Category Archives: Authorized Users

How does the credit scoring formula look at charge cards?

This post originally appeared March 15, 2018 on as “Can adding authorized user to charge card help them build credit?

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit:
I’m adding an authorized user to my American Express Gold to help this person rebuild credit – and for me to earn rewards.

However, this card does not have a preset limit. Does this even help improve this person’s FICO credit score? Or will it hurt the authorized user’s credit because there will not be a debt-to-credit ratio?

There will only be a high balance indication. And this person does not have any other credit line out there.

Dear Megan,
Good question. And good idea adding an authorized user whose additional card use can help generate enough additional rewards points to make that American Express Premier Rewards Gold card worth the $195 annual fee (after a free first year).

Yet, while helping you accumulate those points, I understand your concern over the card’s impact on the authorized user’s credit score, especially since this authorized user doesn’t have any other open “revolving” credit.

We’ll focus on why this lack of available credit matters and how this American Express Premier Rewards Gold card, and other “charge” cards, do and do not help authorized users’ credit scores.

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How good credit can instantly appear, then disappear

This post originally appeared February 8, 2018 on as “‘How will removing authorized user affect their credit score?

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
Someone without any credit history gained a high credit score after being added on my major credit card as an authorized user.

It has been only five months and this person had zero credit history prior to being placed on my card as an authorized user.

How would it affect this authorized user if I terminate them from my credit card account? And if so, how soon will it affect the authorized user’s account? – Najwa

Dear Najwa,
As your authorized user friend has no doubt found out by now, a consumer can indeed go from having no credit history or credit score to a high credit score – mid-to-upper 700s – literally overnight.

All she has to do is piggyback as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account. An account, by the way, that she will bear no legal responsibility for – even when actively using it.

Here’s the reason why this way of establishing a credit score can work so easily: Most credit card issuers not only report account information monthly to the credit bureaus in the names of their primary account holders, but also in the names of the authorized users of those cards.

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Despite 90% utilization, Dad’s cards can still help your score

This post originally appeared November 16, 2017 on as “‘I’m an authorized user on high-balance cards; what to do?

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I am an authorized user on six of my dad’s credit cards, but his credit utilization is well over 90 percent on all cards. I am a freshman in college and this is affecting my credit score. Should I ask him to remove me, or will this hurt my score even more?

I have a Discover card in my name now, which I am paying perfectly. I usually pay my small balance off each month or every two weeks.

What should I do to improve my score? The simulator shows that if he pays down his cards $10,000 plus, my score will go up drastically. Should I be patient or not? – Cole

Dear Cole,
When you consider that having your name removed as an authorized user can be as simple as you or your dad making a phone call to the card company, why even wait to drop those 90 percentage points off of your credit utilization?

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Authorized user card could help your score in different ways

This post originally appeared October 26, 2017 on as “‘Will adding myself as authorized user to spouse’s card boost my score?

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I just read your article “How average credit account age affects your FICO score,” which I found to be very informative and beneficial.

I have had only one credit card (American Express) since 2001, but noticed that some critical institutions, such as the Social Security Administration, asks users to supply Visa, Mastercard or Discover for the enhanced security features on its website.

If I became an authorized user on my spouse’s Visa card, would they use her start date for calculating my new average age, or would it be as of the date I was added as an authorized user? Thanks for your response. – Dex

Dear Dex,
As more consumers have come to know, an authorized user is someone who has been given permission to use a card account by the primary cardholder.

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Are authorized user cards helping or hurting your score?

This post originally appeared July 6, 2017 on as “‘Q&A: Does being an authorized user on too many cards hurt my score?

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
When someone adds you to their card as an authorized user and you already have your own line of credit, will taking yourself off of their cards hurt your credit score? He has good credit, but it makes me look like I have way too many credit cards. – Gail

Dear Gail,
This could be a tough call. If you’re not careful, removing your name from any of those authorized user cards, which then removes them from your credit report, could just as easily have your score heading south as north.

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Account access for authorized users can vary among cards

This post originally appeared June 8, 2017 on as “‘6 questions to ask when adding an authorized user to your card

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I have a few questions regarding adding an authorized user to my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, that I can’t seem to find answers to online. My girlfriend needs to begin building her credit score, and I see this as a potential opportunity to help.

1. Do I maintain full access to the account?

2. By adding her, would my “credit limit” of $5,000 increase to $10,000 because of the second card?

3. Will she have to pay an additional annual fee?

4. Will my account receive the miles/points for the money she spends?

5. Can I pay off balances early to maintain below a 35 percent balance to mitigate the title of “risky cardholder” to credit agencies? For example, if 35 percent of $5,000 is $1,750 per month, but we each spent $1,000, can we do it in a way in which the balance is never over $1,750?

6. How do I keep the authorized user’s purchases separate from mine? Does each card have its own separate balance on my account?

Not sure if you can answer all or any of my questions, but I appreciate you taking the time to reply. – Nathan

Dear Nathan,
It’s good of you to help your girlfriend begin to build a credit score. It’s also good that you’re asking these questions now, before adding her to your card as an authorized user.

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When the thrill of being on your GF’s cards is gone

This post originally appeared September 1, 2016 on as “Removing yourself as an authorized user

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I used my girlfriend’s credit cards to build up my credit scores as an authorized user. I want to take myself off those accounts (which are in perfect shape, like 2 percent usage). Will this drop my score significantly? I only have one unsecured card in my name. – Tom

Dear Tom,
Sometimes it can seem that raising a credit score simply by being added to someone’s credit card as an authorized user might just be too good to be true. After all, what could be easier? You don’t have to have good credit of your own or even make any payments. Once you’ve been added, that card automatically appears on your credit report and is included in your credit score as if it were your own.

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Discarding authorized user card could hurt more than help

This post originally appeared July 14, 2016 on as “Authorized user doesn’t like the piggyback ride

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I was recently added to my fiance’s accounts as an authorized user to try to help him clear up some fraud. He had a few late payments in the past and now those are showing on my credit report. Is that legal? Can I dispute this since the late payments happened long before I became an authorized user? – Amy

Dear Amy,
Not only is it legal to report account history that predates you becoming an authorized user, it’s based on a legal requirement.

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Authorized user, primary cardholder: there’s a difference

This post originally appeared February 4, 2016 on as “Primary account holders are responsible for card debt

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
Nine years ago we opened up a Home Depot credit card, since we gave them both our information we never thought about who was primary on the account. I am the bill payer and when I called to have one of our payments deferred toward a promotion amount they said they had to speak to the primary. They said that was the law. Is that true, just to make a payment? — Pattie

Dear Pattie,
Despite you being the bill payer, from what you’ve described it sounds like there is some question as to your role in the ownership of this account, as Home Depot doesn’t seem to see you as a “primary” account holder — someone responsible for the debt.

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Removing name from card can be easier than you think

This post originally appeared December24, 2015 on as “Involuntary authorized user wants to be removed

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
Hi! Someone I hardly know added me as an authorized user on his credit account. I called the credit card company and asked to be removed, but they said I needed his information since mine didn’t match. He didn’t have any of my information so I’m not sure how this occurred. I don’t have any of his information, like birthdate or anything. How can I get myself removed?  — Cheryllyn

Dear Cheryllyn,
First, let’s get an understanding of exactly what it means to be an authorized user on a credit card account. Then, we’ll look at how being an authorized user can impact your credit score. Lastly, I’ll tell you what you really want to know: How you can remove yourself from the account, remove this account from your credit report and be done with this person you hardly know, but who has intruded into your credit uninvited.

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