Throughout your life, you may have occasion to legally change your name. This might happen if you get married or divorced, want to change your name to better reflect your gender, or you simply don’t like your current name.
Depending on your state and the reason, the process of legally changing your name may differ. However, you should always change the name on your current credit card. Though it can be tempting to simply close out your current credit card and sign on for a new one, this is not best practice, and is simply not necessary.
In fact, having the wrong name on your credit card can negatively impact your credit score. To avoid this, you need to follow a few steps to get your name changed on your credit card.
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Obtain a New Social Security Card
The first step to changing your name on your credit card is to update all of your legal documents to your new name. This process starts with getting a new Social Security Card. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you must provide a legal document that proves your legal name change, such as:
- Marriage document
- Divorce decree
- Certificate of naturalization showing a new name
- Court order for a name change
In addition, you will need to prove your identity through a current, unexpired document, such as a driver’s licence, a state-issued ID, or a U.S. passport. If none of these documents are available, you might be able to use an employer or school ID, health insurance card, or U.S. Military card, as long as it has your name, picture, and other identifying information on it.
Lastly, you will need to prove your U.S. citizenship. Once you have all the documents in order, you can fill out the online Social Security Card application. Then, you will need to print it out and mail or take it to the Social Security office or Social Security Card Center along with the required documents. If you mail the applications, the documents you include with the application will be returned to you.
Visit Your Local Department of Transportation
The next step in legally changing your name is to get a new driver’s licence or state ID to reflect your name change. You can do so at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), but the process for this will vary slightly depending on which state you live in. Some states will allow you to change your name in person or by mail, while others require you to do so in person.
The documents to change the name on your driver’s license or state ID are similar to the ones you need to change it on your Social Security Card. In most states, you will need proof of identification, proof of name change, and proof of citizenship. Some states may require additional documentation, such as an official piece of mail — like a utility bill or bank statement — with your current name. Check your state’s DMV website to make sure you have the correct documents and to find out what the cost will be before you go in.
Change Your Bills to Your New Name
Changing your name on some documents, such as your state ID, may require proof by utility statements, bank account statements, or other mailed documents, so it is important to get your name changed on your bills early. While this part of the process may not be mandatory (depending on your state), it is an easy step that you can get done right away. Usually, you can update your name over the phone, but be prepared to show them the documented proof of your name change.
Update Your Bank Accounts
Once you have applied for a new Social Security Card and state ID, you can update your bank accounts. Though you should wait to get your credit card until after you have your new ID, you can update your debit card to make payments in the meantime. You can visit your bank’s website, call, or talk to them in person about the process, but you will likely only need documented proof of you name change.
Order a New Credit Card
Once you have your updated ID, it should be easy to request a new credit card. Again, it is important to wait until you have your new ID to change the name on your credit card, so that the name on your card matches the one on your ID.
Some issuers have an online or phone-based ordering system to do this; others will require you to visit a branch location in person to get your name changed and a new credit card issued. Once you’ve placed the order for your credit card with your updated name, you will likely receive it in 7-10 days.
Add as a New Authorized User
If you don’t have your own account but are an authorized user (or, if your spouse is), you’ll need to re-add them under the new name. Just as with your own account, your ID and credit card names must match. Once they match, you can move forward with re-adding yourself or them to the other’s account.
Knowing how to change your name on a credit card is important to know when making the decision to change your name. Though the process is simple, you do need to be thorough to make sure all steps are completed and are done in the right order. Once they are complete, you can start living your life as the new, legally-recognized you.
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