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A joint credit card may be a good option in a number of scenarios. Maybe you want to simplify finances with your spouse, or perhaps you'd like to help your child improve their credit. If you have a joint credit card but no longer want it because circumstances have changed, you may want to remove your name from the account. Sounds easy, right?
Not necessarily. Unlike with an authorized-user credit card, where you can easily remove yourself from the primary user's account, you'll need to pay off and close a joint account if you no longer want the card. And because it's a joint account, both cardholders will need to agree to closing it.
How to Close a Joint Credit Card
Fortunately, it's fairly easy to close a joint credit card, as long as both parties agree to terminating the account. Here are the steps you'll need to follow.
- Pay off the balance. If you have a balance on your joint credit card, your card issuer will likely require you to pay it off before you close the account. If your issuer doesn't require this, you'll be on the hook for your minimum payments each month until the card is paid off. Continuing to pay off the balance could be challenging if you are closing the account due to a breakup or divorce, so try to come to an agreement with the other account holder to zero-out the balance before shutting the account.
- Consider a balance transfer card. If you're unable to pay the balance in full before closing the account, you could transfer the remaining amount to a balance transfer credit card in your name. These cards offer a low or 0% introductory interest rate for a set period of time, during which you can pay off the transferred amount. You'll be responsible for paying off the transferred balance, but if you're concerned the other party won't hold up their end of the deal, this move could help protect your credit. Ideally, try to come to an agreement with the other account holder to split the balance.
- Redeem rewards. If your joint credit card earns rewards, take a close look at your accumulated rewards. If you've earned cash back or points, redeem them before you close the account. You can split them in half with the other borrower or divide them in a different way.
- Call your credit card issuer. Once you pay off the balance and redeem rewards, call your credit card issuer to let them know you're closing your joint card account and make sure you're meeting all prerequisite terms.
- Confirm closure and monitor the request. The credit card issuer may send you an email or letter that asks you to confirm your request to close the account. Follow the instructions carefully so the account can be closed as quickly as possible. Check your credit report to make sure it no longer appears there.
Can Closing a Joint Credit Card Hurt Your Credit?
If you've got other credit card debt, closing a joint credit card can cause your credit scores to drop. Losing the available credit on the joint account will affect your credit utilization ratio, or the amount of credit you're using divided by the total amount available. A low utilization ratio helps credit scores, while ratios higher than 30% can hurt them. Credit utilization is the second most important factor in your FICO® Score* , behind only payment history.
Your credit score may eventually take a small hit if you've had the joint credit card for many years. The age of your accounts plays a role in your credit scores, with a longer credit history contributing to a better score. However, if you close the joint account in good standing, it will remain on your account for up to 10 years, so the effect will not be immediate and should be minimal if you maintain good credit habits otherwise.
The good news is that while both of your credit scores may drop initially after you close the card, they can return to what they were before, as long as you keep making timely payments and open your own credit accounts that bring up your limit.
Wrapping Things Up
In a perfect world, you'd be able to remove your name from a joint credit card and move on with your life. Since this isn't always possible, you'll likely have to close the account for good. Fortunately, you can do so in a relatively short time period, especially if you and the other borrower can agree on how to pay off the remaining balance.