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Newly Married With the Same Credit Cards – What to do?

Allow me to set the stage with the following scenario: You’re newly married, and your partner has the same credit card as you. You’ve just gone through the process of combining bank accounts and now you’ve turned to your credit cards. The card in question is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. A top of the line travel card earning 2x on travel and dining as well as carrying a $95 annual fee. You’re unsure what to do exactly, but you’re sure that you do not want to keep both cards.

Lets dive into solutions.

Option 1 – Cancel both cards – open new card with co-signer

Whats good about this is that you’ll end up with just one card. Also, the related credit history for that card will show up on both the husband and wife’s credit report. Whats bad about this is pretty much everything else. For starters, remember that your credit score is calculated using a few different factors. One of them is credit age, which is the average amount of time that all your accounts have been opened. Another is your credit utilization, which is your total credit in use, divided by your total available credit. When you cancel a credit card, you’re generally going to negatively affect both of these scoring mechanisms. Your average age is sure to go down, and unless you’re carrying a sizable balance on the card to be closed, your utilization can increase as well.

Both of you canceling your cards would almost certainly be the worst case scenario for your individual credit reports. While you’ll probably get a nice sign-up bonus with the new card, this scenario is really a non-starter because of the effect it could have on both of your credit reports.

Option 2 – Retention offer + cancel one card, add as authorized user

Option 2 is a little bit better. For starters, you should decide which one of you will be the least affected by the cancellation. That person should then pick up the phone and call Chase to ask for a retention offer. To do that you’ll generally want to say something like; “My annual fee is coming up and I don’t necessarily see the value in this card any more. Is there anything you can offer to help sweeten the pot?”. You may or may not be offered anything. If you are offered something you should decide if its worth keeping the card for one more year.

If you’re not given a retention offer then you should feel free to cancel the card and then have yourself added as an authorized user on your spouse’s card. At that time you can also go out and sign-up for a new credit card (if you so choose) and cash in on a nice sign-up bonus. Whats good about this option is that you’ll preserve one of your credit reports, and end up with one card that you can both use. The downside is that one of you has to cancel, and you’re only getting one product out of it.

Option 3 – Retention + downgrade, keep both

My favorite option by far. In this scenario the one who’s report would be affected the least calls and asks for retention. If nothing comes of it, you ask to be downgraded to either the Chase Freedom or the Chase Freedom Unlimited. In my opinion most people will be better off with the Unlimited but thats up to you. Then you both add the other person as an authorized user to your accounts. Now you’ve got the Preferred and the Freedom Unlimited! The best part is that when you’re ready to redeem, you can transfer the Unlimited points to the Preferred and enjoy the 25% travel bonus.

Of course, you could always choose to go with option 3 and still sign-up for a new card to get the bonus. Go crazy!

Verdict

My opinion is that option 3 is the best move here, as you’ll end up with a solid joint wallet that you can both benefit from. Neither of your credit scores will be adversely affect. Finally, you’ll be ridding yourself of the extra $95 annual fee.

Is there a 4th, 5th, or 6th option that I missed? What would you do differently? Let me know in the comments!

 

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