My Husband and I Made This Promise to Each Other Before Opening a Joint Credit Card

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  • Many years ago, my husband and I opened a joint credit card, but before we did, we discussed how our card would be handled.
  • We made a simple promise to each other that we've stuck to.
  • We decided that we'd never carry a balance larger than the balance of money available in our checking account. 

If you're thinking of opening a joint credit card, you need to make sure you're on the same page.

Many years ago, when my husband and I got married, we decided that we wanted a joint credit card. We thought it would be easier to handle shared household expenses if we both had the same credit account to use and had just one monthly bill to pay for it. 

Before we signed up for a card we'd both be responsible for, though, we had a lot of conversations about how we would handle it. And, we ended up making one very important promise to each other for how to manage the credit card. 

My husband and I committed to this rule when signing up for a joint account

The promise that my husband and I made to each other before we opened our joint credit card was a simple one. We vowed we would never allow our credit card balance to grow to a larger amount than the money available in our bank account at the time

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We made this vow because we did not want to commit future income to repayment of debt that we were incurring today. We didn't want to take a chance of not earning that income for some reason, and then having a credit card bill we could not pay off in full.

This promise was an important one for us to make because neither my husband nor I was comfortable with the idea of carrying a credit card balance and paying the high financing charges that card issuers impose.

We want to use a credit card so we can earn rewards with it and track our spending, but we don't want to make all of our purchases costlier by paying interest. And we definitely didn't want to put ourselves in a situation where so much of our future income was already committed to making credit card payments that we wouldn't be able to live within our means in the future. 

Sticking to the rule has helped us avoid debt -- and money fights

My husband and I opened our joint credit card over a decade ago, and neither one of us has ever broken that promise -- even when we've faced unexpected expenses. We've always found a way to keep our credit card balance below the available income we had to pay it off, even if that meant stopping certain types of spending temporarily until we were able to earn more money. 

Having that accountability to each other, and that shared goal, has enabled us to stay free of costly credit card debt so we've been able to accomplish other important financial goals. And since we have this iron-clad commitment, we avoid money fights about whether we can or should charge purchases or how we're going to pay the bills. We know that we can't break our rule and the money will be there for us to pay the balance due.

Now, this promise may not work for everyone. But if you and a partner are opening a joint credit card and are serious about avoiding debt, it may just be a promise you want to make as well. 

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