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Can You Build Credit as an Authorized User on a Credit Card?

Last Updated: October 21, 2022
2 min read

Key Points About: Being an Authorized User on A Credit Card

  1. Authorized users have access to the primary user’s available credit but aren’t responsible for paying off charges.

  2. An authorized user’s credit score may improve if the primary user makes on-time payments and keeps the balance low.

  3. If the primary user doesn’t make their payments on time or carries a high balance, it could negatively impact the authorized user’s credit score.

If you’re looking for a way to build credit, becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account could be just what you need. There are no qualifications for becoming an authorized user, and the primary account holder can add you to their credit account in minutes. Still, this approach may not work for everyone. And while asking to be added as an authorized user might sound like a no-brainer, there are potential risks. So, let’s break it down and find out what it means to become an authorized user of a credit card.

What does it mean to be a credit card’s authorized user?

As an authorized user of a credit card, you have access to the account holder’s credit limit and can use the card to make purchases and payments. Authorized users receive their own credit card they can use to make purchases. However, the primary cardholder is responsible for making all payments toward the card’s balance.

How does being an authorized user impact your credit score?

To start building credit as an authorized user, you’ll want to confirm that your credit card issuer reports both the primary and authorized user account details to a credit bureau. Not every major credit card company does.

If the primary cardholder pays their bills on time and you both keep your credit utilization (the amount of credit in use) low that positive activity should show up on your credit report. However, if the account holder makes a late payment or misses a payment that also gets documented on the authorized user’s credit report and could negatively impact their credit score.

How old do you have to be to become an authorized user?

Typically, you must be 15 years or older to be added as an authorized user on a credit card account.

Can’t become an authorized user on a credit card?

If you don’t have someone who can add you as an authorized user, you may consider applying for a secured credit card. Secured credit cards require a deposit, which acts as your credit limit. Using a secured credit card can help with building credit, and when used responsibly, can lead to a good credit score. The Discover it® Secured Card can help you build your credit history with responsible use.1

If you’re a college student, you can start building credit with a student credit card. Many student credit cards have flexible qualifications. For example, there’s no credit score required to apply for Discover Student credit cards.2

Explore your options to find the best credit cards for you. And with good credit practices, like maintaining a positive payment history, you’ll be on your way to building strong credit.

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