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For a couple, how important is it that each person has their own credit rating?

Q: My husband and I have been through some rocky times over the last couple of years but things are a lot better now. The one thing that still bothers me is that everything is in his name: our phone bill, credit cards, even my car loan. I'm the one who has paid the bills for 25 years and I think I should get credit for being so responsible with our money. He says it doesn't matter as long as the bills get paid. Who's right?

A: Having your own credit rating is important and necessary in today's world. Regardless of who pays the bills in your home, both people need to build and maintain their own credit identity.

Every person should have their own credit rating and credit score.The reality is that no one knows what the future may hold, so it's better to be prepared and not caught off guard when something unexpected happens.

Instead of getting into an argument about who's right or wrong, have a discussion with your husband about why it's important for each of you to have your own credit rating.

If you suddenly lost your spouse and found it necessary to move, it would be more difficult to get utility services or even rent an apartment without a good credit rating. There would be no record of your good money management skills.

And when a couple wants to borrow money jointly, the lender considers the strength of both credit ratings. If one has a blemish, the strength of the other record can still help make the loan happen.

If one person has no credit history, a lender could view that as a negative factor on the application.

Your husband may have somewhat traditional views about taking care of his family; however, knowing how his care could adversely affect you in the future may help him understand your desire to establish your own rating.

It's also easier than you may think to start building your own credit rating. Having one credit card with a low limit that you use for a few small purchases each month is enough to establish your own credit identity.

Having a good credit rating is like car insurance: you wouldn't drive a car without insurance, and you don't want to steer through life without a good credit rating.

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