Why every woman needs a credit history

Most women of my generation (Gen-X) and younger have at least a minimal credit history. Credit card companies love to extend credit to university and college students of both genders (start 'em young!).

You might be surprised, but I actually think this is a good thing. With a relatively small credit limit, students can learn the ropes of how to manage a revolving credit line, and prove to the banks that they are responsible with their money. (Yes, I know some don't learn the lesson and go overboard on spending - that's a topic for another day).

Unfortunately, there are still a sizeable number of older women (Boomers, for example), whose credit history is entirely intertwined with their male spouse. As recently as the 1970s, many banks would refuse to issue a credit card to a woman without her husband's signature.

Believe it or not, when I got married in 1996, and wanted to open a joint account with my husband, at first they only ran a credit check on him, and when they...

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