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Credit Card Authorized User: Everything You Need to Know

Does being an authorized user affect your credit?
Being an authorized user on a credit card can affect your credit score positively if the primary cardholder practices good credit habits. If the primary cardholder falls behind on payments or maxes out the card, it can hurt both of your credit scores.

When building and establishing credit, we all have to start somewhere. But when you begin your credit journey, getting your foot in the door can be an uphill battle. Luckily, becoming an authorized user on a credit card can help you start building credit without being preapproved.

Becoming an authorized user can improve your credit score and potentially hurt it. You’ll want to be added to an account in good standing with a record of on-time payments. Before becoming an authorized user, understand the basics, risks, and expectations.

What is an authorized user for credit cards?

An authorized user on a credit card refers to a person who is added to someone else’s credit card account. The person who owns the credit account is called the primary cardholder. When you become an authorized user, you receive a credit card connected to the primary cardholder’s line of credit without applying for your own credit card.

As an authorized user, you can use the primary cardholder’s credit card and piggyback off their credit card activity.

How being an authorized user works

If you become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card, the issuer will send you a card with your name on it. As an authorized user, you can make purchases on the primary cardholder’s account, but the responsibility of paying off balances rests with the primary cardholder.

Authorized users can use the card, but they can’t make any changes to the account, like increasing the credit limitPayments and changes are the responsibility of the primary cardholder.

Anyone can be an authorized user on a credit card as long as they meet the card issuer’s age requirements. For instance, the primary cardholder can add their child, spouse, partner, or friend as an authorized user. Some issuers may charge a fee for adding an authorized user.

How does being an authorized user affect your credit score?

Becoming an authorized user on a credit card could be a relatively quick way to start building credit for those with poor credit or no credit history. It can also be a convenient way for families and members of the same household to simplify and co-manage finances.

It’s not necessary to use a credit card to improve an authorized user’s credit score. Even if you never use the card, the card activity can positively impact your credit if the card issuer reports authorized users to the three credit bureaus. However, if your authorized user status doesn’t show up on your credit reports, it won’t help your score.

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Will adding someone as an authorized user help their credit?

Does an authorized user build credit? It’s possible and can be one of the main perks.

An authorized user’s credit score can improve if the primary cardholder pays bills on time and uses the card responsibly.

Can being an authorized user hurt your credit?

It’s essential that the primary account holder is responsible, makes on-time payments, and has a low credit utilization (the amount of the credit limit in use). Any negative account information can also damage an authorized user’s credit score.

If the primary cardholder falls behind on payments or maxes out the card, it can hurt both of your credit scores. Only become an authorized user on a credit card if you and the account holder are on the same page and committed to practicing healthy financial habits.

Pros and cons of being an authorized credit card user

Before agreeing to become an authorized user on a credit card, make sure to think about the advantages and disadvantages of doing so:

ProsCons
You can improve your credit score through a history of on-time payments and responsible borrowing.Being an authorized user could harm your credit score if the primary cardholder doesn’t make on-time payments or maxes out the card.
You can earn more credit card rewards if multiple people spend on the same credit account.Balances could add up fast, with more than one person having access to spending and making purchases.
You can streamline household expenses.Adding an authorized user to an account may incur additional fees.
You don’t have to worry about paying off the balance on the card, as that responsibility falls on the primary cardholder.As an authorized user, you aren’t allowed to make changes to the account, like requesting a credit limit increase or adding other authorized users.
You can establish credit, especially since many card issuers allow minors to be authorized users.The primary cardholder can limit the amount of money an authorized user is allowed to spend.

How do I become an authorized user on a credit card?

To become an authorized user, ask a friend or family member to add you to their account. Ideally, it would be best to ask someone you trust and know is a responsible account holder.

Once the cardholder agrees to add you as an authorized user on a credit card, they will need to contact their bank or card issuer and request that you be added to their card account. This can usually be done online or through their bank’s mobile app, but in some cases, they’ll need to call their bank.

You only need to provide basic information, including your name, date of birth, Social Security number, and contact information. There’s usually no credit check to become an authorized user on someone else’s card. If the cardholder’s request gets approved, you will receive a credit card with your name on it that’s connected to the primary cardholder’s account.

Remember, not all banks and card issuers report authorized user activity to the credit reporting bureaus. Before going through the approval process, ask the primary account holder to confirm with the credit card company that your authorized user status will be reported.

How to remove yourself as an authorized user on an account

There may come a time when you want to remove yourself as an authorized user on a credit card account. Perhaps you’ve built up your credit and no longer need it, or something has changed in your relationship with the primary cardholder.

Either way, you can remove yourself as an authorized user the same way you were added. Contact the credit card issuer via the number on the back of the card, online, or through the company’s mobile app. Request that you be removed as an authorized user; depending on the issuer’s policy, they may or may not approve the removal.

If you make the request over the phone, follow up with a letter referencing the call, along with call details and the last four digits of the account you’d like to be removed from. This serves as a confirmation of your request.

Before removing yourself as an authorized user, remember:

  • The primary cardholder may have to approve removing the authorized user.
  • Once removed, you can no longer use the card or redeem rewards.
  • If this account is used for automatic payments, update your account to avoid declines.
  • Your credit may take a hit if this account was your only source of credit history.

Build credit as an authorized user

Being an authorized user is a great way to establish and repair credit for those just starting out or who need a better credit history. Once you’re an authorized user for long enough to see an increase in your credit score, you can apply for a credit card of your own.

Find out how to apply for a credit card to boost your credit score.

FAQs

Do authorized users build credit?

Yes. If the primary cardholder makes payments on time and has good credit history on the account, becoming an authorized user is a quick way to start building credit.

Does being an authorized user on a credit card affect your score?

Yes. Being an authorized user on a credit card can affect your credit score positively if the primary cardholder steers clear of bad credit habits and practices good ones. However, if the primary cardholder falls behind on payments or maxes the card out, it can hurt both credit scores.

How much will my credit score go up if I become an authorized user?

It depends on the credit card account activity. Your credit score can increase if the account has a positive payment history reported to the bureaus and hasn’t been maxed out. How much it increases will depend on the specific credit history and credit utilization (how much of the credit limit is in use).

Is it better to be an authorized user on a credit card or have a joint credit card?

Being an authorized user is preferable because you reap the account’s benefits without the associated financial responsibility. With a joint credit card account, both cardholders are equally in control of the account and financially responsible for making payments.

How do I remove an authorized user from my credit card?

As a primary account holder, you can usually remove an authorized user from your account by contacting your card issuer via phone or online. In some cases, the authorized user can also contact the card issuer and remove themselves from the account.

How many authorized users can be on a credit card?

The answer will differ from issuer to issuer, as there are different restrictions and policies around how many authorized users can be added to a credit card account. Consult with your credit card issuer to determine how many you can add. Some cards also charge a fee per authorized user.

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What’s important to you for a credit card?
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Is Chime right for you?

We’ll ask just a few questions to see if Chime can help you reach your 
credit goals.

It shouldn’t take more than a minute.

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