Learn About Adding Authorized Users to Your Credit Card

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Most credit card issuers let you add an additional person to your credit card account, without having this person actually apply for the credit card with you. This additional user is referred to as an authorized user.

The authorized user receives a credit card with their name on it and can use the credit card just like the primary account holder. All purchases the authorized user makes will be processed against the same account and appear on one credit card statement.

 They share the credit limit with the primary account holder and purchases reduce the amount of credit available for both users.

Unlike a joint account holder, an authorized user doesn't have to go through a credit check to be added to the credit card account. Some credit card companies may charge a fee for adding authorized users. Some rewards credit cards offer a bonus if you add an authorized user to your account.​

Adding an Authorized User

To add an authorized user, you'll have to contact your credit card issuer by phone or by logging on to your online account. The card issuer will need the authorized user's personal information - name, address, date of birth, and social security number - to process the request. There may be a limit to the number of authorized users you can add to your account. And it's for the best - the more people with access to your credit card account, the harder it is to keep track of the account.

What Can Authorized Users Do

While the authorized user has all the credit card privileges of the primary account holder, they are not legally responsible for purchases made on the account. That means if there's ever a lawsuit regarding debts on this account, the authorized user won't be included - even if that person was responsible for the purchases.

Authorized users also aren't able to perform other account maintenance activities like adding other authorized users, changing the address on the account, requesting a credit limit increase, or negotiating a lower interest rate. Authorized users can make payment on the account, even though they're not required to.

Authorized User Impact to Credit History

The credit card account history will appear on the authorized user’s credit report, that's if that credit card issuer reports authorized user account to the credit bureaus. That can be a good thing if the payment history is good, but a bad thing if the credit card payment history is bad. No other aspects of either person's credit history will appear on either the authorized user or the primary account holder's credit reports.

If an authorized user account is not showing on your credit report, there's a good chance that credit card issuer - as a policy - doesn't report authorized user accounts to the credit bureaus. A quick call to the card issuer's customer service can let you know whether you can expect the authorized user account to show up in your credit history and with which bureaus.

Note that after the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007, FICO updated the FICO score to give less weight to authorized user accounts overall and also to exclude authorized user accounts added for the sole benefit of a credit score boost.

For example, if a person pays a credit repair service a fee for authorized user accounts, FICO scores will likely not consider that account for calculating a credit score.

Dissolving the authorized user relationship is almost just as easy as starting it. Simply call the credit card issuer (or log on to the primary account holder's online account) and request to remove the authorized user. Their credit card will be deactivated and will no longer work for purchases.