Can you have a joint credit card in Canada?

It is possible to have a joint credit card with your partner in Canada. There are a couple of scenarios to consider:

Primary cardholder with an authorized user: As a primary cardholder, you are responsible for paying for all purchases, even if you add an authorized user to the account. It is the primary cardholder’s responsibility to add or remove additional cardholders, however, the authorized user is linked to the account and can make/return purchases. The account will only impact the primary user and won’t help the authorized cardholder build credit.

Co-borrowers or co-applicants: If you want to co-sign for a credit card with another person, each individual will have access to the account and are equally responsible for any incurred debt. Financial institutions will need to review joint credit histories, scores and statements to make a proper assessment for the appropriate amount of credit extended. Once a determination is made and approved, the account is opened under both names.

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How to get a joint credit card in Canada

Signing up for a joint credit card is similar to applying for an individual credit card, however, there are a few more steps to determine the creditworthiness of both applicants.

Unlike applying for a personal and individual card which is often easily done online, it typically takes a phone call or visit to the branch. With personal information, identification and account statements, the institution will pull and review each individual’s credit history. Then, the assessment is made before an approval and credit limit is determined.

This is why many Canadians opt for an individual credit card with an authorized user, which can usually be done online.

Read More: Should you and your partner share a bank account? Find out the pros and cons of using a joint account

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Things to consider before getting a joint credit card

If you opt for a joint credit card, be aware that you are ultimately liable for your partner’s debt on the same account. If the balance suffers, it affects both credit scores, but conversely, it can improve if the balance is fully paid.

If the relationship falls apart, perhaps because of divorce or death, the account will need to be closed, which can impact your credit utilization and other factors that determine your credit score. You will also need to settle the remaining balances quickly before the account is fully closed.

Finally, you should be mindful that your partner can see all spending on the account, including your own. This can result in disagreement, so ensure that a common understanding and ground rules are set when using the card to make any purchases.

Read More: Interested in a BMO credit card? Check out the latest perks and promos offered to new accountholders for BMO cards

How common is it for couples to have separate bank accounts?

It is common for partners to share financial accounts and this could be the same reason why you might want a joint credit card account with your partner. You can easily streamline the number of accounts you have between the couple while building stronger credit together and promoting trust and financial honesty.

If you decide to share financial accounts, you must first determine how to pay off the debt on a shared credit card. You should set expectations on maintaining a healthy balance while fairly dividing payments. Oftentimes, a couple with a shared credit card will also have a shared chequing account from which monthly payments will be made.

Try a balance transfer card to get ahead of any debt you have

Balance transfer credit cards allow you to transfer and merge debts onto a new, low interest credit card to save money. They give you with a low interest rate or interest-free way to pay off your debt and re-start your financial life.

Canadian household credit card debt increased by 7.49% from June 2023 to December 2023, according to Statistics Canada. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are some balance transfer credit cards to try out and get ahead of any lingering debt.

MBNA True Line Mastercard: The MBNA True Line Mastercard typically offers low annual interest rate (of 12.99%), along with strong balance transfer promotions, such as 0% interest for the first 12 months on all balance transfers made within the first 90 days of opening an account. Sign up for the MBNA True Line Mastercard that charges no annual fee.

Scotiabank Value Visa Card: The Scotiabank Value Visa Card is another credit card with low interest rates for a low annual fee of $29. This card will frequently offer balance transfer promotions, such as 0% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 10 months (after that pay 12.99% annual interest). Throughout the year, this card will offer new client perks, such as waiving the annual fee in the first year. This might be a good card if you’re not 100% confident you can pay off your transferred balance within a few months. Sign up for the Scotiabank Value Visa Card today and get access to optional life, critical illness, hospitalization and disability insurance.

Bottom line

There are many reasons why Canadian couples enjoy sharing joint accounts, including credit cards. It streamlines shared finances and can help promote the other’s creditworthiness if their score isn’t too high.

Conversely, it can affect the partner negatively if spending goes awry, an unexpected accident occurs or a relationship deteriorates. Logistically, getting a joint credit card takes more paperwork and financial adjudication than an individual credit application. While there is no right answer, the aforementioned considerations will help you decide what’s right for your current financial situation.

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Winston Sih Journalism lecturer | Contributor

Winston Sih is a freelance multi-platform journalist and television host specializing in technology, digital media, travel, and personal finance. Sih works with a variety of clients as a media consultant, is a journalism lecturer at The Creative School at Toronto Metropolitan University, and media professor at Seneca Polytechnic.

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