Changing the name on your credit cards is no big deal, but because each credit card issuer has a different process for making the name change, it can take some time. Plus, the whole name change process in general can be somewhat lengthy. For instance, you probably won’t be allowed to change the name on your credit cards until you can produce a government-issued photo ID with your new legal name on it. That usually means you also need to visit the Social Security Administration to update that card first.
Credit card issuers often have different policies in place to initiate a name change on your credit card accounts. To start, you will likely have to fill out some type of name change authorization form and provide legal documentation, such as a marriage license. Beyond that, you will need to check with each card issuer to find out exactly what they need from you.
However, before you get to that point, you will first need to get a new Social Security card and government-issued ID. It can also be useful to first change your name on some of your utilities or bank statements (as that can be simpler to do) for additional documentation of your name change. Utilities will often make the change over the phone or online; your bank will probably want to see your marriage certificate or some other legal document first.
Reasons to change the name on a credit card
The most common reasons to change your name on your credit cards or identification are marriage and divorce. Alternatively, you might be going through a gender transition and want your credit cards to reflect your true identity. In truth, however, you can petition the courts to legally change your name for almost any reason — for example, maybe you simply think John Wayne is a better movie star name than Marion Morrison.
Whatever your individual reason for legally changing your name, as long as you have a court order approving the change, you can call yourself pretty much whatever you want and put that name on your legal documents and credit cards.
You’re probably eager to change the name on your credit cards as soon as possible, but one step at a time. As mentioned above, you’ll first need to put in a name change request for your most important legal identification — specifically, your Social Security card and your driver’s license (or other government-issued ID you use most often).
How to change your name on your Social Security card
Your Social Security number will remain the same regardless of your name, but you will need to get a new Social Security card issued with your updated name on it. You can start the process online by gathering information about the required documents and downloading the necessary forms, but you will have to visit your local Social Security office to complete the process.
At a minimum, you will need to provide proof of identity and an original or certified copy (read: no photocopies) of a court order showing your legal name change. That could include your divorce decree, proof of marriage, or other legal verification of a name change. In some cases, you may also need to show proof of citizenship (U.S. passport or birth certificate) or lawful noncitizen status.
How to change name on Social Security card
- Download, print, and fill out the necessary forms. (optional)
- Visit your local Social Security office.
- Show proof of identity and any other required documents.
- Wait for your new Social Security card to arrive in the mail (typically within 7–10 business days).
How to change your name on your driver’s license
After you’ve updated your Social Security card, you will need to make that always-fun trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to get a new driver’s license (or other government-issued ID if you don’t drive, e.g., a state ID). You will likely need that new license before you can change your name on your credit cards.
Requirements to change your license vary from state to state. Sometimes you may need only a marriage certificate and your old license, but other states may require further documentation to process your request. Here are some of the necessary documents you may be asked to provide:
- updated Social Security card
- birth certificate
- your current driver’s license
- marriage certificate, divorce decree with name-change provision, or other court order showing your legal name change
- additional documents to prove your legal address, such as utilities, bank statements, or other bills
How to change name on driver’s license
- Research your state’s requirements.
- Bring the necessary documents to your local DMV.
- Complete the name change application and surrender your old license.
- Wait for your new license to arrive in the mail (the DMV will issue you a temporary license to use in the meantime).
How to change your name on your credit card accounts
Now we get to the part you’re really interested in: “how to change the name on your credit cards.”
Unfortunately, there is no single approach to changing your name on every credit card account in one fell swoop. As mentioned previously, each credit card issuer has its own policies on how to process a name change request. For example, some may accept digital scans of your documentation and allow you to complete the process through your online account, whereas other credit card issuers will require you to show up at a branch office in person to initiate the change.
To begin, you will need to contact each credit card company individually to find out their specific requirements. Oftentimes, this information can be found on the credit card issuer’s website, even if you can’t actually make the change there.
If you have multiple credit cards, the whole process could take some time, but there’s no need to rush. We would advise starting with the primary card (or cards) that you normally use and going from there.
After contacting your credit card issuers, assemble the necessary paperwork for each one, then present or file it according to each company’s requirements. Once they’ve processed the required documents, you should receive your new card in the mail within a few weeks at most.
How to change name on credit card
- Contact your credit card company (or check their website for name change requirements).
- Assemble the necessary paperwork.
- Present or file your documents according to the issuer’s requirements.
- Wait for the credit card company to process your documents.
- Receive your new credit card with your updated name in the mail.
Do I also need to change my name on my credit report?
Good news! Your credit report is one place where you won’t have to jump through any hoops to get your name changed. This is because when you change the name on your Social Security card, the Social Security Administration will automatically notify the credit bureaus of your name change.
This could take a month or so, but it should happen without you having to do anything. You can order a free copy of your credit report once a year — which is always a good idea anyway — and double-check that your new name has been updated. While you’re at it, for your own financial protection, make sure all the information on your credit report is accurate and up to date.
Does changing the name on my credit report affect my credit?
The mere act of making a name change — due to marriage, divorce, or any other reason — has no effect on your credit rating. Even if you’re married, you retain your own credit report and credit rating, and your spouse retains theirs as well. Just because two people join lives doesn’t mean their credit reports merge as well.
The only way marriage can alter your credit report is if you take joint financial actions, like opening a joint bank account, getting a credit card in both your names, or taking out a mortgage or car loan together. Basically, any financial institutions in which your name is linked with your spouse’s will be on both your credit reports.
Where else should I change my name?
While it’s most important to get your legal documents and your financial accounts in order, it’s a good idea to notify others of your name change too, if only to save yourself from potential hassles down the line. In many of these cases, you can make the change online or with a quick phone call. At most, you will probably only have to show legal proof of name change and identification in the following instances:
- your employer
- the U.S. Postal Service
- utility companies
- insurance companies
- doctor’s offices
- department store cards
- gym memberships
- streaming services
- library card
Does the name on a credit card matter?
Oftentimes, the name on your credit card doesn’t necessarily matter, even if you’ve legally changed your name. If you’ve ever borrowed a card from a friend or family member to make a purchase, you know that merchants rarely check identification anymore.
And if you order anything online, as long as the credit card details and billing address are correct, it probably won’t matter that you’ve legally changed your name, either. However, it’s still a good idea to have the correct name on your credit cards to avoid running into any issues. It just makes sense to have the same name on all of your legal documents and credit cards.
Do I need to change the name on my passport?
If you have any plans for international travel — and you’re using a new name — you should get your name changed on your passport as soon as possible. The name printed on your plane ticket needs to match the one on your government-issued photo ID, be it your driver’s license or your passport.
Technically, you could get away with not changing the name on your passport as long as you book your ticket under the same name. However, depending on the type of travel and any additional documentation that might be required, it may be best to have everything in your legal name.
Do I have to change my name on my credit cards after marriage?
Not necessarily. For one thing, if you decide to keep your maiden name after marriage, there is no need to change anything at all. In fact, many women choose to keep their maiden names even after marriage for a variety of reasons — one of which may be to avoid the hassle of changing every legal document they possess.
The only drawback to this approach is occasionally having to explain that yes, you are married, but no, you didn’t change your name. This may be a small price to pay, but that’s for you to decide.
- Changing your name on your credit cards isn’t a difficult process, but each credit card issuer has different requirements for completing the process.
- You will likely need to change the name on your Social Security card and update your driver’s license before you can get your credit cards changed.
- Typically, you have to visit your local Social Security office and the DMV to change those documents — they can’t be updated online.
- You will not need to update your name with the major credit bureaus — the Social Security Administration will do that for you automatically.
- Don’t forget to update your less formal accounts with your new identification, such as streaming services, department store cards, and gym memberships.