Co-signers

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF® | Reviewed by Editorial Team

Updated on December 27, 2022

Co-signers, are people who take responsibility for another person's debt.

Co-signing with another person can be a risky business when you have to pay if that person doesn't pay on time and sometimes it can be a rewarding experience because your friend might return the favor someday.  It requires trust and communication between all parties involved.

Co-signers should be treated as part of the family as they can financially help or damage you as a credit holder.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Co-signer

The following are the roles and responsibilities of a co-signer:

  1. Co-signers take responsibility for paying debts owed by another person.
  2. Co-signers should be aware of what they are getting into, that is, it's the co-signer's job to understand their responsibilities and limitations as a co-signer before signing off on loan applications.
  3. Co-signers should inform themselves about the loan application before signing it.
  4. Co-signers should keep in contact with the credit issuer by following up on the status of the loan, especially if they are unsure about how their co-signer is doing.
  5. Co-signers should never try to become the primary borrower unless the original borrower defaults on payments for a significant amount of time. Co-signers should always make this clear with credit issuers to avoid confusion and/or problems down the line.

Who Needs Co-signers? 

Any person who is to take on large amounts of debt may need a co-signer, for example, a married couple with one income going through school, people with no credit history, or someone with a bad credit history. 

Co-signers are often used in many different financial situations so that the person borrowing money may be able to get a lower interest rate, a larger loan, or even approved for a loan when they would not have been approved on their own.

Reasons to Need a Co-signer

There are many reasons why a person may need co-signers. 

  1. They may not have a good credit history.
  2. They may not have enough income to repay the loan on their own.
  3. The loan amount may be too large for them to repay on their own.
  4. The lender may require a co-signer if the borrower does not meet the requirements for other reasons, such as age or citizenship.

Benefits of Having a Co-signer

Having a co-signer on your loan can benefit the borrower in many ways: 

  • Co-signers often offer repayment plans that are much more flexible than those offered by a borrower without a co-signer.
  • Co-signers can help the borrower get a lower interest rate on their loan. 
  • Co-signing with someone shows the lender that the borrower is serious about repaying the debt and that they have someone who will help them if they cannot repay the debt on their own. 
  • Co-signing can also help the borrower get a larger loan. 
  • Co-signing can also help people with bad credit get loans who would not have been able to without co-signers or someone to co-sign their debt.
  • Co-signers can help build or re-establish credit for the main borrower.
  • Co-signers can act as a financial backup in case of an emergency.

Dangers of Being a Co-signer

There are also dangers in co-signing, some of these are:

  • If the borrower does not repay the loan, the co-signer is responsible for repaying the debt. 
  • The credit score of the co-signer can be affected if the borrower does not repay the loan. 
  • If the borrower files for bankruptcy, the co-signer's assets may be seized to repay the debt.

It is important that both parties understand and agree to the risks of co-signing before signing any documents.

Things to Consider Before Becoming a Co-signer

Before becoming a co-signer, it is important to consider the following:

  1. Are you able to repay the debt if the borrower does not?
  2. What are the potential consequences for you if the borrower does not repay the debt?
  3. How will being a co-signer affect your credit score?
  4. Can you afford to lose any money if the borrower defaults on the loan?
  5. Are you comfortable being responsible for the debt if the borrower does not repay it?

Key Takeaways

Co-signers are often used in many different financial situations so that the person borrowing money may be able to get a lower interest rate, a larger loan, or even approved for a loan when they would not have been approved on their own.

There are many reasons why a person may need co-signers. Co-signers often offer repayment plans that are much more flexible than those offered by a borrower without a co-signer.

Co-signers can help the borrower get a lower interest rate on their loan. 

Co-signing with someone shows the lender that the borrower is serious about repaying the debt and that they have someone who will help them if they cannot repay the debt on their own. It can also help the borrower get a larger loan.

If you decide to become a co-signer, it should be well-thought-of and both parties should understand the consequences of assuming the role.

What is a Co-signer?

A Co-signer is someone who agrees to be responsible for the debt if the borrower does not repay it.

Why would someone need a Co-signer?

There are many reasons why a person may need a Co-signer. Some reasons include: having a bad credit history, not having enough income to repay the loan on their own, or not being a U.S. citizen.

What are the benefits of having a Co-signer?

There are many benefits to having a Co-signer. Some include: getting a lower interest rate on the loan, getting approved for a loan when you would not have been approved without one, and getting a larger loan.

How does Co-signing affect your Credit Score?

Co-signing with someone shows the lender that they have someone who will help them if they cannot repay it alone. Co-signed debts are usually reported to the credit bureau, which can negatively affect your credit score.

What happens if the borrower does not repay the debt?

If the borrower does not repay the debt, the Co-signer is responsible for repaying it. This can lead to consequences such as wage garnishment, seizing of assets, and even legal action.

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

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