This Is the Biggest Challenge of Having a Joint Credit Card With My Spouse

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  • Having a shared credit card makes it easy for me and my spouse to track our joint spending.
  • It also makes it difficult to purchase items without the other person knowing.
  • This can make holiday gift-giving difficult.

It becomes problematic during certain times of the year.

When my husband and I made the decision to get married and combine our lives years ago, we also made the decision to combine our finances. That meant opening up a joint checking account, savings account, and credit card.

I happen to like sharing these accounts with my husband because it makes it easier for us to track our spending and savings. My husband and I realized long ago that we have similar financial goals, so there's no reason not to combine accounts and use our resources to work toward them. And to be clear, we do have ground rules about spending.

In a nutshell, we don't make any large purchases without consulting the other. And we each get a small amount of "me money" we're allowed to spend each month on stuff for ourselves, no questions asked.

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All told, this system works really well for us. But when it comes to that joint credit card, I tend to run into trouble from time to time.

Because we both have access to that account, it's impossible for one of us to make a purchase without the other being aware. And that makes buying gifts for my husband a tough thing to do.

It's all about buying stuff on the sly

My husband and I are both more into experiences than stuff. As such, I'm more likely to purchase something like concert tickets for him as a birthday gift than something like a shirt or gadget. But either way, buying him gifts can be difficult due to our credit card situation.

Now, there are a few different steps I take to get around that. One is to have my mom use her credit card to make those purchases for me and then reimburse her.

In the past, I've explained a $250 check to my mom as reimbursement for grocery items she picked up from a specialty store -- but that's the sort of excuse you can only use once. And so now, I generally just reimburse my mom after I've given my husband his gift, and that way, it doesn't ruin the surprise.

But either way, I do sometimes regret the decision to keep all of our accounts as joint ones -- not because it's a bad system, but because of all the complications surrounding gifts. And to be clear, my husband struggles in that regard just as much as I do. In fact, he probably struggles more so because he knows how vigilant I am about checking our credit card balance weekly.

A challenge we can work through

Unfortunately, I have many friends who argue with their spouses over money on a regular basis. And so while gifting can be a challenge given our credit card situation, in the grand scheme of money-related issues that can arise between spouses, this is a very good "problem" to have.

Ultimately, my husband and I will just have to continue being sneaky to buy each other gifts while retaining the element of surprise. And really, that's just fine.

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