How To Close a Joint Credit Card Account

Couple using their joint credit card to shop online.
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There are many reasons you may choose to sign up for a joint credit card. You and a spouse might want to use the credit card for joint expenses. You may decide to open one to help a child build their credit score. But what happens when you want to close that joint account, such as for a divorce, or because your child is ready to continue building credit on their own?

While opening a joint credit card is a simple process, closing one can be complicated, especially if there is an outstanding balance.

Key Takeaways

  • Closing a joint credit card account is not as easy as removing an authorized user.
  • Both parties on a joint account are responsible for paying off any outstanding balance.
  • Closing a joint credit card account should only have a small affect on a credit score, assuming any outstanding balance is paid in full and on time.

Closing a Joint Credit Card Account

Closing a joint credit card account can be difficult if the account still has a balance due. Some credit card issuers require the balance to be paid off before the account can be closed.

The first step to closing a joint account is to contact your credit card issuer. They will guide you through the steps needed to close the joint credit card account, including whether the balance must be paid off before it can be closed.

Even if your credit card issuer allows you to close the account with a balance, the balance will still have to be paid under the original terms. At least the minimum amount due must be paid each month.

Paying Off a Joint Credit Card Balance

With a joint credit card, both account holders are responsible for paying off the charges, even if only one person made them. This can become challenging if you are closing the card due to a breakup or divorce or because one of the account holders can no longer pay their part of the bill.


If you are closing a credit card and want to prevent paying interest on the account, you will have to pay off the remaining balance in a lump sum.

The two of you have to agree on who’s responsible for the balance. This could mean one of three things:

  • Both of you decide to be jointly responsible.
  • One person assumes all responsibility.
  • One person pays the bill in full with the understanding that the other will repay them in an agreed-upon time frame.


If you’re going through a divorce, talk to your attorney about the best way to handle a joint credit card account. Depending on state law, a judge may rule in favor of one spouse paying off joint credit card debt if it can proved they were solely responsible for the charges.

Joint Credit Accounts and Credit History

A joint credit card affects both account holders' credit histories. Any missed payments will have a negative effect on both cardholders' credit scores.

To protect your credit, you may have to make all the payments on the shared account if the other account holder is uncooperative.

Removing a Name From the Account

Unlike a credit card with an authorized user, you generally cannot simply remove one name from a joint credit card. Most issuers will require you to close the account.


An authorized user account is a sub account of the primary account. It allows authorized persons to make charges to the account. The owner of the card can call the credit card issuer to have authorized users removed.

Some banks and credit unions will allow the removal of a joint cardholder, similar to the process for an authorized user. However, usually the account cannot be changed until the balance is paid off and the card is closed.

Limiting the Damage

If your credit card issuer requires you to pay off the balance before you can close it, ask the credit card issuer to remove the ability to make new purchases. Once neither cardholder can make purchases that the other person has to pay for, you can be rid of the balance and any joint debt obligation much sooner.


Consider transferring the balance to another credit card in your own name ,so you can close the credit card without waiting for the balance to be paid off.

Once the card has a zero balance, contact the credit card issuer to confirm the account is closed for good. Be sure to ask that the account not be reopened at either party’s request. It's also a good idea to monitor your credit report to confirm the account is closed.

What Happens To Your Credit Score When You Close a Joint Account?

Closing a joint credit card won’t remove it from your credit report, but as long as the account is closed in good standing—the balance paid off with no late payments—closing it won’t affect your credit score significantly. Assuming you do not open another card to replace the one you close, your credit utilization ratio (the amount of available credit you have versus the amount you have used or spent) will be reduced. The number of card accounts will also shrink, and the overall age of your credit history may be affected. Generally these changes will only result in small changes to your score, and it should recover in time.

If there are any negative items associated with the account, they will fall off your credit report after seven years. In the meantime, keeping up with your payments and minimizing the amount of debt you take on will help protect your credit score.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I cancel a joint credit card during divorce?

Yes, cardholders may cancel or close a card account during a divorce. If there's a balance, you will have to pay it, either at account closing, or afterward, with regular monthly payments.

Does closing a joint credit card affect credit score?

Closing a joint credit card account responsibly, that is by either paying off the balance first or continuing to make on-time payments until the balance is cleared, will not affect your credit score significantly. Closing the account may reduce your utilization ratio (or the amount of your total available credit in use) and, if the card is one you've had for a while, your account age. Changes to those factors can have a moderate negative effect.

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