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Some people have found a better alternative that would accomplish the same things. It's to get a credit card in their own name but then add their spouse or child as an "authorized user."
Authorized users have the same benefits of being able to make purchases using the account but aren’t legally responsible for them. They are also not allowed to redeem rewards. This could help you, the cardholder, bulk up your rewards much faster than you would be able to do on your own.
How the authorized user handles the card will be reported to the credit bureaus so if they use it responsibly her or his credit should get a boost. Here’s a fun video from CreditKarma that explains how this works.
Unfortunately, there are two big negatives to putting an authorized user on your credit card. First, there is no way to control the other person's spending. You might receive your monthly statement only to find your authorized user has charged up thousands of dollars worth of things. You'd be stuck because you're the one that’s responsible for repaying the debt. A second negative is that some credit cards do not separate your charges from those of your authorized user. If your goal is to keep track of his or her purchases you would need to get a card where you could see which purchases were made by you and which were made by your authorized user. Many banks, including Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America won’t itemize the charges made by an authorized user. However, American Express, Discover, Barclaycard and U.S. Bank will. So if you're contemplating getting a new card where you would add your wife or child as an authorized user you should get your card from one of these four.
The bottom line here is that there are some benefits to getting a joint credit card account. However, you can accomplish most of them by simply adding an authorized user to your single-owner credit card account. If you do choose to get a joint account make sure you do understand the risks and that the both of you agree as to how the account will be handled in case the relationship doesn't last. This falls in the same category as talking about your will. It's not the most pleasant of conversations but it's important that you have it before you do hit one of those worst-case scenarios. Also, think about that joint credit card versus just adding an authorized user to your card. This could help you achieve your objectives but without the risks associated with a joint card. Like with a joint credit card you need to be careful who you add as an authorized user and how much he or she can be trusted to use the card wisely. Otherwise, you might end up facing a financial calamity.