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Credit Card Authorized Users, Good or Bad Idea?

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Melody Wright is a Canadian business writer living the dream in South America. After almost 3 decades of training professionals in the finance industry, she semi-retired (early) to rescue dogs and enjoy life with no winters. She lives with her husband and 70 (or so) dogs, 3 horses, ducks, and chickens on 25 gorgeous tropical acres. She writes articles on personal finance to help others retire earlier and enjoy life to the fullest.

Melody Wright
Credit Card with Authorized User

Having a credit card with an authorized user is not a decision to take lightly. It’s important to know how an authorized user account works and how it could affect your credit score.

What is an authorized user?

An authorized user is someone a primary cardholder adds to their credit card account so they can use it readily. Authorized users don’t need a credit check, but there is an age requirement. There is usually a cost associated with adding an authorized user. An authorized-user fee usually starts at $75 for cards with an annual fee. 


The person who applied for the credit card and whose name is on the agreement is the primary cardholder. They can add or remove extra cardholders and authorized users as they see fit. Also, it is their responsibility to make sure any other account users stay within their credit limit. 

The authorized user isn’t legally required to pay their part of the monthly bill. That being said, it’s a good idea if they do so they establish responsible credit habits.

What are the benefits of being an authorized user?

Credit cards with authorized user accounts save time and money because there’s only one account and bill to manage. It’s often cheaper to have an extra card than separate accounts because of lower fees.

Adding an authorized user

The person who owns the credit card has to add you to their account. They can do it online, over the phone, or through the bank’s mobile app. It’s fast and easy and takes only a few minutes. If you already have an account with the same company, it’s even quicker.

Removing an authorized user

If you’re the main account holder, you can take away authorized users whenever you want to. You can do it online, but calling might be easier. Depending on the credit issuer, authorized users might be able to take themselves off by talking to the credit card company.

Best practices for having an authorized user

To handle payments, the person who owns the account and the person who can use it should make an agreement. They can do this by having the authorized user pay the owner at the end of each month or by using a payment app like PayPal. Both people should have accounts on the app or website of the issuer to track their spending.

What happens with credit for:

Adding or authorizing a user on your account can impact your credit report, here’s how.

Primary cardholder

If someone else has permission to use your credit account, their credit history will not impact your credit score. Even so, you are responsible for paying off any debt they may accumulate under your name. If you fail to make timely payments, your credit score may suffer.

Authorized user

If someone adds you to their credit card, it can help you build or improve your credit history. It’s best to make sure they have a low credit utilization ratio. If the account owner has a history of missed payments or other bad behaviour, it won’t help you. The credit card will only show up on your credit report if the card issuer tells the credit bureaus, like Equifax or TransUnion. So if you want to build your credit, make sure to confirm this.

Pros and cons of credit card authorized users 

There are pros and cons to authorized user accounts for both parties.

Primary Cardholder

Cardholders should think carefully before adding users to their accounts. It is important to know the risks and advantages.


  • More points. Earn more points by using your card more, regardless of whether it offers cash back or airline miles.
  • Money management. It’s particularly useful for those who want to teach their children about credit and money management.


  • There is usually a fee involved.
  • The person who owns the account is responsible for all money owed, no matter who spent it.

Authorized User 

If you become an authorized user, you’ll have fewer benefits and risks than being an account owner. Make sure you think carefully before deciding.


  • Having a credit card is necessary for many things, like shopping online, renting a car, or booking a hotel room. Being an authorized user allows you to make these purchases.
  • Being an authorized user is an excellent way for young people or those new to credit to learn about finances.


  • Being an authorized user may not help build credit because the card issuer does not report to credit bureaus.
  • You can earn points, but you can’t use them.

Cost of adding an authorized user

Fees associated with adding an authorized user depend on the card issuer. To avoid surprises, it’s best to check with your credit card issuer whether adding an authorized user will incur an extra fee.

Joint account holder vs authorized user vs co-signer

Credit cards with authorized user accounts are different from co-signed or joint accounts, here’s how they differ:

Joint account holder

When two people apply for a joint credit card, both need to be able to meet the financial requirements. They will each need to have a good credit score and qualify separately. As joint account holders, they both have access. They are responsible for any transactions made by the other person.

Authorized user

The primary account holder adds the authorized user to their account. The primary account holder is the only one responsible for payments. 


Someone not eligible for a credit card can usually get one if someone else co-signs. A co-signer takes responsibility for paying the debt if the borrower can’t. The co-signer doesn’t have access to the credit card, but they are responsible for any unpaid debts. Usually, a parent, family member, or guardian is the co-signer.


Becoming an authorized user comes with many benefits, mainly convenience. It allows you to access a credit card if you need help getting your own.

As a primary cardholder adding an authorized user, it’s important to feel comfortable with and trust the person you’re adding. Adding the wrong person can mean months or years of struggling financially.

If you find yourself struggling because of credit card debt accrued by an authorized user our experts can help! Call for a free consultation today.

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