Authorized User Status
If you have a poor credit score, then you may want to be an authorized user for someone’s credit card. This enables the primary account holder’s good credit to potentially improve your bad credit. What’s more, adding an authorized user is convenient and virtually risk-free for the primary cardholder. This is one of the measures you may take to effectively manage your personal finances.
What is an Authorized User?
A credit card account holder may allow you to use their credit card. A credit card issuer may register you as their authorized user, granting you permission to use the card. The authorized user won’t be liable for the accrued balances though.
As a result, this method is typically used by parents to let their children use their plastic swipers. They even used it to build their child’s credit score while they’re away in college.
You may also ask someone with good credit for the same purpose. Ensure that person is registered at a credit card company that regularly reports authorized users to credit bureaus. For example, the FICO score model now doesn’t include authorized user accounts to affect the rating.
How Does This Affect your Credit?
Major credit bureaus consider various aspects of a person’s payment history to derive a credit score. This process is meant to gauge a person’s probability of paying off credit balances. If you pay debts on time, it’s taken into account for your credit rating. Another part of an individual’s credit history that is considered includes authorized user accounts.
This method may potentially help you improve your credit score. Results may vary depending on the primary cardholder’s credit, so you must choose a person with good credit. You’ll benefit as an authorized user if the main card owner handles their credit accounts well. Unfortunately, this technique may backfire if you choose someone with poor credit.
Pros and Cons of Authorized User Status
As with all things, authorized user status brings a host of advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, it lets you improve your credit scores with no risk to the primary cardholder. On the other, it might become counterintuitive for credit building, and you may strain your relationship with the main card owner. Regardless, understand all terms and conditions underlying your card, such as credit limits.
As we’ve mentioned, authorized users may benefit from the primary owner’s good credit standing. Credit bureaus will check this activity, and they will add or deduct from your credit score accordingly. That’s why finding someone with healthy credit status is crucial to its credit building results. Simply finding a family member or close friend won’t do, unless they have good credit.
They may be inclined to do so, too, since this doesn’t pose any risks to them. You don’t need to use the card in order to benefit as an authorized user. This means they may freely use the card, and you may sit back as your credit score improves.
Still, you may use their card since you’re authorized, but make sure to ask the primary owner’s permission first.
Unfortunately, being an authorized user may ruin your credit score instead. If you register under someone with a bad credit score, their poor credit standing will be considered into your credit report too. Make sure that your chosen primary cardholder isn’t in dire financial conditions as well.
Also, this may ruin your relationship with your close friend or beloved relative. After all, they are more likely to allow you to be their authorized user. This credit building method is known to challenge numerous relationships since it involves peoples’ finances. You and the main cardholder must be aware of the risks and prepared to receive problems that may arise.
Most importantly, authorized user accounts may not be accepted in your credit report. Some credit bureaus don’t allow it to influence credit scores. Fraudulent individuals have used this system to make money by registering cards under their clients’ names.
As a result, authorized users may benefit less from their status, and some credit bureaus have ignored it altogether.
Authorized User vs Joint Account Holder
Alternatively, you may apply as a joint account holder instead, but it’s much riskier. This brings more responsibility compared to the authorized user status though. You’ll be legally required to pay off card balances, so it’s definitely a riskier choice. You and the primary cardholder will be liable for each other’s purchases.
In addition, canceling your joint account holder status is harder than leaving your authorized user status. Removing an authorized user may easily be done with the credit card company. In contrast, you must close the card account and complete all outstanding balances to remove your joint account holder status. When the issuer receives compensation, only then will the company allow it.
Being an authorized user or a joint account holder aren’t your only credit building options. For instance, there are debt reduction strategies like consolidation and settlement that may help. You may ask a credit counseling company to help you manage your personal finances.
Nevertheless, practicing healthy money habits daily is the best way to build your credit and keep it that way.