If you make more than $75,000 a year, chances are you’re peeking into your partner’s credit report. But if you make less than $30,000, you’re just as likely, apparently.
Turns out that 24 percent of both higher-earning and lower-earning Americans are likely to snoop on the credit report of someone they share an account with, according to CreditCards.com. Those who make between $30,000 and $75,000 are only 14 percent likely.
And that’s not the only strange stat. Twenty percent of Americans — or 17 million of them — admit to spying on their partner’s spending; whether it’s a spouse, parent, or child. Roughly 86 million Americans share a credit card with another person, and almost half of those are among spouses.
“Sharing a credit card account is an intimate situation, for better or for worse,” the study says. “Two people trust one another to spend responsibly, lest their future borrowing power suffer damage that’s hard to repair. Whether it’s a net positive or a negative depends entirely on the situation, the nature of the relationship and the people involved.”
There’s also good reason to watch your accounts closely these days — fraud.
Credit card sharing is caring
Credit card sharing is most common among couples — 48 percent of those that have joint accounts — and this isn’t surprising. Finances are a huge part of marriage, whether the couple are spenders or savers.
“Sharing a credit card can either be a bonding experience or a one-way ticket to couples’ counseling, depending on how the account is used and managed,” the study says. “Card sharing can allow the thrifty partner to take charge of the couple’s finances. But that sense of control must be treated carefully. Constantly checking up on a spouse or partner’s spending can make the other person feel uncomfortable.”
If you’ve experienced tension in your relationship because of spending, it’s important to talk these issues out with your partner. Constant communication about finances — what you’re saving for, what you’re spending it on, how to eliminate overspending, etc. — is vital to a successful union.
Here are some things you should know about sharing credit cards with others:
1. Joint account holders are equally responsible for payments. It doesn’t matter who charged to the account, because whoever is on the account is responsible for the payments. If one side doesn’t foot the bill, the other side will be punished for it.
2. Think twice before sharing with a nonfamily member. 4 percent of joint accounts were among people not related to them. If you’re unsure of the person’s credit history, spending history, or overall finances, it’s probably a good idea to stay away.
3. Divorce decrees are not binding on creditors. Just because you’re legally separated from each other does not mean you are legally separated from creditors. Card issuers can go after either party on the account and everyone is equally responsible, regardless of the relationship they once had.
4. “Authorized user” is the way to go, especially with kids. This gives the primary cardholder some options on limiting the spending of whoever they add. An authorized user means they don’t have the same level of responsibility as the primary cardholder, and with limits, the primary person can hold others accountable, and even cancel the card if being abused by another user.
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