You can't get access to credit until you have an established credit history. You can get around this issue by using your husband's established credit history to your advantage. Many banks allow you to add a spouse or relative to an existing credit card account. Doing this may improve your credit score, but it's not a magic bullet solution.
Your husband can add you as an authorized signer on his existing credit card. You receive a credit card with your own name on it but the actual credit card account still belongs to your husband. Authorized users can freely access the account but normally the actual owner is the only person who is responsible for repaying the debt although depending on your state's laws, spouses may jointly own debts. The card will appear on your credit report but it won't have much of an impact on your score, since your husband is the one who is actually managing the debt. Being an authorized signer is a good way of building a credit history but it's not a great way to improve your credit score.
You can build your credit history and your score if your husband agrees to add you as a co-signer to his account. As such, you share the responsibility for repaying the debt. This means timely payments boost your credit score and late payments cause your score to drop. If you can't get a card in your own right, your husband's bank may allow you to apply jointly with him if his credit score is high enough to offset your low score.
Being added to your husband's credit card could actually hurt your score in the long run if your husband keeps high balances on his account. About 30 percent of your credit score depends on the amount that you owe on revolving accounts such as credit cards and lines of credit. Credit bureaus regard high balances as evidence that you're having trouble managing your money. The nearer your get to maxing out the card the more your credit score drops. You and your husband can keep your credit building goals on track by paying down the balance each month.
It can take months or years to establish a positive credit history, and being a co-signer or user on your husband's account can only take you so far. You can also raise your score by paying off other past due debts and by establishing accounts in your own name. If your low credit score prevents you from gaining access to unsecured loans or credit cards, ask your bank about a cash secured account. You use your savings as collateral for the debt but the payments are reported to the credit bureau just like any other type of debt.
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images