Money may not buy you love but romance can certainly play havoc with your finances, as almost a fifth of Brits (17%) have seen theirs and their partner’s credit ratings negatively impacted by their relationship.
Research from Experian, the global information services company, has found that one in eight (12%) people say they have been impacted by a current or former partners’ bad credit rating, while a further 5% have admitted that they have had a negative impact on their partners’ credit worthiness.
Yet the Experian CreditExpert research found that only 3% of people have ever filed a note of financial disassociation – a credit divorce in effect, which lets lenders know that a couple should no longer be seen as ‘a couple’.
With a quarter (24%) of people not knowing what financial disassociation is, this suggests many in the UK may still be financially linked to others without even being aware of it.
When you share financial associations such as a joint account or a mortgage, your credit reports become linked which can mean that when you apply for credit, lenders will see not only your credit report, but also the financial links to others.
Therefore your credit worthiness could be based on not only on how well you have managed your finances over the last six years, but also how well your partner or ex-partner has managed theirs.
A fifth of those impacted by financial associations believe that they found it more difficult to get a mortgage a result of partners or ex partner’s poor credit rating and furthermore, that when they were successful in securing a mortgage, that they were charged a more expensive interest rate as a result.
22% stated that they have been unable to get a loan for the same reason and nearly a quarter (24%) found getting a credit card more difficult or expensive.
Peter Turner, Managing Director at Experian Consumer Services, UK & Ireland, commented: “Talking about finances can be an uncomfortable subject for many but setting up joint finances can be one of the biggest commitments you can make in a relationship. Few of us will have a perfect history of managing our finances but by addressing your financial circumstances and your credit history upfront together, at the very least you could save any nasty surprises further down the road such as being turned down for credit you really need.
“For those whose relationships sadly end, it’s important to ensure any joint finances are also separated to regain financial independence. If the mortgage is the only remaining joint debt with your ex-partner and you’ve lived apart from more than six months, you can still ask us to break the link between your credit reports. The effect of this will be to stop any information about your ex affecting your credit rating in the future which can be a big step in moving forward.”
Experian CreditExpert has the following advice for those considering joint finances:
1. I do…do I?
The first step in setting up joint finances is deciding if they are the right choice for you and your partner. To better understand the impact joint accounts could have on your future credit worthiness, you will need to review your own credit report to get a complete overview of your own credit history.
2. Take your time…
Take the time to review both your credit reports, ensure everything is accurate and up-to-date and if you dispute any information, contact Experian to raise a dispute who will work to resolve it with the lender in question. Tell us which entry is inaccurate, and what’s wrong with it. You can either do this by email, post or using our online query forms. All Experian’s contact details can be found here: http://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/contact-us/index.html.
3. What’s your score?
Your Experian Credit Score is a guide that will help you understand how your credit history is likely to be viewed by lenders and will also help you both understand if one partners credit history needs a little work before any joint credit applications, such as a joint mortgage.
4. A helping hand…
If you have a less than perfect credit history, the Experian customer service team will help you identity ways in which you can improve your Experian credit score and the picture your credit report paints of your financial situation. Making little changes to improve your credit report can make a big difference, not only getting in getting credit but also to the interest rates you could be charged.
5. Full disclosure
If your financial situation changes, make sure you keep your partner informed before it becomes an issue. If one or both have had trouble managing your finances and debts are a real struggle, get free, confidential advice from organisations such as Citizens Advice, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service or National Debtline.