Posted by William Charles on February 19, 2014
Credit Scores

Published on February 19th, 2014 | by William Charles


How Does Being An Authorized User Affect Your Credit?

People often have a lot of questions about how authorized users affect credit scores and credit reports. We decided to answer some of the most common questions out there. 

If I add somebody as an authorized user to my card, will their credit be affected?

Authorized users are only supposed to be reported to credit bureaus (and thus affect credit) if they are your spouse, this is because a few years ago somebody had the bright idea of offering a service where they add you as an authorized user to help increase your credit score.

Authorized user your spouse and card not showing on their credit report?

If the authorized user is your spouse and the credit card issuer is not reporting this information to the credit bureau then call the card issuer first to inform them the authorized user is your spouse. This should get it added to their credit report. If it’s still not added, call the credit bureaus as well.

That being said, it is possible to make an authorized user appear as a spouse and thus get it to show on their credit report. To do so the primary card holder and authorized user should:

  • Have the same surname
  • Live at the same address
  • Be of opposite sexes
Equifax is the most aggressive when it comes to removing non-spousal accounts.

Equifax is known for removing authorized user data when they believe the authorized user is not the spouse of the primary card holder.

Which Banks Report Non-Spousal Authorized Users To Credit Bureaus?

Somebody banks will report non-spousal authorized user accounts to the credit bureau, below is a list of banks who do so:

  • BofA
  • Barclays
  • CapOne
  • Chase
  • Citi (reports to all three credit bureaus)
  • Credit One
  • Discover (reports to all three credit bureaus)
  • Firestone (you must call and request the form to fill out)
  • Macy’s
  • NFCU
  • Walmart (GECRB)
  • Zales

Which Banks Don’t Report Non-Spousal Authorized Users To The Credit Bureaus?

  • HSBC (Before CapOne takeover)
  • Jared
  • Kays
  • Lexus
  • RBS
  • UMB

[Neither of these lists contain American Express, that’s because American Express &  authorized users are much more complicated. We will be adding a dedicated post about this in the next week or two]

If I Add Somebody As An Authorized User, Will Their Score Go Up?

If you have a good credit history on that card (pay the credit card statement on time, have a low credit utilization and it’s an old card) then it will be beneficial. The opposite is also true though, if you have bad history (never pay on time, have a high credit utilization ratio and it’s a new card) then it will be detrimental to their credit. If you’re unable to be somebody and have them count as an authorized user, then it’s best for them to get a secured credit card to help build their credit history. This is true for the FICO score only, vantageScore doesn’t include authorized user data in their scoring process.

If I am removed as an authorized user, what will happen?

When you are removed as an authorized from an account, the card issuer should notify the credit bureaus and the bureaus should remove all data relating to this account from your credit report. If they fail to do so, you can file a dispute to have these removed.

Does being an authorized user affect your ability to earn a credit card sign up bonus?

No, if you’re added as an authorized user you can still apply for the same card yourself and receive the sign up bonus. For example, the chase sapphire preferred currently gives you 5,000 additional points when you add an authorized user. You could add your wife as an authorized user and then she could sign up for her own chase sapphire preferred and still receive the 40,000 points when she spends $3,000. On the other hand, if you add somebody as a joint user they will not be able to receive the sign up bonus again.

Am I responsible for the main card holders debts if I am added as an authorized user?

No, you’d only be liable for that debt if you were made a joint-owner or co-signed for the credit card. On the other hand the primary card holder is responsible for all of the debt that an authorized user accrues. This is why it’s extremely important to only make people you trust completely an authorized user (e.g spouses). If you wouldn’t loan them the credit limit of the card, you shouldn’t be adding them as an authorized user.

Does being added as an authorized cause a hard inquiry on your credit report?

No, being added as an authorized user will not allow the lender to do a hard inquiry on your credit report. This is because the account holder is responsible for the debt that an authorized user generates.

Do I get all the benefits of the card if I am added as an authorized user (e.g free baggage, insurance etc?)

Usually the more premium benefits such as free baggage don’t transfer to authorized users, whilst items like insurance will transfer. As always check the product disclosure as this varies a lot card to card.


Other Advantages Of Adding Authorized Users

  • To take advantage of American Express offers such as: small business Saturday, sync offers and twitter offers allow every card holder to take part (once per card) this includes authorized users. This means you can take advantage of such offers more times than you normally would be able to.
  • You can manage somebody elses credit cards for them. My mom isn’t particularly interested in credit card sign up bonuses, despite seeing the rewards first hand. Now she just applies for the cards, adds me as an authorized user and I do the rest. I could’ve done something similar with other family members, but they prefer to manage it themselves.

This page was last updated on 18th, February, 2014. It’s next due to be updated on 18th, August, 2014.

30 Responses to How Does Being An Authorized User Affect Your Credit?

  1. Bryan Hall says:

    Why would the spouse need to be the same sex? I am on my husbands accounts and have no issues. I also don’t agree you need to be at the same address seeing I was on my parents accounts that live out of state when I was in college. Just thought you should know .

  2. tangram says:

    I recently added my husband as an authorized user to my credit card, but on talking to the customer service rep at BofA afterwards, I was informed that they do NOT report any AUs (not even spousal as in my case) to the bureaus. This also matches what a banker told us at the brannch. We are yet to even receive the card for my husband so we haven’t been able to directly check his report to see if this account does show up, but so far the info I have is at odds with what you have posted. Is it a law or just suggested practice for lenders to report spousal AUs?

    • ClemK says:

      Did you hear anything else? My grandmother added me as an AU. And when we call the credit card company they said that it should report to the credit bureaus. However when we talked to the bank rep at our local branch she said it wouldn’t. She also stated that they report to the credit bureaus quaterly.

      • KayLing says:

        My husband was added as an authorized user to my BofA card in 2012 and it has absolutely been on his report. Though they claim that it doesn’t effect his score, it certainly reflecting under his revolving accounts.

  3. Kevin says:

    Authorized Users should be illegal and this article is incorrect.

    Being added as an authorized user is equivalent to a hard inquiry! All you need is a name and address to add a person onto your account and affect their credit score. I was added as an “authorized user” onto a good standing account with 10% credit utilization only to find out it dropped my credit by 12 pts as it showed I had opened a new account. This was without me signing anything or giving out my SS#.

    So what’s stopping me from getting random peoples names/addresses and adding them onto any of my accounts? NOTHING.

    An enemy can add you onto a bad account and drop your credit score easily without you knowing until saw a credit report. Oh, and good luck trying to prove your innocence to the credit bureaus.

  4. SavingsChris says:

    Took advantage of the authorized user bonus with my wife’s Sapphire Preferred earlier in the month. Hard inquiry was added to my credit report – good thing I manage the cards!

  5. LWT says:

    So what are the rules regarding authorized users and American Express? I’d like to add my in-laws as authorized users to one of my Amex cards to improve their credit scores.

  6. Dan says:

    Was there ever a follow-up post regarding American Express cards and authorized users?

  7. Xander says:

    My Dad added me to his Discover® account as an authorized user to boost my credit for a mortgage; yet the did not require an SSN and they are not reporting to the bureaus. Can I make a request to Discover® asking them to report?

  8. Victor says:

    In my experience all banks report them but the list here is more exhaustive than the banks I have used. I have not dealt with these banks that don’t report it on credit report.

    My experience with some banks has been that when you remove the authorized user the bank stops reporting any new information but if the last statement balance (the last when the user was still an authorized user) continues to show up on the authorized user’s credit report. At least that’s how many of them do, I specifically remember Chase and Wells Fargo. This has caused some damage when that authorized user tries to open a new credit card inquiry because the “authorized” card balance shows up on his report and it is one of the reasons mentioned on the list of “factors that negatively impact your credit report” that the bank sends after approving or denying the card.

    Now I try to track the adding and removing of users to try to add and remove authorized users when the balance on the card is zero that they a zero balance reported on the authorized users’ report.

    The authorized users can dispute this info by calling chase and then talking to someone in the appropriate department. I usually get one of a primary cardholder to call Chase and then say that I want to hand over the phone to this former authorized user whose credit report is still showing this card. They then transfer and once you get to the right person (it could take a couple of hops) and they understand what you need to do, the appropriate person reads out a disclosure that it may impact your score and then process your request to delete the card from the report. This could negatively impact the score if it was a $200 balance with a $15000 credit limit. Removing it would positively impact the score if it was a $14000 balance on a $15000 limit card. With Chase this can be done by sending a secure message online. They respond with a letter template along with a number to fax that to, the authorized user should sign and fax it to them:

    Cardmember Service, PO Box 15298 Wilmington, DE
    19850-5298 or fax the information to 1-888-593-8302.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    I am not a user on the account, and I hereby authorize the
    bank to delete this account from my credit report:

    Account Number: ________ – ________ – ________ – ________

    Account Number: ________ – ________ – ________ – ________

    Name To Be Removed: _____________________________________

    Social Security Number: _______ – ______ -__________



    Signature: _____________________________________________

  9. Porkisking says:

    I received a hard inquiry for adding myself to my wife’s US Bank Club Carlson card (personal). The form I faxed in required a SS# for the authorized user.

  10. Kristin says:

    I just called Credit One and was informed if you have an authorized user on the account. They do not report to the authorized users credit unless you are married. Further more, if you get married to your authorized user. You have to call them and advise them of the change. Once this happends they will begin the credit reporting on the first of the new billing cycle after the change was reported.

  11. Harry says:

    We added our daughter to a very old Discover card as an AU. It now shows up on her personal credit report. The CRB’s show that she has this account for six years BEFORE she was born. I love it and get a real kick out of this!

    • Jeremy says:

      Did it show any of the previous history or just the previous age? I am asking because in the past on my card i had some past due but have been current for awhile and plan to be. I didn’t want to add my daughter and the previous negative hurt her report.

    • wes says:

      Did it help her score?

  12. River says:

    I am not interested in having an authorized user’s info reported to the bureaus. I just want them to have access to assist me when needed (I am handicapped). What would be the best bank or store cards to acquire that will not report their info to the credit bureaus? Thanks

  13. TMBL says:

    I could not figure out why my Trans Union credit score was 100 points less than my Equifax score.
    After about 6 months of this situation, I looked at my Trans Union account and it said I was using 99% of available credit on one of my credit cards, which I know was not true… as I pay off my cc’s every month. I figured out that my daughter had put me on as an authorized user on a credit card that she had just gotten …. six months previously… AND that she had MAXED OUT and was using 99% of her available credit on. I immediately told her to REMOVE me as an authorized user.
    Within 2 weeks my Trans Union credit score was raised 85 points.


  14. Pingback: Card Issuers that Issue Unique Card Numbers for Authorized Users - Doctor Of Credit

  15. Sousie says:

    My capital one card is almost maxed out and have not been paying bills lost job and my husband is AU but I did remove him on the account will it still show up on his credit report and if so how can I remove it and does the card need to be close first.

  16. Karin says:

    Without my knowledge my exhusband added me as authorized user on his first credit card. He took off and didn’t pay on it and now it’s on MY credit report sent to collection agency!!! I never signed or authorized to be added as a user! Now I’m stuck trying to get HIS debt off MY credit! Can’t blv how easily they let him add me! Any advice ? I’m calling this card tday but I doubt they even CAN help me now! I thought my permission would be required for that! So sad now

  17. Pingback: [Targeted] Citi $50 Bonus for Adding Authorized User Card - Doctor Of Credit

  18. Michelle King says:

    Hello, My mother added me to her Barclays and Old Navy visa card as an AU. Her RCI barclays card asked for my information such as DOB, address, etc. But not my social. Her old navy’s visa(synchrony) just asked for my first and last name. How do I get for her Barclays and Visa to attach to my credit profile?

  19. Linda says:

    This is a question regarding the Chase 5/24 rule and being added as an authorized user on very old credit card accounts. I have been RECENTLY added to 2 of my husbands accounts that are 20+ year old. (and by the way- this power jumped my score to over 800 points!)
    I get the point about authorized user for accounts younger than 2 years old counts toward the 5/24 for the AU…but what about adding them to accounts much OLDER than 2 years old, or even to to an INK account? Will this get around the problem? I want to apply for more Chase Cards but I need to know- Will these 2 AU accounts that are cards that were opened before year 2000 push me to the 5/24 limit ? Will they count against the 5/24?

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