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What is a Joint Credit Card Account?

Published October 24, 2022
3 min read

Key points about: Joint credit card accounts and alternative options

  1. A joint credit card account is shared between two people who both have access to the account and are responsible for the balance.

  2. Alternatives to a joint credit card account include opening an account with a co-signer or adding an authorized user to an account.

  3. Secured credit cards can help cardholders build credit independently.

Opening a joint account comes with risks to you and your creditor, which is why most creditors don’t offer joint credit card accounts. But there are alternatives. Here are some pros and cons of joint credit card accounts and other ways you may be able to approach sharing and building credit.

Joint accounts are different from individual accounts.

With a joint credit card account, two parties (from couples and business partners to friends and family members) have access to the account and are jointly responsible for the debt.

Pros and cons of joint credit card accounts


  • If cardholders make on-time payments and keep their balance low, joint credit card accounts may help build credit.
  • Getting a joint credit card could help the person with a lower credit score secure credit and terms they may not have otherwise.


  • Carrying a high balance can negatively impact each cardholder’s credit score, regardless of who did the spending.
  • Both cardholders are equally responsible for the debt of a joint credit card account. If one person runs up a considerable balance, the second is also accountable for the debt.
  • Disputes about paying the charges on the account can arise between cardholders. This can strain relationships and even lead to legal battles.
  • Creditors rarely offer joint credit card accounts due to the risk of loss in the face of cardholder disagreements over the balance.

Alternative ways to share a credit card account

Co-signing for a credit card

Did you know

While not many credit card issuers offer it, opening a credit card account with a co-signer is an alternative to having a joint credit card account and may help the primary cardholder build credit

Unlike joint credit card accounts, the co-signer doesn’t have access to the account but does agree to cover charges should the account holder default on payments. Most credit card companies won’t accept the risk of issuing an unsecured credit card to a borrower who needs a co-signer to qualify.

Adding a user to an existing credit card account

An authorized user agreement is another option worth exploring. In this type of agreement, a user is added to an existing account but is not responsible for the debt. Clear payment accountability makes this method of sharing an account more appealing to credit card issuers.

Authorized users receive their own cards and access to the primary cardholder’s credit. And if both parties use the credit responsibly, becoming an authorized user can be an excellent way to build credit. 

How can you build credit on your own?

If you want to do it alone, use a secured credit card. The Discover secured credit card can help you build credit with responsible use.1 Secured credit cards require a deposit, which acts as your credit limit. If you default on your payments, the deposit serves as collateral. And by creating smart habits, like making on-time payments, you could eventually qualify for an unsecured credit card, which may further strengthen your credit history.

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