How to add someone to your credit card

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Whether it’s your spouse, child in college, nanny or personal assistant, here’s some benefits of adding Additional Cards:

  • You’ll share access to benefits, convenience and security that comes with Card Membership.
  • You can keep track of spending with detailed statements showing everyone’s purchases.

You can complete an application online to add someone to your account.

How to add someone to your credit card

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Whether you were at a recent celebration or had to borrow money for an emergency, you’ve probably found yourself needing to pay your friends back at some point. If you don’t have enough cash on hand, don’t fret: You can pay a friend with a credit card, though it may cost you in fees.

  • 3 ways to pay a friend with a credit card
  • 3 ways to pay a friend with a debit card or bank account
  • Are the fees worth it?
  • FAQs about how to pay someone with a credit card
  • Bottom line on paying a friend with a credit card

3 ways to pay a friend with a credit card

If you’re looking for ways to pay back friends or family without pulling out your wallet, hitting up an ATM, or paying cash advance fees, just look at your phone.

There are a few apps to try out, and don’t be afraid to use more than one. Sometimes different friends have different apps, so if you want to make it easier on them, be versatile with the ways you can transfer funds.

1. Cash App

The Cash App, formerly known as Square Cash, is free to download and accepts credit and debit cards. It’s the No. 1 money app in the App Store, with more than 35 million downloads.

You can send or request money using a $Cashtag, which is a unique identifier so you can make private and secure payments. You can use a credit card to send money, but there’s a 3% transaction fee. The app is free to use otherwise.

After downloading the app and creating an account, enter the dollar amount you want to send and set up who it goes to. The person you’re sending money to also needs the app, and you’ll have to enter their phone number, email, or $Cashtag to make sure your money gets to the right person.

2. Venmo

Venmo requires you to sign up for an account through Facebook or your email. But it’s free to use, and there’s no charge for transferring money with a debit card. There’s a 3% fee for sending money with a credit card, though, so it’s a good idea to use one of the best credit cards for Venmo to help recoup this fee.

Both you and the friend you’re sending money to need to have the Venmo app in order for you to send the payment.

One big differentiator is that Venmo allows you to view public transactions via a newsfeed. You can check up on what your friends and family are paying for, if they allow it to be public (there’s a private option on the transaction, if you choose).

3. PayPal

PayPal is one of the oldest services for electronically sending and requesting money. You’ll need to sign up for a free account and link a credit card to send money. Paying with a credit card will cost you 2.9% plus 30 cents for each transaction (or more, if there’s a currency conversion).

The friend you’re sending money to will also need a PayPal account. It’s a little less user-friendly compared to your other options, especially since PayPal offers so much more than sending electronic payments to friends. Most of its services are geared toward business.

3 ways to pay a friend with a debit card or bank account

While Cash App, Venmo, and PayPal all offer debit card transactions at no extra cost, they are the few that allow credit card payments as well.

If you don’t have a credit card or want to save on transaction fees, you have the option of adding a debit card or bank account to send money to friends.

1. Apple Pay

Earlier this year, Apple discontinued person-to-person credit card payments, but you can use debit cards to transfer money to someone else.

If you have an iPhone, you have a fairly instant way of sending money online. In Messages, you can tap the Apple Pay button in a text conversation with the friend you want to send money to. Enter the amount, then approve the transaction using Touch ID or Face ID.

As long as your friend also has an eligible Apple device with a linked debit card or Apple Cash, the payment is seamless. Your debit card is added to your Apple Wallet so you can avoid manually entering card information when it comes time to send a payment.

2. Google Pay

The Google Pay app allows you to send money to anyone with a phone number or email address. If you’re sending money to another person, Google Pay only allows using a debit card or bank account.

The friend you’re sending money to doesn’t need the Google Pay app, but they’ll need a Google account. Your friend will get an email or text once the money is sent and will have to use their Google account to log in and claim their cash.

3. Zelle

To start using Zelle, you may not even need the app. If your bank or credit union allows you to send money with Zelle, you can use your bank’s app to do it. If your financial institution doesn’t offer Zelle, you can download the app to send money. (Check out Zelle’s full list of partners to see if your bank is eligible.)

The friend you’re sending money to doesn’t need to belong to the same bank as you for you to initiate the payment. If your friend already has Zelle (or their bank partners with Zelle), they can get their money within minutes. If they don’t have Zelle, they can download the app, sign up, and enter the banking information where they want the money to go.

Share your Chase card with ones you love

Share the benefits of your card with family and friends.

Share the convenience of your account with loved ones. When you give loved ones access to your account, they get their own personal card and can enjoy full access to that account. And you can earn rewards on the purchases made by your family members or friends when you add them as an authorized user.

Sign in to add authorized users.

All correspondence, including credit cards, statements, and notifications will be sent to the name and address on file for the primary cardmember. The primary cardmember is responsible for repaying all balances on this account. Authorized users will have the same account number and charging privileges as the primary cardmember but will not be financially responsible. Chase provides account information to the credit reporting agencies for all account users. This information could impact an authorized user’s credit score. When you tell us to add a user to your account, you’re confirming that you have a relationship with the person or people whose name(s), address(es), and date(s) of birth you’ve told us, that all their information is correct, and that you have their consent to add them. If Chase determines you’ve given us fraudulent name, address, or date of birth information, or did not have such consent, Chase can close this account.

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Choose the checking account that works best for you. See our Chase Total Checking ® offer for new customers. Make purchases with your debit card, and bank from almost anywhere with your phone, tablet or computer and at our 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches nationwide.

Savings Accounts & CDs

It’s never too early to begin saving. Open a savings account or open a Certificate of Deposit (see interest rates) and start saving your money.

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The Starbucks ® Rewards Visa ® Prepaid Card is the only reloadable prepaid card that allows you to earn Stars everywhere you shop, with no monthly, annual or reload fees. Other fees may apply.

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Choose from our Chase credit cards to help you buy what you need. Many offer rewards that can be redeemed for cash back, or for rewards at companies like Disney, Marriott, Hyatt, United or Southwest Airlines. We can help you find the credit card that matches your lifestyle. Plus, get your free credit score!

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Whether you choose to work with a financial advisor and develop a financial strategy or invest online, J.P. Morgan offers insights, expertise and tools to help you reach your goals. Check here for the latest J.P. Morgan online investing offers, promotions, and coupons.

INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: • NOT FDIC INSURED • NOT INSURED BY ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY • NOT A DEPOSIT OR OTHER OBLIGATION OF, OR GUARANTEED BY, JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A. OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES • SUBJECT TO INVESTMENT RISKS, INCLUDING POSSIBLE LOSS OF THE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT INVESTED

Chase Private Client

Get more from a personalized relationship with a dedicated banker to help you manage your everyday banking needs and a J.P. Morgan Private Client Advisor who will help develop a personalized investment strategy to meet your evolving needs. Contact your nearest branch and let us help you reach your goals.

INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: • NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NOT INSURED BY ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE

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With Business Banking, you’ll receive guidance from a team of business professionals who specialize in helping improve cash flow, providing credit solutions, and on managing payroll. Chase also offers online and mobile services, business credit cards, and payment acceptance solutions built specifically for businesses.

About Chase

Chase Bank serves nearly half of U.S. households with a broad range of products. Chase online lets you manage your Chase accounts, view statements, monitor activity, pay bills or transfer funds securely from one central place. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us through Chase customer service or let us know about Chase complaints and feedback.

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Other Products & Services:

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“Chase,” “JPMorgan,” “JPMorgan Chase,” the JPMorgan Chase logo and the Octagon Symbol are trademarks of JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Investing involves market risk, including possible loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that investment objectives will be achieved.

J.P. Morgan Wealth Management is a business of JPMorgan Chase & Co., which offers investment products and services through J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPMS), a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor, member FINRA and SIPC. Annuities are made available through Chase Insurance Agency, Inc. (CIA), a licensed insurance agency, doing business as Chase Insurance Agency Services, Inc. in Florida. Certain custody and other services are provided by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (JPMCB). JPMS, CIA and JPMCB are affiliated companies under the common control of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Products not available in all states.

“Chase Private Client” is the brand name for a banking and investment product and service offering.

How to add someone to your credit card

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

One of the fastest ways to boost your credit score is to be added as an authorized user by someone with excellent credit. When you are added as an authorized user to an account, you will inherit the credit history of that account (good or bad). If you have limited or no credit history, your credit score could quickly and dramatically improve with this method.

This post will explain:

  • How being an “authorized user” can help boost your credit score
  • The risks of being added as an authorized user
  • The steps to become an authorized user

How Being An Authorized User Can Help Your Credit Score

You can thank an obscure regulation for the potential benefits of being an authorized user. Regulation B “requires that, when using credit history to evaluate creditworthiness, lenders consider the history of accounts on which the applicant is an authorized user, when available, if one of the account holders is the authorized user’s spouse. Because credit records do not indicate whether an authorized user is a spouse, lenders generally over comply with these requirements and consider all of the accounts on which an applicant was an authorized user when assessing creditworthiness.”

In other words, once you are added as an authorized user to an account (and it doesn’t matter whose account), the history of that account appears on your credit report – and it will be treated as if it was your credit history.

This can be a good thing if you are added to an account with an excellent history. For example, if a mother adds her daughter to a credit card that has been open and in good standing for 20 years, the daughter will receive the benefit of those 20 years of credit history.

There are just a few things to remember:

  • Not all credit card companies report authorized users to the credit bureau. The major credit card issuers (American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Capital One and Discover) do report. However, many smaller banks and credit unions do not. Make sure you check with your bank or credit union to see if they report to the bureau. You can find a list of banks that report authorized users to the credit bureau here.
  • Some credit card companies have age restrictions on authorized users, whereas others have no age restrictions at all. Make sure you ask your credit card company to see who is eligible. You can find age requirements of the major credit card issuers here.

On Clark Howard’s website (a personal finance expert), a 19 year-old with an 820 credit score is featured. The way to get such a good score so quickly is not a mystery: his parents added him as an authorized user to a card with a 17-year history of on-time payments. That long history of responsible use was immediately passed along to the 19 year-old, helping him achieve an excellent credit score.

The Risks of Being an Authorized User

There are a number of risks that both the account holder and the authorized user should consider.

For the account owner, the biggest risk is that the authorized user can start spending on the credit card – and the account owner is liable for the debt. If you make a son, daughter or friend an authorized user and receive a bill for a big weekend in Vegas, you will be responsible for paying the debt, not the authorized user. Be careful before you hand plastic to someone else.

The spending done by authorized users could also impact your credit score. For example, if an authorized user makes a big purchase, that additional debt could negatively impact your score – particularly if it drives up your total utilization.

Some credit card issuers charge an annual fee for authorized users. This is much more common with rewards credit cards that offer extra benefits and perks.

The authorized user is taking a different risk. Having someone else’s credit history on your credit report is a good thing – so long as the account remains in good standing. However, if the primary account owner starts to miss payments or behave poorly, the credit history of the authorized user will be harmed. Before agreeing to become an authorized user, make sure you know and trust the person adding you to their account.

The Steps to Become an Authorized User

Adding an authorized user is easy. For most major credit card issuers, you can do it quickly and easily online. But if you run into any difficulties, credit card companies are more than happy to help via the phone. Cardholders who add authorized users are much more likely to be active, good customers – so credit card issuers are happy to oblige.

Typically, you will need to provide the name, address, date of birth and (for some issuers) the Social Security number of the authorized user.

How to add someone to your credit card

I am the Co-Founder of MagnifyMoney, a personal finance website that was acquired by LendingTree in 2017. Before MagnifyMoney I spent my career in banking at Citibank and…

I am the Co-Founder of MagnifyMoney, a personal finance website that was acquired by LendingTree in 2017. Before MagnifyMoney I spent my career in banking at Citibank and Barclays (where I ran the UK credit card business). I am using that knowledge to help people save money and live financially healthier lives.

Share your Chase card with ones you love

Share the benefits of your card with family and friends.

Share the convenience of your account with loved ones. When you give loved ones access to your account, they get their own personal card and can enjoy full access to that account. And you can earn rewards on the purchases made by your family members or friends when you add them as an authorized user.

Sign in to add authorized users.

All correspondence, including credit cards, statements, and notifications will be sent to the name and address on file for the primary cardmember. The primary cardmember is responsible for repaying all balances on this account. Authorized users will have the same account number and charging privileges as the primary cardmember but will not be financially responsible. Chase provides account information to the credit reporting agencies for all account users. This information could impact an authorized user’s credit score. When you tell us to add a user to your account, you’re confirming that you have a relationship with the person or people whose name(s), address(es), and date(s) of birth you’ve told us, that all their information is correct, and that you have their consent to add them. If Chase determines you’ve given us fraudulent name, address, or date of birth information, or did not have such consent, Chase can close this account.

Follow us:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest

We’re here to help you manage your money today and tomorrow

Checking Accounts

Choose the checking account that works best for you. See our Chase Total Checking ® offer for new customers. Make purchases with your debit card, and bank from almost anywhere with your phone, tablet or computer and at our 16,000 ATMs and more than 4,700 branches nationwide.

Savings Accounts & CDs

It’s never too early to begin saving. Open a savings account or open a Certificate of Deposit (see interest rates) and start saving your money.

Prepaid Card

The Starbucks ® Rewards Visa ® Prepaid Card is the only reloadable prepaid card that allows you to earn Stars everywhere you shop, with no monthly, annual or reload fees. Other fees may apply.

Credit Cards

Choose from our Chase credit cards to help you buy what you need. Many offer rewards that can be redeemed for cash back, or for rewards at companies like Disney, Marriott, Hyatt, United or Southwest Airlines. We can help you find the credit card that matches your lifestyle. Plus, get your free credit score!

Mortgages

Home Equity Line of Credit

You might be able to use a portion of your home’s value to spruce it up or pay other bills with a Home Equity Line of Credit. To find out if you may be eligible for a HELOC, use our HELOC calculator and other resources for a HELOC.

Chase Auto is here to help you get the right car. Apply for auto financing for a new or used car with Chase. Use the payment calculator to estimate monthly payments.

Planning & Investments

Whether you choose to work with a financial advisor and develop a financial strategy or invest online, J.P. Morgan offers insights, expertise and tools to help you reach your goals. Check here for the latest J.P. Morgan online investing offers, promotions, and coupons.

INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: • NOT FDIC INSURED • NOT INSURED BY ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY • NOT A DEPOSIT OR OTHER OBLIGATION OF, OR GUARANTEED BY, JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A. OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES • SUBJECT TO INVESTMENT RISKS, INCLUDING POSSIBLE LOSS OF THE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT INVESTED

Chase Private Client

Get more from a personalized relationship with a dedicated banker to help you manage your everyday banking needs and a J.P. Morgan Private Client Advisor who will help develop a personalized investment strategy to meet your evolving needs. Contact your nearest branch and let us help you reach your goals.

INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: • NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NOT INSURED BY ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE

Business Banking

With Business Banking, you’ll receive guidance from a team of business professionals who specialize in helping improve cash flow, providing credit solutions, and on managing payroll. Chase also offers online and mobile services, business credit cards, and payment acceptance solutions built specifically for businesses.

About Chase

Chase Bank serves nearly half of U.S. households with a broad range of products. Chase online lets you manage your Chase accounts, view statements, monitor activity, pay bills or transfer funds securely from one central place. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us through Chase customer service or let us know about Chase complaints and feedback.

Sports & Entertainment

Chase gives you access to unique sports, entertainment and culinary events through Chase Experiences and our exclusive partnerships such as the US Open, Madison Square Garden and Chase Center.

Other Products & Services:

  • Online Banking
  • Mobile Banking
  • Student Center
  • Deposit and Prepaid Account Agreements

“Chase,” “JPMorgan,” “JPMorgan Chase,” the JPMorgan Chase logo and the Octagon Symbol are trademarks of JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Investing involves market risk, including possible loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that investment objectives will be achieved.

J.P. Morgan Wealth Management is a business of JPMorgan Chase & Co., which offers investment products and services through J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPMS), a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor, member FINRA and SIPC. Annuities are made available through Chase Insurance Agency, Inc. (CIA), a licensed insurance agency, doing business as Chase Insurance Agency Services, Inc. in Florida. Certain custody and other services are provided by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (JPMCB). JPMS, CIA and JPMCB are affiliated companies under the common control of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Products not available in all states.

“Chase Private Client” is the brand name for a banking and investment product and service offering.

If you are just starting out in your financial journey — or have lackluster credit — building credit can seem impossible. How do you establish a credit history when you can’t even get approved for a loan or a credit card?

Adding yourself as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card could help to build and establish your credit.

However, there are some important factors to consider since becoming an authorized user can actually hurt your credit score if you’re added on an account that is not in good standing. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider all sides of this process to find out if it is right for you.

What is an authorized user?

An authorized user is someone who is permitted to use another person’s credit card. Once the original cardholder signs off on the authorization, the authorized user gets a card in their name that is linked to the original cardholder’s account.

The authorized user will likely not receive a monthly statement for the credit card.

However, some credit cards can break out spending made by the authorized user within the balance statement so the cardholder can understand which charges were made by whom.

Who can be an authorized user?

Authorized users are typically family members, legal guardians or trusted individuals of cardholders, but anyone can become an authorized user on another’s credit card.

What is the minimum age to be an authorized user?

Legally, there is no minimum age to gain authorized user status, yet most banks have their own minimum age policies regarding authorized users.

Do authorized users have spending limits?

Authorized users will be subject to the credit limit on the card, and the original cardholder may set spending limits for the authorized user if their bank or issuer allows it.

Do authorized users have to pay credit card bills?

The original cardholder is ultimately liable for charges incurred by an authorized user on their card.

How getting added as an authorized user can work for credit building

A credit check is not required to become an authorized user on someone else’s card. Yet banks and card issuers will often report the full payment history of the card, including the names of each individual card user, to the three main credit bureaus: Equifax(R), Experian(R) and TransUnion(R).

That’s how the authorized user approach serves as a credit building tactic. You don’t need good credit (or any credit) to become an authorized user, but if the bank or issuer reports your card’s full on-time payment history to the credit bureaus, you can begin to build a positive credit history.

How to build your credit as an authorized user

To build your credit history as an authorized user, consider these three details:

  1. Request to be added: Ask a friend or relative with good credit to add you as an authorized user. This can be requested by contacting the main account holder’s bank or credit issuer. Not all banks and card issuers provide authorized users’ card payments to the credit reporting bureaus. Before you go through the approval process, check with the main account holder to confirm that your payment history will get reported.
  2. Focus on a payment plan: The primary cardholder is responsible for paying the bill, but any missed or late payments will appear on both parties’ credit reports. Be sure to communicate with the main account holder to ensure there is a secure payment plan in place to avoid late or missed payments that could hurt both the main account holder and authorized user.
  3. Work closely with the main account holder: It’s important to avoid putting a strain on their card’s credit limit. Be sure to arrange spending limits that can accommodate a shared card account, without damaging the primary owner’s credit utilization ratio. This is the ratio between the total balance you owe and your overall credit limit to see how much credit you are using. Remember that the authorized user doesn’t have to use the card to benefit from the good credit behavior of the original cardholder.

Is an authorized user the same as a co-signer?

While being added as an authorized user is not the same as earning credit card approval through a co-signer, they are both options to start your credit history if you have little to no credit. There are some important differences between getting added to a card as an authorized user or signing up for a card with a co-signer:

Does this
method
require a
credit
check?

Who is legally
liable for paying
credit card debt?

Will payment
history be
reported to the
credit bureaus?

Getting added to a
credit card as an
authorized user

Earning credit card
approval with a
co-signer

If cardholder cannot
pay, co-signer is
legally liable for full
payment

How to get added as an authorized user

Ideally, you will find a close relative with excellent credit who is willing to add you as an authorized user.

In order to get added as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card, the cardholder will need to contact their bank or card issuer and request that you be added to their card account. They will need to provide some basic information to confirm your identity, as well as your name, Social Security Number, date of birth and contact information.

If the cardholder’s request gets approved, you will receive a credit card with your name on it that is connected to the original cardholder’s account. That person may opt to set spending limits on your card, depending on whether the bank allows it. Be sure to work with the main account holder so that you can be aware of any rules regarding card usage and specifics regarding payment reimbursement.

Building your credit the smart way

Being added as an authorized user on another person’s card may help you establish a credit history or build your credit. Yet cardholders and authorized users’ on-time, late or missed payments will be added to both parties’ credit reports, so it’s important that cardholders and authorized users see eye to eye. Be mindful of the following as you consider whether to get added as an authorized user:

  • Confirm with the account holder that the card’s full payment history will get reported. They may need to check with the credit issuer or credit reporting agencies to confirm.
  • Work together to maintain the card account in good standing. Don’t spend more than you are able to reimburse (if this is part of the agreement) the main account holder.
  • Agree to a spending limit and plan to ensure that the main account holder is able to make consistent on-time payments. This payment history is one of the factors that can contribute to an increased credit score for the authorized user.
  • Manage the card’s total utilization by keeping your credit card debts low.

As you begin to build your credit history, your experience as an authorized user can help you improve your credit score, but it can also help you understand how credit is maintained. By proactively engaging with your credit, you can grow your credit score as much as you grow your credit knowledge.

How to add someone to your credit card

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

One of the fastest ways to boost your credit score is to be added as an authorized user by someone with excellent credit. When you are added as an authorized user to an account, you will inherit the credit history of that account (good or bad). If you have limited or no credit history, your credit score could quickly and dramatically improve with this method.

This post will explain:

  • How being an “authorized user” can help boost your credit score
  • The risks of being added as an authorized user
  • The steps to become an authorized user

How Being An Authorized User Can Help Your Credit Score

You can thank an obscure regulation for the potential benefits of being an authorized user. Regulation B “requires that, when using credit history to evaluate creditworthiness, lenders consider the history of accounts on which the applicant is an authorized user, when available, if one of the account holders is the authorized user’s spouse. Because credit records do not indicate whether an authorized user is a spouse, lenders generally over comply with these requirements and consider all of the accounts on which an applicant was an authorized user when assessing creditworthiness.”

In other words, once you are added as an authorized user to an account (and it doesn’t matter whose account), the history of that account appears on your credit report – and it will be treated as if it was your credit history.

This can be a good thing if you are added to an account with an excellent history. For example, if a mother adds her daughter to a credit card that has been open and in good standing for 20 years, the daughter will receive the benefit of those 20 years of credit history.

There are just a few things to remember:

  • Not all credit card companies report authorized users to the credit bureau. The major credit card issuers (American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Capital One and Discover) do report. However, many smaller banks and credit unions do not. Make sure you check with your bank or credit union to see if they report to the bureau. You can find a list of banks that report authorized users to the credit bureau here.
  • Some credit card companies have age restrictions on authorized users, whereas others have no age restrictions at all. Make sure you ask your credit card company to see who is eligible. You can find age requirements of the major credit card issuers here.

On Clark Howard’s website (a personal finance expert), a 19 year-old with an 820 credit score is featured. The way to get such a good score so quickly is not a mystery: his parents added him as an authorized user to a card with a 17-year history of on-time payments. That long history of responsible use was immediately passed along to the 19 year-old, helping him achieve an excellent credit score.

The Risks of Being an Authorized User

There are a number of risks that both the account holder and the authorized user should consider.

For the account owner, the biggest risk is that the authorized user can start spending on the credit card – and the account owner is liable for the debt. If you make a son, daughter or friend an authorized user and receive a bill for a big weekend in Vegas, you will be responsible for paying the debt, not the authorized user. Be careful before you hand plastic to someone else.

The spending done by authorized users could also impact your credit score. For example, if an authorized user makes a big purchase, that additional debt could negatively impact your score – particularly if it drives up your total utilization.

Some credit card issuers charge an annual fee for authorized users. This is much more common with rewards credit cards that offer extra benefits and perks.

The authorized user is taking a different risk. Having someone else’s credit history on your credit report is a good thing – so long as the account remains in good standing. However, if the primary account owner starts to miss payments or behave poorly, the credit history of the authorized user will be harmed. Before agreeing to become an authorized user, make sure you know and trust the person adding you to their account.

The Steps to Become an Authorized User

Adding an authorized user is easy. For most major credit card issuers, you can do it quickly and easily online. But if you run into any difficulties, credit card companies are more than happy to help via the phone. Cardholders who add authorized users are much more likely to be active, good customers – so credit card issuers are happy to oblige.

Typically, you will need to provide the name, address, date of birth and (for some issuers) the Social Security number of the authorized user.

How to add someone to your credit card

I am the Co-Founder of MagnifyMoney, a personal finance website that was acquired by LendingTree in 2017. Before MagnifyMoney I spent my career in banking at Citibank and…

I am the Co-Founder of MagnifyMoney, a personal finance website that was acquired by LendingTree in 2017. Before MagnifyMoney I spent my career in banking at Citibank and Barclays (where I ran the UK credit card business). I am using that knowledge to help people save money and live financially healthier lives.

Adding your significant other as an authorized user allows them to make purchases on your account — but they won’t be responsible for paying the bills.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t have a credit history and you want to help, you can share one of your accounts. The account would show up on their credit report, helping them build credit. However, there are two ways to share an account, and it is crucial to know the difference between them. Plus, you do want to weigh the good with the bad when it comes to sharing an account in general.

Authorized user vs. joint account holder

Adding your significant other as an authorized user grants him or her permission to use your credit account (with their own card). But that person is not responsible for the bills and has no power to make changes to the account. That responsibility is all yours. A joint account holder, on the other hand, has equal responsibility for the account, including paying the bill, and has the right to make changes to the account.

If your boyfriend or girlfriend lacks experience with credit, adding them as a joint account holder might not be a good idea. Also, it’s hard and getting harder to even find an issuer that will allow a joint account . For those reasons, authorized user status is the most feasible way to go.

Pros and cons to adding an authorized user

Making your partner an authorized user lets you help that person build his or her credit without surrendering too much control over your finances. Still, consider whether your help is necessary and worth the risk. This decision is not to be taken lightly.

You’ll help build their credit. Assuming you maintain good credit card habits (on-time payments, low debt-to-income ratio, etc.), that will be reflected on your partner’s credit report and help him or her build good credit .

You’ll earn more rewards. If it’s a rewards card account, your partner’s purchases will earn you more miles, points or cash back. Some credit card companies also give bonus points for adding an authorized user.

You maintain control. As the account holder, you have the power (and responsibility) to control authorized user spending. You can do this two ways. First, if you don’t give them a physical credit card, they can’t spend on your account at all. Some credit card companies will let you choose whether you want a physical card for your authorized user. Otherwise, the authorized user’s card is mailed to the account holder, so you have the option of passing it along or not. Second, your credit card company may allow you to set spending limits for authorized users. If so, you can decide how much your partner is allowed to spend on your account. Since they have no power to make changes to the account, they cannot request a card or change their spending limit.

You’re liable for their spending. If your partner has a card and you choose not to set or are unable to set a spending limit, they could easily run up a big bill. Even if they have every intention of being responsible, people have a tendency to spend more money when it’s not their own. This is especially worrisome if you break up. If you don’t remove your ex from your account right away, that person has the power to do a lot of damage to your finances — and won’t be liable for a penny of it.

It could hurt your credit. Your partner could max out your account or even just put a high balance on it. Since the amount of debt you have is a major factor in your credit score , that could have a negative impact on your credit.

It could hurt their credit. On the flip side, if your credit card habits aren’t so great, it could hurt your partner’s credit. Missing or late payments or high balances will have the same negative impact on their score. Also, when you remove your partner from your account, their credit score could drop. Encourage your partner to opens their own account once they establish credit so they can continue building their score.

If you take the proper precautions, you can easily add your boyfriend or girlfriend as an authorized user, help them build credit, and protect your credit at the same time. Without the proper precautions, though, it could just as easily hurt you both.