Q&A: How to kick your ex off the credit cards

Dear Liz: My divorce was final in 2016. My ex and I divided our credit cards as part of the settlement. I have several joint credit cards with high credit limits and zero balances. I have used them once a year to keep them in active status. Do I consider canceling them or do I risk lowering my credit score if I do?

Answer: If these truly are joint credit cards, then your ex potentially could run up a balance and default, damaging your credit. Obviously, that’s not ideal. With joint cards, neither party can be removed by the other, so the best option may be shutting down the account.

But joint credit cards are increasingly rare. Most cards used by couples have a primary cardholder and an authorized user. The authorized user is not responsible for paying the bill and can be removed at any time.

Contact the issuers to find out your status on each card: Are you a joint account holder? Primary or authorized user?

If you’re the primary holder on a card and your ex is still an authorized user, ask that your ex be removed. If the account truly is joint or if you’re the authorized user, consider opening one or two cards in your own name before taking any further action.

Your credit scores may still take a hit when you close accounts or get removed as an authorized user, but the additional lines of credit may limit the damage and ensure you still have access to credit.

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