My girlfriend and I are currently restructuring our finances to simplify our financial relationship and to discourage frivolous spending habits such as eating out.
We have shared access to a joint checking account, where we each contribute the same amount every month to pay for shared expenses such as rent, utilities, and groceries.
We are looking to get a credit card for that account for several reasons:
- Financial reconciliation will be much easier: we know how much we contribute to the joint checking account each month, we know what we both pay in fixed expenses (ex: rent), and the remainder would be used to pay off the credit card.
- We don't trust debit cards for online transactions
- The extra credit could come in handy in case of an emergency
- It will discourage us from moral hazard. For example, if we choose to eat out, the meal could cost $40. Usually we agree to split the costs, but that has the effect where the person who pays only feels like they're paying $20, so it's no big deal, and the person who isn't paying doesn't perceive the transaction having come from their wallet, so both of us feel like we spent less and have more money than we do. With a joint credit card, it will be easier to separate groceries from takeout, and give us a more accurate financial picture for both of us.
Here's the problem: while my credit is excellent (mid 700s), hers is not so great (low-to-mid 600s). We are both financially responsible and neither one of us has trouble paying the bills. Her current debt primarily comes from when she was between jobs as a college student - long before we met - and does not reflect her spending patterns today.
We want to be able to get two cards (related: is it difficult to ask the credit card issuer for two cards, even if the account belongs to one person?) with the best credit limits and perks.
Would it be better for me to apply for the card on my own, or would there be an advantage to having her co-sign?