Now that my husband and I said our “I dos” several months ago, I keep being asked the same question: “How does it feel to be married?” “Um, the same,” I answer while wondering if possessing a valid marriage license in my drawer is supposed to change my life suddenly. My relationship certainly hasn’t changed, and neither did my feelings toward my now-husband.
As a woman entering a marriage, I had to make a choice: keep my last name or change it. For the sake of keeping the transition from the “single” checkbox to the “married” box on paper as seamless as possible, I’ve decided to keep my maiden name, at least for now.
Putting aside the patriarchal arguments for the moment, my reasons for keeping my last name are slightly unconventional. Sure, not having to change my byline is one of them, but keeping my travel habits as uncomplicated as possible is another. As a member of dozens of loyalty programs and a holder of multiple credit cards, changing my name is a hassle I’d like to avoid.
Changing a Name on a Credit Card Requires Hoop Jumping
To start the name-change process, you must take your marriage certificate to a Social Security Administration office, apply for a new card and wait for up to four weeks for it to arrive. With your new Social Security Card, you can receive a new driver’s license so that your new name can match your name at the bank.
Once you receive your new ID, you can visit your local bank branch (or a web page) and request a name change on your account as well as the credit cards associated with those accounts. Depending on the card issuer, you might have to bring your marriage certificate to a branch. Sounds like a lot of work for someone with about a dozen credit cards.
A lot of my credit cards are co-branded with airline and hotel loyalty programs, which means changing my name on the card requires changing it in the program as well.
Some Travel Rewards Programs Make It Difficult to Change Personal Information
Let’s use the United Airlines MileagePlus frequent-flyer program as an example. To legally change a name on an account, MileagePlus requires a copy of the marriage license, divorcee decree or another government-issued document proving that a legal name change has occurred.
After submitting a name-change request along with the supporting documentation, you have to wait for up to two weeks for the process to be completed. As someone who’s able to work and travel at the same time, I take trips every month or two and simply can’t afford to wait this long. Not to mention, the time it’d take for me to manually update all my accounts.
I’m a member of more than two dozen loyalty programs, and I’d rather not go through the process multiple times just to match my credit cards to my various frequent-flyer and hotel accounts. I prefer to spend my time planning my next trip.
About 75 percent of women in the United States change their last names, including those who choose to hyphenate their names, according to an Upshot data analysis from 2015. A woman’s marital status can change more than once per lifetime, and you’d think the process wouldn’t have to be so complicated just to change a name on a loyalty program.
Changing Your Name on a Passport Costs Money
If you qualify for a renewal by mail, your new passport will cost $110—the same as a regular renewal. However, if you’re not eligible to apply for a new passport by mail, you’ll have to pay first-time applicant fees, which are $160.
I renewed my U.S. passport in November of 2017 and technically could’ve received a free replacement by the time I was married. However, since I decided not to change my name, I’m keeping my passport until I fill it up with stamps. At that point, I’ll revisit the idea of taking my husband’s last name.
What kind of documents did you choose to renew after getting married and how long did it take?