How Does Being an Authorized User Affect My Credit?

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How Does Being an Authorized User Affect My Credit?

Think twice before requesting to be added as an authorized user to someone's credit card account. It can add years of positive credit to your report, but it can also come with consequences. Sure, you may not legally be responsible for the debt associated with that account, but your credit can be affected, for better or for worse.

Being an authorized user can impact your credit situation in a number of ways:

  • The accounts you're an authorized user on will appear on your credit report. A lot of Credit Karma members are surprised to see a card on their profile that they're "only an authorized user" on, but the fact is, credit bureaus treat these cards as if they were your own.

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    Being an authorized user on an account can either help or hurt your credit. [Tweet this]

     
  • This setup can make you look bad. Essentially, the primary account holder's actions look like your own. If they miss a payment on this credit card, you miss a payment. If they rack up an extremely high credit card utilization, so do you. This can kill your credit score, the exact opposite of what you want.

  • Your credit score can be affected, depending on the scoring model. The VantageScore 3.0 model only includes positive information from authorized user accounts. On the other hand, the FICO model includes positive and negative marks from legitimate authorized user accounts but will sniff out anybody who games the system. So don't hold your breath if you pay to be added to someone's credit card- FICO won't boost your score.

What about becoming a joint account holder?

The key difference between being an authorized user and being a joint holder is that you have more responsibility as a joint account holder. You're legally expected to pay debt accrued to a joint account. The process of being added to an account is also stricter- lenders will expect you to meet their requirements, like you're applying for a credit card on your own. Authorized users usually won't run into this problem.

Which should I consider?

The authorized user strategy is common for parents who want to help their children build credit. If your parent has established positive credit history and healthy habits that won't backfire on you, you may want to request that they add you as an authorized user. Keep in mind that primary account holders can limit how much of their credit limit you can spend. Joint accounts are more commonly used by spouses who share their finances with each other and don't mind each person having the same credit limit.

A few tips: Contact your bank to make sure they'll report this card under your name and find out what information they'll report. (Better yet, check their policies beforehand.) If you change your mind afterwards, you can easily take this card off your credit report. It's as simple as asking your bank to remove you from the card and stop reporting it. If that doesn't work, you can also file a dispute with the credit bureaus.

So, be smart. Only join up with someone who has their financial accounts in order. If you don't, you may find your credit report marked up with red flags. Nobody at Credit Karma wants that!

(Pssst. If you like sock puppets, check out our video on this topic below.)

About the Author: is the Communications Coordinator at Credit Karma. When she isn't writing her way through life, you can find her reading about the latest in entertainment and watching television almost every night of the week. Say "hi" @noodlemaine!

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All Comments

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Top Contributor
25 Contributions
210 People Helped

Helpful to 48 out of 51 people

Although this article brings up some of the possible negatives for adding authorized users to your accounts (which should be considered before making a decision), I have found it to only be a positive experience.  Before getting married, my husband's credit score was about 100 points below mine. With the dream of securing a mortgage for our own house someday, I chose to add him as an authorized user on my accounts.  After only one month, his score went up 22 points! I know the small steps were taking now to improve our credit will pay off later in lower interest rates.

Reply by
stephlovetm

2 Contributions
2 People Helped
Helpful to 1 out of 2 people

why was this??

1 Contribution
15 People Helped

Helpful to 15 out of 17 people

I added my boyfriend as an authorized user to my credit card to help his credit score. Before adding him his score was at 571 and after adding him it dropped to 512. This was in a matter of days. Why would it drop so much? This is my oldest card and has a low credit utilization. I dont understand what happened. I wanted to help him and it seems like I just made it worse. Can anyone help me understand what might have happened?

Reply by
mcglotlo1

2 Contributions
9 People Helped
Helpful to 9 out of 11 people

That's what i want to know.  CK predict that my score with drop 50 points if i'm added to my mothers cc as a authorized user.  Any one please help!

Reply by
Arsharae

1 Contribution
2 People Helped
Helpful to 2 out of 3 people

Has your accound EVER been late? If so thats why

Reply by
RUBENALLENDE

2 Contributions
1 Person Helped

A Very high possibility is that the credit bureaus take all his debt to his income to determine if he is a high b.k. risk borrower and that can very much hurt him rather then help him since the Vantage score system comes into play with Debt to Income risk factor.

Reply by
uhtoooh

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

My score also dropped too and I only put things on the card I could pay. I paid my bills and paid it 9 days later. Then today I get a notice that my score dropped and it dropped by almost 100 points on one. I don't understand this at al. 99 points I dropped and I paid it within 2 weeks. I don't get that at all. I dont know how this works. I have a Fingerhut account and never use it at all. But I am seirously wth is going on. 

1 Contribution
14 People Helped

Helpful to 14 out of 14 people

This is useful info. I have a great credit score and want to add my husband to improve his score (his credit is so-so, only b/c he has very few lines in his name). I understand that me adding him will help his score, but will adding him hurt mine if I'm the primary card holder? 

Reply by
kezam

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

The only way adding him could harm your score is if he were to overuse the cards, increasing your overall balance.

2 Contributions
7 People Helped

Helpful to 5 out of 6 people

My company recently added me as an authorized user to the company credit card. The article says that the VantageScore 3.0 report only includes positive information from authorized users, but after my company added me, my credit score dropped 30 points due to the company's credit utilization. When you say "only includes positive information," what does that mean?

Reply by
noktulo

2 Contributions
7 People Helped
Helpful to 2 out of 2 people

I got no response to this, but after over a year being an authorized user on my company card, my VantageScore had dropped 40 points. I asked my company to remove me as an authorized user, and the next month my VantageScore jumped up 90 points. Your VantageScore can definitely be negatively affected by being an authorized user on someone else's card that has high utilization.

1 Contribution
7 People Helped

Helpful to 7 out of 9 people

If you are added as an authorized user but never use the card and the primary cardholder continues to use the card responsibly, will you still receive a positive impact on your credit score?

1 Contribution
6 People Helped

Helpful to 6 out of 8 people

My wife added me to her credit card accounts and it statred reporting on my report. I already have many cards and dont want any more cards considering it might harm my score as i am trying to sustain/improve  my scores for Mortgage in couple of months. I know she is responsible and is not gona wrek her payment or credit. But i am worried that having additional credit cards on my report will hurt my credit score which i need to improve. Please advice me if this is a good or bad thing. Als, i already removed myself from one card so will that HURT my score if i take myself off from her authorized user as it will be considered as account closing..... Please advise 

5 Contributions
4 People Helped

Helpful to 2 out of 2 people

My husband passed away 2 months ago.  I found out I was an authorized signer on 2 of his credit cards.  I am told I'm not responsible to pay his debts because the accounts were not joint.  How is it going to affect my credit?  The 2 credit card accounts are going to be charged off.

Reply by
chigirl2005

3 Contributions
4 People Helped

i would call the card company and ask how they are going to report it, you might need to send in a copy of the death certificate so they can close it due to his passing and not charge it off as unpaid/delinquent. because you're only an authorized signer, not a joint account, you're not responsible for the debt but if they close it with a negative status it could harm your credit.

Reply by
RUBENALLENDE

2 Contributions
1 Person Helped
Helpful to 1 out of 1 people

I am sorry about your Loss.

What you can do is just send a letter to all bureaus reporting along with a copy of your S.S. and I.D. and let them know you were only authorized to purchase and never used your Social and they will remove it. 

3 Contributions
12 People Helped

Helpful to 5 out of 5 people

Does the bad credit of the person being added as an authorized user impact the credit of the card holder?

Top Contributor

Reply by
JenniferBonanno

25 Contributions
210 People Helped
Helpful to 18 out of 20 people

In my experience, the only way the card holder's credit would be impacted by this is if the authorized user was misusing the card. For example: 

  • If the authorized user kept maxing out the card, then this could lower your credit score because of overutlization 
  • OR if they charged more debt than you were able to repay that could defintely impact you negatively

Simply adding them as an authorized user will not bring your score down no matter how bad their credit is.

1 Contribution
4 People Helped

Helpful to 4 out of 6 people

My Girlfriend has subpar credit and I introduced her to credit Karma awhile back and she has cleaned up her record greatly but still can't get a decent credit card.  I end up borrowing her the money and she pays be back right away.  Since she has been so good with keeping up with her other bills and paying me back right away I was thinking of adding her to one of my Wells Fargo Cards as an authroized user.  If I do this, will it help her build her credit as long as the account stays in good standing?  

Top Contributor

Reply by
JenniferBonanno

25 Contributions
210 People Helped
Helpful to 10 out of 11 people

It will definitely help build up her credit because it'll be reported on her credit report as well as yours. My husband's credit went up 49 points in 2 months after I added him as an authorized user to my account.  The only catch is to make sure the account stays in good standing, because if not it could hurt both of your credit scores and you'll be the one responisble for paying for it.

Reply by
armedani

1 Contribution
11 People Helped
Helpful to 11 out of 13 people

my credit score was a wreck,  all of sudden my wife added me onto her chase account as an authrorized user and my credit score is going through the roof and I'm getting all these credit card offers now and I used to get denied all the time when i applied for a credit card and recently I applied for a credit card just for the hell of it and i got approved LOL.   

1 Contribution
0 People Helped

if you are an authorized user on a credit card can you be removed if you contact the company that originally signed you up?

Why does someones utiiliaztion need to be on my credit ?  Its ruining mine and I'm  trying to improve my status

I have never used the card and never asked to be put on the account and never signed anything.  Someone put me as an authorized user without my knowledge   Is thier any possibly way to get off these account that have nothing to do with me ?

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