Q&A: A spouse’s debt, your credit score

Dear Liz: My spouse and I have added each other as authorized users on our credit cards. My spouse has more debt than I do. Does this impact my credit scores?

Answer: Possibly. Credit scoring formulas look at how much available credit is being used on each account. If your spouse has higher balances than you but also higher credit limits, your credit scores may not be harmed much, if at all. If, on the other hand, your spouse is using most of their available credit, your scores could suffer.

Most services that provide credit scores (including possibly your bank and your credit cards) typically offer some explanations about why your scores aren’t higher. If the explanations include anything about excessive credit utilization, you may want to consider getting yourself removed as an authorized user from the problematic cards.

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