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You can usually add an authorized user by logging in to your credit card account online. Authorized users get their own cards, which can be used just like a regular credit card, but the primary cardholder is always responsible for the account balance.
Looking to build your credit fast? Becoming an authorized user on a responsible person’s credit card can be a quick path to building credit without a credit check.
If you already have great credit established, adding a trustworthy authorized user to your card can help you earn more rewards more quickly, while helping someone else build his or her credit. But as you’ll see, mutual trust is key to an authorized user relationship.
Keep reading to learn more, or jump down to our instructions for adding authorized users for different card issuers.
When you’re approved for a credit card you become the primary cardholder. But you can add more official cardholders to your account, known as authorized users.
An authorized user (AU) is a secondary cardholder, with some of the rights and privileges of the primary cardholder. Authorized users will get copies of the original card, and can use it just like any other credit card.
Here’s a summary of everything you need to know about authorized users:
The crucial thing to understand about authorized user cards is the legal liability to pay. Imagine you add an authorized user to your account, and that person racks up a ton of charges but refuses to pay you for them.
You’ll have no legal recourse, you’ll just be stuck with the debt. That can be pretty bad for your credit utilization, and if you end up making any late payments the negative credit score impact could be even worse.
Aside from this risk, authorized user accounts are pretty great in a lot of ways. As long as you add trustworthy and responsible people, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
There are several cases in which adding an authorized user can be a smart move, either for you (the primary cardholder) or the other person. Parents may add their children, for example, to start teaching them about credit and building their credit history early on. We go over situations like that below.
Remember that the primary account holder and any AUs will share a single credit line. Any purchases made will reduce the total available credit for everyone involved, so be sure to keep a close eye on your revolving utilization ratio.
You must have consent from the authorized user to add him or her to your credit account. Otherwise, the card issuer can close your account for violating the terms.
Adding an authorized user to your credit card is the best way to share your account (if that’s something you’re interested in doing). Cosigning to open a joint account is another way to share your credit card, but this method is a lot riskier for both parties involved.
When you cosign for a credit card with someone else, you’ll each be equally liable for the debt. Any late payments or derogatory activity on a joint card could also haunt both of your credit reports and scores for many years to come. Most of the major card issuers don’t allow cosigning.
Adding an authorized user to your card is usually quick and easy. It might even seem too quick and easy, but that can be true for regular credit card applications too.
You can add additional users to your account at any time, for cards that allow it. Some credit card companies will even let you add authorized users during your initial account application.
We have a set of specific instructions for adding authorized users for each card issuer below.
To add an authorized user, just log in to your online account and find the appropriate link. It will probably say something like:
Next, you’ll have to supply some basic information for the authorized user. You’ll usually need to provide:
After inputting the required information you can submit your request. The card issuer may approve your request instantly, or it could take some time to verify the identity of the authorized user.
Soon after, either you or the authorized user will receive a new card in the mail. It will need to be activated just like any other card.
Once you add an AU you’ll be able to set spending limits for that account, if the issuer offers this feature. You’ll typically be able to monitor an authorized user’s activity, such as by filtering transactions to show which accounts made which purchases.
Some credit card companies may have certain requirements for authorized users, while others may not. American Express, for example, requires additional users to be at least 13, unlike most other issuers.
Some business cards allow you to add authorized users, also known as employee cards in this case, while others will not. In general, the rules that apply to authorized users of personal, consumer credit cards also apply to authorized users of business cards (though many business card issuers won’t report normal account activity to the personal credit bureaus).
You may want to add authorized users or employee cards to simplify bookkeeping, and get all your expenses in one account. This is also a good way to give your employees an easy payment option for business spending or travel, while taking advantage of protections and benefits.
Plus, by adding employees as authorized users (versus reimbursing employees for expenses), you’ll earn rewards for that spending on your business account. Just remember that only the primary cardholder is legally responsible for paying the card balance.
You can designate someone as an authorized user to help him or her rebuild or establish a credit history. The card activity will typically appear on the authorized user’s credit reports (though some card issuers may not report authorized users to the credit bureaus).
The issuer may begin reporting card activity from the point at which the AU account is opened, or it may report the entire account history for that card — going back to the date it was opened by the primary cardholder. This could include any late payments that were previously made, before the authorized user was added.
The decision to include the full account history or not on an authorized user’s credit reports may also be in the hands of the credit bureaus, rather than the card issuer.
So, we recommend only becoming an authorized user on accounts with spotless payment histories, in case the full account history is reported on your credit reports. You don’t want an old late payment — that wasn’t even your fault — to hurt your credit scores.
If an authorized user card is added to your credit reports, your scores might benefit from the account in several ways.
Keep in mind each card issuer has its own minimum age requirement for authorized users, and they vary quite a bit. Some have no requirement at all. And some issuers set a limit on the number of AUs you can have on a single account.
You can see all those details below, along with instructions for adding authorized users with every major card issuer.
If the card is used responsibly and the account is in good standing, your credit scores may improve. But if negative activity is reported, like maxed out credit limits and late payments, the AU status could push your credit scores down.
That’s why designating authorized users is somewhat risky, for both the primary and additional cardholders. If the AU charges more than expected, the primary cardholder will be on the line to pay. And if the primary cardholder is irresponsible with the account, that will hurt the authorized user’s credit, rather than helping.
Note: If being an AU on another person’s account is damaging your credit, you can call the card issuer and ask to be removed from the account. The primary cardholder can also make this request on your behalf. Once your AU status is revoked, the account should be deleted from your credit reports. You can submit a dispute with the credit reporting agencies if it isn’t.
As a rule of thumb, you should only add authorized users if you trust that they’ll pay for their charges. Or, if you’re planning to foot the bill anyway, you should trust that they’ll only spend up to a certain amount. Depending on the particular card, you may be able to set spending limits for AUs.
And, on the other hand, you should only become an authorized user on someone else’s credit account if you trust that he or she will be responsible. That basically means always paying on time and keeping the credit utilization fairly low, which usually means around 30% or less. If you’re being added as an AU to an account, remember the longer the account has been open, the better the impact may be upon your credit scores.
Authorized users may have certain account management privileges, depending on the particular card issuer. You, as the primary cardholder, may be able to give or take away some permissions.
An authorized user typically can perform the following actions:
Authorized users usually cannot perform the following actions:
However, some card issuers let you give AUs more privileges, like Amex and Citi.
And Citi simply lets you choose whether or not to give your AUs access to your online account.
Authorized users generally earn spending rewards, just like primary cardholders. But all the rewards go into a single reward bank, usually only accessible by the primary cardholder.
For example, take the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review). For no annual fee, it offers 3% cash back at U.S. grocery stores, and 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and department stores .
If you designate an AU for this account, you’ll get a new card in the mail. That card will have the same exact rewards program, providing the same amount of cash back for these purchases.
You can designate many authorized users and collect a lot of rewards from their spending. This could be pretty profitable if they pay you back for what they charge.
However, introductory bonuses are not repeated for authorized users. The Blue Cash Everyday has a welcome bonus of $150 for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, but that is only available once per account.
Any purchases an AU makes will typically contribute towards the spending requirement for intro bonuses. So, you can use this method to reach minimum spends more quickly.
Although authorized users can typically make any kind of purchases, Barclays allows you to set purchase category restrictions for authorized users (at least for some Barclays cards).
Authorized users will often have access to all of the card’s benefits, but sometimes only the primary cardholder will get certain perks. This latter case is more common for high-end travel credit cards.
If any given benefit is available for use an unlimited number of times, or up to a certain limit, it will probably be available for authorized users. But some benefits can only be used once, and this will be true no matter how many authorized users you designate. There are also cases where authorized users will get partial access to certain benefits.
In general, if you have to pay for an authorized user account, it will probably get some decent benefits.
Many credit cards come with a variety of shopping and travel protections, all of which usually apply to authorized users. These include benefits like:
Benefits that may or may not be available for authorized users include:
If you’re not sure whether or not an AU will have access to a particular benefit, contact the card issuer’s customer support to ask.
If you have employees making business purchases and traveling, this is an opportunity to earn more rewards and make their lives a bit easier too.
Rather than reimbursing an employee for the purchases she makes, you can make her an authorized user on your business credit card. Or, if your card doesn’t allow authorized users, you can probably get her an employee card.
Now you’ll earn rewards for every purchase she makes with the card, providing a small discount for every expense. Certain items you buy may also be covered by benefits like Purchase Protection and Extended Warranties when eligible. Plus, you can track your business spending more easily because all the transactions will be collected within the same main account.
When it comes to travel, having a credit card can be a great asset. On the basic level, many business and travel cards come with protections like Baggage Delay Insurance, Trip Cancellation Insurance, and Auto Rental Collision Damage Waivers. These could help save quite a bit of money if something goes wrong, and they’re all the more useful if you have a lot of employees who travel often.
The higher-end travel cards offer better perks, like expedited processing at airports through Global Entry or TSA Pre✓, airport lounge access, and hotel member status. You can use these benefits to help your employees have smoother trips, and arrive in better shape when they reach their destinations. No doubt they’ll boost morale too!
When you designate someone as an authorized user you’re indicating that you trust that person, at least to a certain extent. Likewise, when you become an authorized user you’re showing that you trust the primary cardholder to use the account properly.
In general, you should have a good relationship with anyone you share a credit card account with. And if you’re going to be the authorized user, you should be sure that the primary cardholder understands how credit cards work.
Remember that personal relationships can change quickly, but legal relationships tend to be more difficult to get out of. You can always remove someone as an authorized user or cancel your own authorized user account. (Joint account holders don’t have this luxury.)
There are several cases in which it might be a good idea to designate an authorized user, or become one yourself.
You should only use one of these strategies if you’re committed to using credit cards responsibly. Otherwise, you and the authorized user could suffer with lower credit scores and all the negative consequences that result, like higher interest rates and difficulty qualifying for financing.
Maybe you’ve got the Hilton Honors Aspire Card, and you want to hook your husband up with some sweet hotel perks. You also want to be sure that you can spend $4,000 in the first three months, to get the welcome bonus of 100,000 points.
Add your husband as an authorized user, and his spending with the card will contribute towards the $4,000 requirement. He’ll also earn points whenever he uses the card, which you can use for your next trip or vacation. Team up for the win!
Be aware that in some states, spouses share legal liability for most of each other’s debts, whether both parties are named on the account or not. These are known as “common property” rules.
Want to give your kid a credit boost? Add him as an authorized user when he’s young, which will provide a big head start for establishing a credit history.
“Give my kid a credit card? Are you crazy?”
No, we aren’t suggesting you simply give your child a credit card and let him run wild. For young children, or anyone else for that matter, you don’t have to give them cards at all. You can just add them as authorized users and keep the extra card yourself, or cut it up. They’ll never have access to your line of credit, but the account will show up on their credit reports.
Or, if your children are older and have demonstrated some financial responsibility, you can give them cards of their own to use. This can make all of your lives easier, as they can just use their cards without having to borrow yours. You can also use AU status as a way to teach your kids how credit works, and how to earn excellent credit scores.
Depending on the card, you may also be able to set spending limits for authorized users, just in case. And remember that you can monitor the spending of authorized users by checking your account online, and sometimes on your mailed statements.
Of course, if you’re not a responsible credit card user, adding your child as an authorized user could be a great way to tank his credit scores before he even has a chance to establish credit in the first place.
If your business has employees that spend money or travel for work, it could be wise to add them as authorized users. This will let you earn more rewards overall as employees spend with the cards, and you’ll also provide them with some handy shopping and travel benefits.
Only add authorized users after a clear credit card policy is established and published. The policy should cover responsible use, allowed purchases, eligibility, liability, the expense tracking process, and any other particulars unique to the company.
The policy should be reviewed by legal counsel before being implemented. Monitor authorized user accounts often (perhaps weekly), and take advantage of the account management tools, such as spending limits and alerts, that are likely offered by your card issuer.
New to the U.S.? You may have a hard time building credit if you’re an immigrant who’s just beginning to open financial accounts.
But if you have some family members or a trusted friend with good credit, you can get a leg up by becoming an authorized user. Keep in mind that, for some card issuers, you may need to get a Social Security number before you can become an authorized user.
This depends on the card issuer. In most cases, authorized users will not get their own monthly billing statements. Typically, only the primary cardholder will get a bill.
The charges for the account will usually be combined on the statement, but in some cases the authorized user’s activity may be separated from the primary cardholder’s.
Authorized users may or may not have online account access — again, this depends on the issuer. Some allow online access for authorized users, while others don’t; in some cases the primary cardholder may need to grant online access to the authorized user.
Different issuers will also give authorized users different online account permissions, like being able to view statements, make payments, or change contact info. So, even though authorized users usually won’t get statements in the mail, they may be able to check those details online.
Since each card issuer has its own policy, we recommend calling customer support to learn exactly how your issuer handles authorized users, and what your options may be.
It’s very easy to remove an authorized user, or to cancel your own authorized user account.
Simply call the credit card issuer and ask to have the AU account removed. Or you can usually make the request through your online account, by selecting the option to manage your authorized user accounts.
The removal will often take effect immediately, or within a few business days. The card issuer may automatically request for the account to be removed from the credit reports of the authorized user at that time. If the issuer doesn’t ask for it to be removed (and if you’re the former authorized user), you can submit a dispute to the credit bureaus and ask for the account to be deleted.
However, if the account doesn’t have any negative history associated with it, you may not want to request for it to be removed from your reports (assuming the card issuer hasn’t already made the request). A positive, former AU account could potentially help your credit scores as long as it remains on your reports, even if you’re no longer an active authorized user.
You may want to remove an authorized user from your card if the person no longer seems trustworthy. It could be time to break the connection if you’re not sure whether or not you’ll get the money you’re owed. Or, if you’re the authorized user, perhaps you’re worried about the primary cardholder being irresponsible and making late payments.
In other situations, perhaps it’s just time to move on. Maybe a relationship ended and it’s time to move on financially as well as personally or perhaps your child is 18 and ready for his own credit card. (However, there’s nothing wrong with continuing to leave your child on as an AU if he’s trustworthy. Remember, your well-aged account might still be helping his credit scores just by appearing on his reports.)
Authorized user status is pretty easy to understand. Authorized users basically ride piggy-back on the primary account holder’s credit.
The important thing to remember is that only the primary cardholder is legally responsible for paying the credit card debt.The authorized user has no legal liability for charges at all (except for spouses living in community property states).
That’s why both the primary cardholder and the authorized user need to be focused on using credit cards responsibly. You don’t want a bad financial experience to ruin a healthy personal relationship. Be sure to keep the credit utilization low, and always make on-time payments.
You can add almost anyone as an authorized user, depending on the particular card issuer’s requirements. For the most part the card features will be shared with the AU. But be aware that some travel perks are only available once per account, or may have more limited terms for authorized users.
Becoming an authorized user is a great way to potentially build up your credit, especially if you’ve had a hard time being approved for your own credit cards or financial products. And the account will accumulate rewards more quickly, because more people will be spending and earning cash back or points.
Authorized user accounts should always be a win-win, for the primary cardholder and the AU. If the situation isn’t a win-win for both parties, it’s probably a bad idea.
Each card issuer has its own terms for the minimum age of authorized users, as well as the maximum number of AUs you can have on a single account.
|Card Issuer||Minimum Age||Maximum Number||Information|
|American Express||13 or 15, depending on card||99||FAQ and Instructions|
|Bank of America||None||9||Must Log In|
|Barclays||13||25||FAQ and Instructions (search for “authorized user”)|
|Capital One||None||Depends on account||Info and Instructions|
|Chase||None||No limit||Add an Authorized User (must log in)|
|Citi||None*||10||Add an Authorized User (must log in)|
|Discover||15||5||FAQ and Instructions|
|HSBC||None||3||Must Log In|
|U.S. Bank||16**||7||Info and Instructions|
**We’re not 100% sure about the age requirement for authorized users of U.S. Bank credit cards. We’ve heard conflicting information from different customer service reps, and we’ll update this page if we learn more.
The following instructions will guide you through adding authorized users with any of the major card issuers. Take note that, in some cases, the dashboard you see when you log in may be different than what’s shown below. But the basic steps will be the same.
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