When people are just starting out building their credit or want to improve their credit score, often the fastest way to get started is by becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. An authorized user is a person who has permission from the primary account holder to use the account. While authorized users don’t have to make payments on most accounts, they can still take advantage of their share of the credit limit.
What is an Authorized User?
An authorized user is someone who is added to a credit card account by the primary cardholder. The primary cardholder is responsible for making payments on the account while you get the authorization to use the credit card.
For example, you have a credit card, and your son, Tom, wants to have his credit card. You can call your bank, ask for an additional card, and tell them that you want Tom as an authorized user. They will send you another credit card, which you can give to him.
Once Tom makes purchases using that card, the information about those purchases will show up in your credit report and in his credit report. That way, both you and Tom are responsible for the debts on that account.
An authorized user gets a credit card tied to the account but won’t make changes to the account. This means they don’t have the authority to add other authorized users or request a credit increase.
Authorized users are often spouses, children, or other family members of the primary cardholder. By adding an authorized user, the primary cardholder enables another person to purchase using the primary cardholder’s account.
3 Proven Ways Authorized User Status Helps Build Credit History
Your credit history is built from many different aspects of your financial life, including:
? payments (both on time and late)
? credit limits
? account balances
? length of time the accounts have been open
? types of accounts (credit cards, student loans, mortgages, etc.)
? new lines of credit opened
When another person adds you as an authorized user to their account, you are given access to that card. All of the payment history and credit limits associated with it go onto your report. This helps you:
1. Build your credit in several ways. If the account has a long history of on-time payments and has a high credit limit compared to the balance on the card, it means a low utilization rate.
2. It helps you repair your credit. If you suffered bankruptcy or missed payments, being an authorized user helps you repair your credit as the on-time payments will reflect on your credit account
3. It helps you manage expenses. You only spend money on necessary items, so you don’t go over the limit. Married couples manage bills well when they are authorized users of each other’s cards. Thus, helping them manage their budget and reduce the credit utilization rate.
The cardholder also benefits from having an additional authorized user on their card. The cardholder will have to increase the overall credit limit. They will now be able to spend more than they would with just their accounts. This may reduce their credit utilization ratio, which may increase their FICO score.
Tip: To calculate the utilization rate, divide your total credit card balances by your total credit card limits.
Who Can Put Me as an Authorized User on Their Cards?
The person who has the credit card is known as the primary cardholder. He can add you to his account by calling the card issuer and giving them your full name, date of birth, and Social Security number.
If the issuer approves you being added. After that, you should receive your credit card. A family member or an employer can add you as an authorized user by logging on to their online account and adding you or contacting the card issuer by phone.
To process this request, the primary cardholder will need:
? your name
? date of birth
? social security number
Will My Bad Credit Hurt the Person Allowing Me Authorized User Status?
The person who added you as an authorized user won’t be affected by your credit history. A credit card company looks at the credit of the primary account holder, not the authorized user. As long as the primary cardholder makes an on-time payment, your credit shouldn’t be affected.
The performance of an authorized user is not factored in when calculating the primary cardholder’s score. But just because it won’t hurt you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful.
How to Protect Your Credit Score as a Primary Cardholder
As much as you want to help others build their credit history or repair their credit, you have to take certain precautionary measures to maintain a good credit history. Below are some of the measures you should consider.
No matter who it is, the authorized user can do a lot of damage to the primary account holder if they get carried away with spending on their card. If that happens, it could cause enough added debt for the primary account holder to have trouble making their payments. And if they miss one payment, their score could plunge some points — enough to cause problems for both your credit scores.
Don’t let your authorized users keep too high a balance on their cards
That can hurt both your credit limit utilization rate and your FICO score. For example, if a card has a $5,000 limit and you spend $3,000 and add an authorized user who spends $1,500, you’re already carrying 50% of your limit in debt before you add them to your account. Ensure you only add an authorized user if you can stay on top of your finances.
Keep tabs on spending habits
To curb overspending and for this arrangement to work, it’s important that you keep tabs on the authorized users’ spending habits. Adding an authorized user makes it easy for someone to rack up debt and negatively affect your credit score.
The Bottom Line
The primary benefit of being an authorized user is that you have a credit card in your name that reports positive payment history to the three major credit bureaus, which helps you build good credit. This is especially valuable if you’re new to credit, are recovering from a poor financial situation, or want to improve your score.
A more positive outlook toward a more financially secure future starts today. Give the Ascent Network a call today at 1-877-871-2400. Ascent Network helps consumers all over the United States and is available locally in Huntington Beach, CA, Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, and Thousand Palms.