Future thinking should be shared. With that in mind our team publishes insights weekly to help keep you in the (k)now.


Hewison Private Wealth - Insights
Hewison Insights

Whose Credit Card is it?

Chris Morcom
Partner & Wealth Adviser
7 Feb 2023

Some more recent events have prompted this article about accessing credit card services, particularly later in life. 

Many couples have a credit card account that they share.  The most common arrangement is where one party of the couple obtains a credit card, and the other member of the couple is issued with a secondary card. 

This arrangement works fine for many, and certainly can assist with managing household and/or travel expenses.  However, problems can arise when the person who originally obtained the card dies. 

At this point in time, the card issuer (when notified of the person’s death) will cancel the credit card account…the account does not automatically pass onto the secondary card holder. 

To maintain a credit card, the surviving partner needs to apply for their own credit card account.  This may sound simple, but in practice can be quite difficult.  It will involve the applicant proving their income to ensure they can obtain the credit limit sought. 

For those who are retired, proving an income can be difficult.  Superannuation income streams can be lumpy or lower than the amount against which the card issuer is prepared to issue credit.  Those with investment income from various sources also can find providing evidence of their income difficult.   

Note that it is taxable income that is generally considered income by credit card issuers, and those over 60 and receiving a superannuation pension as their only income will not have any taxable income…irrespective of the size of their pension. 

If you are particularly keen to maintain a credit card arrangement into the future, then it may be worthwhile acting now to obtain your own credit account rather than relying on a card issued on your partner’s account. 

Alternatively, you could investigate the use of a debit card.  This would avoid the need to worry about credit at all, and still gives you access to the normal credit card arrangements but accesses money in your account rather than credit. 

While this issue may seem trivial and low priority, it can be actually be quite frustrating and often occurs at a time of emotional turmoil. 

As usual, planning ahead makes sense.