How to Close a Joint Credit Card Account
There are many reasons you may choose to sign up for a joint credit card. You and a spouse might want to use the credit card for joint expenses. You may decide to open one to help a child build their credit score.
While opening a joint credit card is relatively simple, closing it can be more complicated, especially if you have an outstanding balance. Learn how to close a joint credit account without damaging your credit.
Closing a Joint Credit Card With a Balance
Closing a joint credit card account can be difficult if the account still has a balance due. Some credit card issuers require the balance to be paid off before the account can be closed.
Even if your credit card issuer allows you to close the account with a balance, the balance will still have to be paid under the original terms. At least the minimum amount due must be paid each month.
The first step to closing a joint account is to contact your credit card issuer. They will tell you the steps you need to take to close the account and whether the balance must be paid off before it can be closed. That will let you know how to proceed.
Paying Off a Joint Credit Card Balance
For a joint credit card, both account holders are responsible for paying for the charges, even if only one person made them. This can become difficult if you are closing the card due to a breakup or because one of the accounts holders can no longer pay their portion of the bill.
If you are closing a credit card, it is best to pay off the remaining balance in a lump sum so that you don't continue to pay interest on the account.
The two of you have to agree on who’s responsible for the balance. This could mean that:
- You are jointly responsible
- One person is responsible
- One person pays the bill now with the understanding that the other will repay them in time.
If you can’t reach an agreement, you may have to get mediation or decide in court. Keep in mind that, while the court may order one of you to pay the balance, the credit card issuer will still hold both of you responsible and will pursue both of you for any unpaid balance.
If you’re going through a divorce, talk to your attorney about the best way to handle a joint credit card account. A judge may rule in favor of one spouse paying off joint credit card debt if you can prove they were the one who made the charges.
Joint Credit and Credit History
A joint credit card affects both people’s credit history. Any missed payments will result in a lowering of both credit scores.
If the other account holder is uncooperative, you may end up making all the payments even if you weren’t the one who created the balance. This may be the only way to protect your credit score.
However, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover the amount you paid on the balance.
Removing a Name From the Account
Unlike a credit card with an authorized user, you generally cannot remove one name from a joint credit card.
An authorized user account is under the name of one person and allows other, authorized persons, to make charges onto the account. The owner of the card can call the credit card issuer to have authorized users removed.
Joint accounts base the allowable charging balance or the account itself on the credit history of both applying parties. Changing who is holding the card changes these terms.
Some banks may have policies that allow you to remove a cardholder. Usually, however, once you opened a joint credit card together, the account cannot be changed until the balance is paid off and the card is closed.
Limiting the Damage
If your credit card issuer requires you to pay off the balance before you can close it, ask the credit card issuer to remove the ability to make new purchases. Once neither cardholder can make purchases that the other person has to pay for, you can be rid of the balance and any joint debt obligation much sooner.
Consider transferring the balance to another credit card in your own name so you can close the credit card without waiting for the balance to be paid off.
Once the card has a zero balance, contact the credit card issuer to have the card closed for good. Be sure to ask that the account not be reopened at either party’s request. Monitor your credit report to confirm the account is closed.
What Happens to Your Credit Score
Closing a joint credit card won’t remove it from your credit report, but as long as the account is closed in good standing—the balance paid off with no late payments—it won’t damage your credit score.
If there are any negative items associated with the account, they will fall off your credit report after seven years. In the meantime, keeping up with your payments and minimizing the amount of debt you take on will help protect your credit score.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Am I Responsible for Charges on a Joint Credit Card Account if I Didn’t Make Them?" Accessed Oct. 23, 2020.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Do Joint Credit Card Accounts With My Spouse Affect My Credit Score?" Accessed Oct. 23, 2020.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "How Do I Remove an Authorized User From My Credit Card Account?" Accessed Oct. 23, 2020.