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My partner's credit card company is asking me to pay off their card. Can they do that?

Question
My partner's credit card company is asking me to pay off their card. Can they do that?
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Consumer Measures Committee
Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (CALC)
Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

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My partner's credit card company is asking me to pay off their card. Can they do that?
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Reviewed: 
March 24, 2017
Answer

If you co-sign a loan, a credit card, a mortgage, or other document for a debt, you are responsible for repaying them. This means that if you co-sign a loan or an application for a credit card, each person who signed is responsible for paying back the full amount of the debt. This is true if the co-signer is your partner, a family member, or a complete stranger. This is called a co-signed debt or joint debt.

For example, if you take out a loan for $100, you are each responsible for paying back the lender until the lender gets the full amount he is owed back. So, if your co-signer pays $20, you will have to pay $80; if they pay $75, you will pay $25. But if they pay nothing, you will have to pay $100.

If you are the guarantor for another person’s loans, you are responsible for paying back the whole amount only if the other person does not pay what they owe. For example, if they take out a loan for $100 but only pay back $20, you are responsible for paying the remaining $80.

If you co-sign a lease or mortgage, you are each responsible to pay the full amount owing. This is true even if you are not in a relationship with the other person on the lease, or live at different addresses.

This also means that the debt will be on your credit report. If the other person misses a payment or pays too slowly, this could hurt your credit score and make it lower. This can make it hard to get loans, mortgages, leases, or credit cards in the future.

Also, if another person gives you permission to use their credit card, you might have to pay all that is due, even if you did not sign the credit card application. This includes ‘companion cards’.

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