Jeff Asks About Trick To Boast Credit Score. “Will It Work?”

“Dear Steve,

I have never heard anyone ask this question or any money experts suggest it: If my wife and I have many joint user credit cards and lots of debt, could it help our credit scores if we changed the status of our joint cards to just the primary user, thus showing each of us is responsible for about half the debt we our now on the books together with? We pay on time but the biggest drag on both our scores is the amount of debt we owe. What do you think? Coulld it backfire and show we are taken off a long held card? Does anyone really know what would happen?


Dear Jeff,

Well if you could do that it possibly might help but I doubt it. Depending on your level of individual debt and individual income your debt to income ratio could get all out of wack. But the biggest issue here, and why this is an interesting mental exercise, but not a practical one is that your creditors are not going to let you do this.

If a creditor has two people jointly liable for a card, they are not going to let one go. Hooks in two is better than hooks in one. You could possibly get your wife removed but you would have to have the card at a $0 balance and the creditor would probably re-qualify you for the card, potentially lowering limits and raising interest rates.

You might be better off applying for a new credit card in your sole names and then doing a balance transfer to the new card. While that accomplishes the goal of dividing the debt, it also hurts you since you will now have more lines of credit out there for use and if you close the old cards, and you’ve had them for a long time, that would lower your credit score.

Thanks for the really interesting question.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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