Todd Ossenfort has been chief operating officer for Pioneer Credit Counseling since 1998. He writes our weekly “The Credit Guy” column, answering reader questions about credit counseling and debt issues.
Dear Credit Guy,
Can I transfer a credit card out of my name into my partner’s name? He uses the card more than I do, and it is his debt. – Donna
Your reason for wanting to do this is understandable, but unfortunately, credit cards don’t work that way. From your question, I think you must have added your partner to your card as an authorized user, since you say he uses it more and the debt is his.
Now, if you wanted to remove him as an authorized user, you could do that. But you cannot just call up your credit card company and tell them that now the card and the debt are his and remove yourself from the card.
Just as your reasons are understandable, so actually are your credit card company’s reasons for not allowing you to do this.
You opened your credit card account with your information – most importantly your income and your Social Security number, which was used to access your credit report and your credit score. This information is unique to you, so it was to you alone that the credit was extended.
There is no such thing as a combined credit score, even though it is true that both a primary account holder and an authorized user’s credit scores may be affected by the card’s usage. The card still belongs ultimately to the person in whose name the card was opened, and it is that person that your creditor looks to for payment.
Options to transfer debt
Just because you can’t transfer your own card to your partner’s name, however, I don’t want you to think you don’t have any options. You do have a few:
- The best one would be to transfer the debt to a card owned by your partner. This could be either an existing card or a new one.
- The very best thing would be if he can qualify for a 0-percent interest card that allows a balance transfer in the amount owed. This will involve a balance transfer fee, which is usually around 3 percent of the balance.
- Also, know that to qualify for these types of cards, your partner will need to have very good to excellent credit.
Reasons to keep the account open
Speaking of credit scores, if you close your account once it is paid off by a balance transfer your score will likely go down – at least temporarily. This is because you will lose the available credit on your card, which is one of the factors in credit scoring.
For this reason, you might want to leave the account open. If you do that, you should talk with your partner about removing him as an authorized user, since he will have his own card at that point.
If your partner is unable to get credit on his own, the two of you need to come to an agreement about how to pay off the debt. While I know this may be an uncomfortable conversation to have, it is important to come to an understanding now.
Take care of your credit!
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