Should you share a credit card with your partner or your kids?

Should you share a credit card with your partner or your kids?

Credit cards are pretty handy, and immensely versatile, however they also come with great risk. The innocent-looking piece of plastic sitting in your wallet is essentially a license to get yourself into enormous, nigh-unpayable debt.

Even if you’re financially disciplined enough to avoid running up huge credit card bills, the same can’t always be said for some of the other loved ones in your life – who may want (or already have!) access to your personal finances.

Sharing a credit card with your partner


It’s not uncommon for individuals entering into a new relationship to each bring their own finances with them, such as their own bank account, credit card and so on. While this allows each partner to maintain their financial independence, it also means each partner will be charged fees and interest separately, and be unable to effectively combine their buying power.

It’s often not until a relationship has had a chance to develop and mature a little that many couples make a major commitment. Not a commitment to marriage (though that often happens too), but a commitment to joint finances, such as shared bank accounts, credit cards, even home loans! Combining finances can help a couple to borrow or buy more together than they’d be able to individually afford. Plus, it means being charged interest just the once, and paying just the one set of fees.

The terms and conditions for different financial products vary, but when it comes to credit cards, there are two options available for couples – joint credit cards, and credit cards with the option of adding secondary cardholders.

Joint credit cards

  • Both partners have full access to credit
  • Both partners improve their credit rating
  • Both partners earn benefits and rewards
  • Both partners responsible for debt
  • Defaults impact both credit ratings
  • Fewer lenders offer joint credit cards


Joint credit cards are similar to joint bank accounts, in that there’s one credit limit, with each partner enjoying equal access to the account via their own card, and each sharing equal responsibility for its use. As well as being charged fees and interest just the once, both partners will enjoy the benefits of a joint credit card, such as improving their individual credit ratings and sharing in any bonus points or rewards offered by the lender.

When a couple applies for a joint credit card, their two credit ratings will be averaged together – if you have a bad credit history, but your partner has a good credit rating, your lender will assess your joint application as if you both had an average credit rating. While this can be good news for someone with a poor credit score, allowing them to borrow more than they’d normally be eligible to access, it can be less ideal for the partner with the higher credit score, as they could theoretically have been individually approved to borrow more money.

You and your partner should only ever apply for a joint credit card together if you trust each other implicitly. Because both partners are equally responsible for any debts on a joint credit card, if one or both of you spend up big or default on your repayments, both of your credit ratings will take a hit.

Primary and secondary cardholders

  • Both cardholders get access to credit
  • Less responsibility for 2nd cardholder
  • 1st cardholder gets benefits, improves CR
  • 1st cardholder responsible 2nd’s debt
  • Extra cardholders may cost fees
  • 2nd cardholder gets no benefits


Because of the added complexity and risk involved with joint credit cards, not every lender makes this option available to borrowers.  As an alternative, they often allow the primary holder of a credit card to add an additional secondary cardholder to an account, or perhaps even more. Depending on the lender, adding additional cardholders to your credit account could be free, or you may need to pay a fee per extra cardholder.

In this arrangement, the primary cardholder carries ultimate responsibility for the credit card account. The secondary cardholder, on the other hand, gain access to the credit card account via their own card, but ultimately bears no individual financial responsibility for the debt owing on the account. Even if the secondary cardholder goes on a spending spree, it’s officially the primary cardholder’s responsibility to see that the debt is paid, lest it leave a black mark on the primary cardholder’s credit history.

This may not sound like the best deal in the world, especially if it looks like you’ll be the primary cardholder in the relationship. However, as well as bearing the responsibility for the credit card’s debt, the primary cardholder also receives all of the benefits from holding the account, such as improving their credit rating by demonstrating that they can manage debt, and earning any bonus points or extra rewards offered by the lender. The secondary cardholder earns no additional benefits from their credit card, other than being able to use it normally.

Sharing a credit card with your kids


Your partner isn’t the only loved one in your life who could get access to your credit card – your children can as well. And we’re not referring to the various well-publicised instances of children inadvertently running up major debts by being a bit too liberal with in-app purchases and microtransations for online services linked to their parent’s credit card.

But did you know that it’s also possible to grant your child the same kind of access to your credit card as your partner? For many Australian lenders, the main qualification required to become a secondary cardholder on a credit card account is to be at least 16 years old.

While some parents may feel that giving their teenager practically unrestricted access to their credit card is a recipe for debt-fuelled disaster, it’s also possible that by showing your teen that a credit card isn’t an unlimited all-access pass to free money, you could help them learn more about financial responsibility in their young adulthood.

If you’re interested in offering your teen a degree of financial independence, but aren’t quite prepared to sign them up as a secondary cardholder on your credit card just yet, there are alternative options available:

  • Most bank accounts for teens offer access to a debit card, allowing teens to access money from their own bank account via ATMs, or make EFTPOS transactions in shops. Some lenders offer debit cards that also provide credit card functionality, such as VISA debit cards and Debit Mastercards. These cards can be used for online and overseas transactions, but are limited by the amount of money currently in the account, so your teen won’t go into debt.
  • Prepaid credit cards work in a similar fashion to gift cards from supermarkets and chain stores, in that they come pre-loaded with a balance of money, which can be spent anywhere that credit cards are accepted. Whenever the balance runs out on your teen’s prepaid credit card, they’ll have to come to you for a top-up, allowing you to have a say in how much they’re spending.

Did you find this helpful? Why not share this article?



Money Health Newsletter

Subscribe for news, tips and expert opinions to help you make smarter financial decisions

By submitting this form, you agree to the RateCity Privacy Policy, Terms of Use and Disclaimer.


Learn more about credit cards

How easy is it to get a credit card?

For most Australians, there are no great barriers to applying for and getting approved for a credit card. Here are some points that a lender will consider when assessing your credit card application.

Credit score: A bad credit score is not the be all and end all of your application, but it may stop you being approved for a higher credit limit. If your credit score is less than perfect, apply for the credit limit that you need, rather than the one you want.

Annual income: Most credit cards have minimum annual income requirements. Make sure you’re applying for a card where you meet the minimum.

Age & residency: You need to be at least 18 years old to apply for a credit card in Australia, and most require that you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident. However, there are some credit cards available to temporary residents.

What should you do if your credit card is compromised?

Credit card fraud is a serious problem. If your credit card is compromised and you’re wondering what to do, here are a few precautionary steps to take.

Contact you credit provider – Get in touch will your credit card provider. If you feel your card has been compromised, you should be able to lock or block it.

Monitor your accounts – Keep an eye on your credit card accounts. Any unauthorised transactions could be a sign your credit card has been compromised.

Check your credit rating – It’s also important to check your credit rating, to ensure you’re not a victim of identity theft or some other financial mischief.

How do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

How does ANZ increase my credit card limit?

If you’re the primary cardholder on an ANZ credit card, you can increase your credit limit by logging into your credit card account and choosing the “Increase your credit limit” option. You can also submit an ANZ credit card limit increase application form by visiting any ANZ branch or by mail or fax. When completing the form, it's important to remember to specify how much you want the limit increased. You can estimate this by first calculating the amount of credit card debt you can afford to repay based on your income and expenses, and then declaring that in your application. 

Irrespective of whether you’re completing your ANZ credit card limit increase application online or in print, you’ll need to provide updated employment information, income, and expenses, which the company will have to verify. You'll also need to authorise ANZ’s access to your credit history, as your current credit score and recent credit history tell the company about your financial responsibility, and whether or not you'll be able to repay the additional debt you’re applying for. 

In some cases, ANZ may ask you for additional information, or the agent processing the application may reach out to you after your application is received. After verifying your credit score as well as your personal and financial information, however, ANZ may approve a credit card limit increase proportionate to your repaying ability, though it may not be the same as the increase you requested.

Do you need a credit card to get a loan?

You do not need a credit card to get a loan, but you usually need to have a credit history. Without a credit history, a financial institution cannot assess your ‘credit worthiness’, or your capacity to pay off the loan.

If you don’t have a credit card, your credit history can reflect any record of paying off an asset. Without any credit credit history, you’re limited in the type of loans you can apply for. But you may be able to obtain a secured loan against an asset. For more information on improving your credit score, go here

Can a pensioner get a credit card?

It is possible to get a credit card as a pensioner. There are some factors to keep in mind, including:

  • Annual income. Look for credit cards with minimum annual income requirements you can meet. 
  • Annual fees. If high fees are a concern for you, opt for a card with a low or $0 annual fee. 
  • Interest rate. Make sure you won’t have any nasty surprises on your credit card bill. Compare cards with a low interest rates to minimise risk.

Can I transfer money from my American Express credit card to my bank account?

If you’re an American Express credit card customer, you may not be able to transfer money from your credit card to your bank account. However, you may be eligible for cash advances, which involves withdrawing money through an ATM. 

To qualify for a cash advance, you’ll likely have to enrol for American Express Membership Rewards. Consider checking your online credit card account to see if you can withdraw a cash advance and, if so, the fees and charges you’ll incur for this transaction. 

You should remember that cash advances are different from balance transfers, which were available with some American Express credit cards earlier. Balance transfers allow customers to consolidate debt from high-interest credit cards to a credit card offering a lower interest rate. If you only recently applied for an American Express credit card, balance transfers may not be available irrespective of the card you own. 

Does ING increase credit card limits?

You may want to increase your credit card limit for many reasons, such as having access to more spending money. However, if you are using the Orange One credit card issued by ING, you may not be able to do so. 

ING customers can choose a credit limit of their preference when applying for the Orange One credit card. Depending on your financial situation, this limit can be anywhere between $1,000 and $30,000. If you qualify for a Rewards Platinum card, the minimum credit card limit will likely be $6,000. 

Ideally, you should set your credit card limit knowing how much you can afford to repay each month and keep your expenses lower than this level. With most credit cards, you should have the option of requesting a credit card limit increase at a later time, although you will need to qualify for any increase. With an ING credit card, limit increases are out of the question (at the time this was published), which means you may want to apply for a higher credit card limit from the beginning. Remember that you have the option of decreasing your ING credit card limit at a later time.

What should you do when you lose your credit card?

Losing your credit card is a serious situation, and could land you in financial trouble. Here is a simple guide detailing what to do when you lose your credit card.

Lock you card – Contact your provider and inform them about your lost credit card. From here lock, block or cancel your card.

Keep track of transactions – Look out for unauthorised credit card transactions. Most banks protect against fraudulent transactions.

Address recurring charges – If your card is linked to recurring charges (gym membership, rent, utilities), contact those businesses.

Check credit rate – To ensure you’re not the victim of identity theft, check your credit rating a month or two after you lose your credit card.

How can I increase my Bankwest credit card limit?

When you apply for a Bankwest credit card, you get assigned a pre-set credit limit, which will end up being the most that you can spend on your credit card before having to pay it off. Your credit limit is chosen for you and your current financial situation, and you should remember not to overspend, irrespective of the limit, in order to avoid racking up a massive bill.

However, banks and lenders understand that your needs will change, and have made it possible for you to increase your credit card limit, allowing you to get extra cash when you need it most. Moreover, with a higher spending limit, you may be able to get access to certain perks and benefits with your Bankwest credit card.

To increase your Bankwest credit card limit, you can visit any of the bank’s branches or call 13 17 19 and follow the steps outlined.

How do you apply for a credit card?

You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at the bank. Once you’ve compared the current credit card offers, the application process is quick and easy. Before you get your application started, you’ll need to gather your personal information like proof of ID, payslips and bank statements, proof of employment and details of your income, assets and liabilities. To be eligible for a credit card, you’ll need to be an Australian citizen over 18 and earn a minimum of $15,000 each year. Once you’ve applied for a credit card, you should get a response fairly instantly. If your credit card application has been approved, you should receive a welcome pack with your new credit card within 10-15 days.

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.

Should I get a credit card?

Once you've compared credit card interest rates and deals and found the right card for you, the actual process of getting a credit card is quite straightforward. You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at a bank branch. 

What should I do if my ANZ credit card has expired?

Your ANZ credit card is considered expired only after the last day of the month and year marked on your card. For instance, if your card’s expiry date reads 03/22, it is valid until 31 March 2022 and expires on 1 April 2022. Typically, you should have received a new credit card by that date, and you won’t have to request a new card. 

Once you get the new card, you should remember to switch any automatic payments you have - such as a utility or mobile phone bill - from your expired credit card to your new credit card. Equally, if you are using CardPay Direct to repay your ANZ credit card debt, you may need to update the credit card account details for that service as well. 

In case the new card doesn’t arrive by the expiry date of your current credit card, you can call ANZ on 13 22 73 to find out the reason and if you need to request an expedited card. Please note that if you were planning to close your credit card account or request a credit card upgrade, you may need to call ANZ at least before the 25th of the month your current credit card expires in, as that’s when they may send you the new credit card.