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Removing yourself from shared card account may be tough

If you're a joint card holder -- not an authorized user -- you're likely out of luck

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Credit Care
'Credit Care' columnist Kim McGrigg
Kim McGrigg is Community Manager for Money Management International, where she provides personal finance education information to consumers.

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Question for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear Credit Care,
How do you take your name off of a credit card if you are the second cardholder so it will not reflect on your credit scores or credit at all? The first cardholder was approved for $500 and then he was sent an application. We filled it out, but we were not married then. Now it's on my credit. I never used the card, and he's going bonkers because I cut the card up. I WANT OUT! Help me, please. -- Sonia

Answer for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear Sonia,
My advice depends on how your name was added to the credit card agreement when the application was filled out and returned. You may have signed the application as a joint account holder or you may have been added as an authorized user. To find out for sure what your status is on the account, you'll need to contact the card issuer.

As a joint account holder, the card issuer will not allow your name to be removed from the account because you signed as a financial responsible party. You can, however, close the account and keep the other cardholder from adding any other charges to the account. And if nonpayment of the account is an issue, I would close the account as soon as possible.

I'm not certain why you want out, but my guess is that the other cardholder is not managing the account well, causing your credit to suffer as a result. To protect your credit from getting worse than it already is, I suggest that you try to catch up the payments that have been missed as quickly as possible. For example, if no payment has been made on the account for two months, you would need to make a payment or payments of at least the minimum payment due for three months, plus any late fees and over-the-limit fees to bring the account current. Doing so will prevent any new negative listings for this account from appearing on your credit report. Any past-due notations regarding the account will not be removed from your credit report, but paying what is past due on the account will stop any new negative reporting from appearing on your report and will keep the account out of collection. A collection account would be an additional negative on your credit report that you will want to avoid if possible.

As an authorized user, you would in no way be financially responsible for any unpaid balance on the credit card account. You can have your name removed as an authorized user by calling the card issuer and making the request. Should you be told when you call the card issuer that the cardholder has to make the request to have an authorized user removed from the account, ask to speak to a supervisor. Because you are not a financially responsible party, the card issuer should not have a problem removing your name from the account. See "How to remove an authorized user from a credit account" for details, including the removal policies of the major card issuers.

Once you are no longer an authorized user on the account, the bureau should stop reporting new information associated with that account. Previous information about the account may or may not remain on your report, however, since issuers' and credit bureaus' policies vary on how old information is handled once you're no longer associated with the account. Some bureaus may remove all mention of the account from your credit report, while others will leave old data on and just stop reporting new info to it. For more information on their policies, you'll need to contact your card issuer and the credit bureaus.

Whatever their policy, give the card issuer at least 30 days to update the account with the credit bureaus and then check your credit reports. You can get free copies of your reports once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. If the account is still listed on any of your reports when it shouldn't be, dispute the item with the credit bureau that has it listed. You can file disputes online at the credit bureau websites.

Setting common goals is imperative to your financial success as a couple. If you feel that financial problems are damaging your personal relationships, please seek professional help. Far too many marriages are damaged, or even destroyed, by financial issues.

Handle your credit with care!

See related: How to get your real free credit reports, 10 things you must know about credit reports

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Published: October 3, 2011


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Updated: 12-09-2016


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