living at the same address as you.

The advantages and disadvantages of getting a joint credit card



Combined spending on just one card means less bills to manage

If your relationship with a joint card holder should end, having a joint card could cause issues and turn a bit messy

Someone with a low credit score who could not get a credit card can enjoy the benefit of using a credit card that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get

Only the main credit card account holder can be held legally responsible for repaying the debt, even if the debt was run up by the 2nd authorised card holder

Less likely to miss a payment or pay late when two people are managing one account

Could cause arguments if 2nd card holder spends irresponsibly/excessively and doesn’t help with repayments

Should I get a joint credit card?

If you live with someone you completely trust and you share a lot of expenses, then adding them as an additional user to your credit card account can be a good idea as it allows both of you to keep track of your joint spending.

Also, having a joint credit card with two people using it can be great if you have a rewards credit card where you get rewarded for spending.

You might also want to read: 7 reasons to get a credit card

Who can you share a joint credit card with?

Most credit card providers prefer an additional card holder to be registered as living at the same address of you, but there are some that do not have this requirement.

You can share your credit card account with a trusted partner, relative or friend who is aged 18 years or more.

An example of where a joint credit card could prove useful is if you have a child at university and want them to be able to use the card, as and when necessary or in the case of emergencies. Or perhaps you have a partner with bad credit who cannot get their own credit card as a result.

You might also be interested in: What happens to credit card debt when someone dies?

Adding an authorised user (what does it mean and is it the same as opening a joint credit card account?)

Adding an authorised user to your credit card account means that the authorised user is able to use a separate card to spend money without specific, individual or prior transaction authorisation by you.

An authorised user will not build their credit score or profile by being an additional credit card user and likewise the primary card holder’s credit score will not be damaged by an additional authorised user, unless they run up unmanageable debt of course!

This is because:

  • The primary [original] account holder is still held liable for any debt accrued on the card, whether by them or the authorised user.
  • Unlike a joint bank account or joint loan, nothing will be noted on either the primary card holder’s credit report or the authorised user’s credit report to show this financial arrangement.

You can only open a joint credit card account in the United States; this is not something that is offered to borrowers in the UK. Instead, in the UK you only have the option of adding an additional user to your credit card account.

However, you can open a joint bank account in the UK and similar to taking out a joint loan, where you are both equally and jointly responsible for the management of the account and payment of any debt accrued by either or both of you.

In addition, taking out a joint bank account with someone creates a financial association between you, whereas being an authorised user on a credit card doesn’t. The key thing here is that if one joint bank account owner has a great credit score and the other bad, a good credit score can be damaged by the financial association and the bad credit score improved.

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