If you have a credit card account, you may be able to have a second card on the account for your husband, wife or partner. It’s sometimes called a ‘secondary’ card. If you have a second account, it’s the person who has the credit card account who’s still responsible for paying the bill. Make sure you know how it works.
One account, two cards
If you have a credit card account and you want to add your partner to it, it’s relatively straightforward to do.
- You’ll normally either have to ring the credit card provider or download and fill in a form online.
- Having two cards on one account is useful because it means you can spend money on joint purchases (holidays, household items etc) and keep track of joint spending easily.
Who pays the bill?
- If you’re the principal card holder: you’re responsible for money that’s spent on the card by you and your partner. That means you’re the person who originally signed the credit card agreement.
- If you’re the secondary card holder: you’re able to spend money on the card but you’re not responsible for paying the bills.
Consumer protection and secondary cardholders
Credit cards give you good consumer protection if you buy something costing between £100 and £30,000 under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. You can find out more about how it works in my article that explains Understanding your credit card rights under section 75). If you are the secondary cardholder, you may be able to claim using this legislation.
Here are the golden rules:
1. The person who has the account in their name must claim against the credit card company, if they want a refund under Section 75.
2. They will be able to claim for purchases made by the second card holder, if the purchases were for both of them. Some cards may let them claim for purchases that were purely for the second card holder’s use – but the Financial Ombudsman Service takes the view that you can only claim for purchases made for BOTH account holders, if they were made by the second card holder.
If you want to add a second card holder to your account, there shouldn’t be any further credit checks.
- If you’ve got a bad credit record and you don’t qualify for a credit card in your own right, your partner can add you as a secondary card holder and no checks will be made on your credit history.
- The flip side is that if you’ve got a good credit record and you want to give a card to your partner whose record is less than perfect, your credit details won’t be linked to theirs on the basis of a second card, because they won’t have to sign a credit agreement.
Account problems if you split up
Having two cards from one account works well if you’re both quite responsible with money, but if one of you decides to go on a spending spree, there could be serious consequences.
- If you’re the principal account holder and your partner decides to max out the card, you’ll be the one left with the bill.
- If you’re the secondary card holder and your relationship breaks up, your partner can easily block your card (without telling you).
SAVVY TIP: Make sure you sort out the ground rules of your credit card account if you’re getting a second card — and preferably before the first bill arrives! Is it to be used for joint purchases only, such as holidays or things for your home, or are you happy if you both the account for your personal spending as well?
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