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Secret Credit Card Common Among Couples

[Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016]

Couples are keeping secrets from each other, according to a recent survey—and one of the biggest ones is how much they’re spending on their credit cards.

Forty-one percent of respondents said they’ve spent more than $100 without their partner knowing about it, and a report estimates that 13 million people have either a hidden bank account or a secret credit card. The survey asked people with a live-in partner, a spouse, or a significant other about their financial behavior with regard to their relationship.

Nineteen percent of those surveyed said they’ve spent more than $500 without telling their partner, with men being almost twice as likely as women to have spent that amount behind their loved one’s back.

Some people don’t mind the wool being pulled over their eyes

Perhaps the more surprising finding was that folks don’t seem to have a problem with this secret-keeping behavior. Twenty-four percent of people think that it’s okay for their spouse or partner to spend even more than $500 without giving them a heads-up. A larger percentage—47%—said that it was okay to spend more than $100 on the sly, but not more than $500.

The generational divide over secret keeping

When broken down according to age, middle-aged folks (between ages 30 and 64) were more likely to spend small amounts of money without notifying their partner. Millennials—people under 30—and seniors were less likely to spend more than $25 without telling their partner.

There was another demographic difference in the answers, as well. Middle-class people were more okay with their partners spending over $500 in secret, while lower and upper middle class folks thought spending that much money warranted a discussion. And geographically speaking, folks in the Northeast were more likely to have spent $500 without letting their partner know.

Advisors warn against secret keeping

Financial experts and relationship experts both say that it’s healthier for couples to tell each other about what they’re spending. Keeping secrets, they said, isn’t a good idea. It can lead to misunderstandings, communication breakdown, and even financial problems that mushroom out of control.

It’s a good idea for folks to tell each other about their bank accounts, credit cards, and spending habits, say the experts. Having an open discussion about these things is the healthiest way to go. When in doubt, tell your partner.

The survey was conducted by telephone and included responses from 1,000 adults in the United States.

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