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How a spouse’s poor credit can spoil your plans

Most people fall in love and plan on getting married without ever asking for one another’s credit score. However, marrying an individual with a poor credit score or a history of bankruptcy or foreclosure can lead to some unexpected consequences such as not being able to qualify for a mortgage.

This weekend, USA TODAY featured an article making a little-known but important point about credit scores. The article said that as soon as a marriage begins, your spouse’s credit score can have a significant effect on your financial opportunities.

Although each spouse retains their individual credit score after a marriage begins, the scores become intertwined like many other parts of a couple’s life. That means even if one spouse has a good credit score, the other spouse’s poor credit score can stand in the way of qualifying for a mortgage or locking in a good interest rate.

When you apply for a mortgage, for example, the lender decides whether you qualify for a loan and how much that loan should be for based on your stable income amount and your credit history. Both spouses are often included on the loan application so that a larger income can be considered.

But the plan can backfire if one of the spouses has poor credit or went through bankruptcy or foreclosure at some point in the past. If one spouse has poor credit, the qualifying interest rate is going to be higher even if the other spouse has good credit.

Worse yet, lenders have required wait periods for consumers who have been through bankruptcy or foreclosure before they can qualify for a mortgage again, which can be several years.

Of course, it’s possible to qualify for a loan with only one spouse’s credit history being considered, but that would mean that only that spouse’s income could be considered.

Ultimately, credit restoration is a good idea for spouses who don’t want their poor credit to stand in the way of qualifying for a mortgage or a good interest rate with their new husband or wife.

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