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Colorado Credit Union

Credit Card Authorized User

Credit score dial.

Published 11/10/2021

A credit score is one of the most important numbers you will have throughout your adult life. There are many factors that go into credit scores such as payment history, the amounts owed, age of credit history, how many lines of credit and more.

Getting started at 18 is really important to begin building credit. One great way to begin building credit is to be added as an authorized user.

What does authorized user mean?

According to Experian, an authorized user is someone who is given permission to make purchases using a credit card but are not responsible for payment. The primary person who has the credit card will remain the person responsible for all payments. The authorized user may receive a credit card with their name on it, but the primary owner will review all purchases made and make the payments.

How does being an authorized user help build credit?

Whether you are just beginning your credit journey as a young adult, are further along in your financial journey but haven’t built much credit yet, or need to repair credit, being an authorized user will provide you a jump start to build credit.

Once you are added as an authorized user, a new account will appear on your credit report. When you are being added as an authorized user, make sure your social security number (SSN) is needed during the setup process. If the card is not associated with your SSN, it will not be tied to your credit report. You may also ask the credit card issuer to make sure the credit card is reporting the authorized user activity to the credit bureaus. If it is not reporting, it will not impact your credit report.

Can being an authorized user hurt my credit score?

If you have been added as an authorized user, you should also pay close attention to ensure the primary card holder is making the payments on time. While you are not liable for the debt, late payments may impact your credit score because the payment history category makes up a large portion of calculating a credit score.

According to Experian, the negative information impact will depend on how each bureau views the negative history. For example, Experian will not include information on an authorized user’s credit report if the primary card holder misses payment but will include the high credit utilization category which could end up damaging the authorized user. Keep in mind you can always remove yourself as an authorized user, however, both positive and negative information will be removed from your credit report.

Other ways to build credit:

  • Open a secured credit card. This means you will make a deposit in cash up front, which then becomes your credit limit. As you use the card responsibly, you may have the option to turn that card into an unsecured credit card. Check with your financial institution for your options.
  • Open a credit-builder loan. This is similar to a secured credit card, but is a small personal loan, usually about 6- 24 months long. As you make monthly payments to the loan, you will have access to the balance in your savings account.
  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Keep credit card balances low.
  • It’s not a sprint, but a marathon. The length of your credit history matters.
  • Avoid opening multiple credit accounts in a short time period.

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