Why I Waited to Get Married Before Making My Husband an Authorized User On My Credit Cards

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  • My husband and I dated for a long time before marriage.
  • We combined some aspects of our finances when we lived together.
  • I only added him as an authorized user on my credit card after we got married.

There are risks to naming someone as an authorized user.

My husband and I dated for several years before getting married, and we lived together for a short time before deciding to tie the knot and purchase a house as a couple. During our time of cohabitation, we combined some aspects of our finances such as opening a joint bank account. But I didn't make my husband an authorized user on my credit card until we had legally wed. 

There's a simple reason why that's the case. 

Here's why I didn't make my husband an authorized user any sooner 

Naming someone an authorized user on your credit cards means you give that person the legal authority to use your credit card to charge as much as they would like on it up to the policy limits. Anyone who is an authorized user has full rights to make purchases on the card and the primary cardholder cannot dispute the charges or disclaim responsibility for the card's balance. 

While an authorized user has the right to charge purchases on the card, they have absolutely no legal obligations. They could max out the card and walk away without paying a cent and the card issuer would not come after them to try to collect. Instead, sole responsibility for repayment would fall on the primary cardholder. 

Since my husband and I weren't married and didn't have any type of formal cohabitation contract or premarital agreement in place, giving my husband authorized user status would have meant he could use my card at will and I would be responsible for the charges. After marriage, things would be different because there would be rules for the division of property and debt in place under the law -- but that wasn't the case without a formal legal relationship.

Now, I trusted my husband completely when it came to our finances, or I wouldn't have married him. But at the same time, there are always situations where people end up surprising you because they don't live up to your expectations. While the chances of my husband charging up my card and walking away were so slim as to be non-existent, they weren't zero because they never are when you share your financial life with someone.

Since my husband already had great credit and had credit cards of his own, there was no reason for me to take the chance of letting him take on debt in my name when I'd have no legal recourse. There would have been no benefit to making him an authorized user at that time, so there was no reason to take even the tiny risk of giving him the authority to charge purchases on my card when he had no legal responsibility for them.

Why I made my husband an authorized user after marriage 

Once we got married, we combined more aspects of our financial life -- and there were now protections in place under our state's laws in case the unthinkable happened and we divorced. We wanted to be able to use a shared credit card for joint purchases and since joint credit cards with co-borrowers are rare, authorized user status was the easiest way to do that.

Now, my husband and I have many shared credit cards, as well as joint bank accounts and mortgages. I still completely trust him with our shared financial life. But I don't regret the decision not to take an unnecessary risk with my own credit and financial future until we had a legal commitment in place.

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