Liz Weston: Yes, spousal debt could lower your credit scores

Dear Liz: My spouse and I added each other as authorized users on our credit cards. My spouse has more debt than me. Does this impact my credit scores?

Answer: Maybe. Credit scoring formulas examine the amount of available credit used on each account. If your spouse has higher balances than you, but also higher credit limits, your credit scores may not be affected much, if at all. If, on the other hand, your spouse is using most of their available credit, your scores could suffer.

Most services that provide credit scores (possibly including your bank and credit cards) usually offer explanations of why your scores aren’t higher. If the explanations include something about excessive credit usage, you might want to consider removing yourself as an authorized user of the problematic cards.

Dear Liz: Now that interest rates on savings accounts have started to rise, I have a little advice for you: check the rate you are getting on your accounts! I found out that my online bank changed its account structure a few years ago and old high yield savings account holders were not benefiting from the recent increases. I was only earning a paltry 0.3%, while people who had opened accounts more recently were earning over 2%. I’m sure many customers like me assumed they had high yield accounts, since that’s what they originally opened, but they actually don’t get competitive rates.

Answer: Thanks for the warning. People who have certificates of deposit should also check to see if these CDs have expired. Some banks renew CDs at competitive rates, while others funnel the proceeds into a low-rate account. A little vigilance can help you get a much better rate of return.

Liz Weston, Certified Financial Planner, is a personal finance columnist for Nerd Wallet. Questions can be sent to him at 3940 Laurel Canyon, No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604, or by using the “Contact” form at asklizweston.com.