Research and Statistics

80 percent of spouses lie about spending


Secret spenders have hidden credit cards, bank accounts and debts.

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of card offers; and please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

Nearly 20 percent of spouses have a secret credit card, according to survey results by CESI Debt Solutions, a nonprofit debt management company.

The majority of those spouses who carry a secret credit card don’t tell their spouse about the card either to avoid an argument or because they want to pay it down before the big reveal.

In one fashion or another, 80 percent of spouses hide purchases, credit cards and bank accounts, according to the CESI Debt Solutions survey of more than 200 consumers to test their “financial infidelity.”

Some of the secret spending is so serious that 38 percent of married couples surveyed stated in a press release that they were “concerned the revelation of their secret spending would result in their spouse seeking divorce or separation if he or she were to find out.”

Survey respondents who indicated they had been spending money without their partner’s knowledge typically purchased:

  • Clothing and accessories: 34.5 percent ofrespondents.
  • Food and dining: 24 percent.
  • Beauty and personal care items: 19.5 percent.
  • Gifts: 16.5.
  • Alcohol: 13 percent.

Some of the least prevalent items to hide were antiques, dating website subscriptions and illegal drugs.

Also, according to the survey, 59 percent of consumers did not know their spouse’s credit score, and only 30.5 percent of all respondents checked their credit reports once a year.

While credit reports are gauged individually, and one spouse’s credit score cannot directly affect the other’s, if considering a joint purchase such as a house or car, knowing your spouse’s credit score can help determine how good an interest rate you’ll get.

See related:  Don’t say ‘I do’ to bad credit, When family members use ‘secret’ credit cards, How to cope when spouse’s secret debts come to light


What’s up next?

In Research and Statistics

Back-to-school spending priorities clash for parents, kids

Parents may be opening their wallets more while back-to-school shopping, but teens aren’t happy with what they are buying.

Published: August 6, 2010

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: September 18th, 2019
Cash Back

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company’s business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.