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

Last Updated: October 2, 2023
1 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 history, becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account could be just what you need and the primary account holder can add you to their credit account. Still, this approach may not work for everyone.

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.

Did you know?

To start building credit history as an authorized user, you’ll want to confirm that your credit card issuer allows authorized users on the credit card and that your credit card issuer reports both the primary and authorized user account details to a credit bureau. If the credit card issuer doesn’t report information about authorized users, your credit score may not be impacted.

As an authorized user on a credit card, you have access to the primary cardmember’s credit limit and can use the credit card to make purchases. Purchases made by the authorized user can also contribute to the primary cardmember’s credit card rewards. Authorized users receive a card in their name and can use it to make purchases. However, the primary cardmember is responsible for making all payments toward the card’s balance.

Being an authorized user on a credit card account could impact your credit score positively or negatively. Being an authorized user could be helpful if you’re trying to build credit history for the first time or rebuild your credit history. If the account holder makes a late payment or misses a payment, that could also be documented on the authorized user’s credit report which could negatively impact credit score.

Typically, authorized users can build credit. Authorized users can often build credit history even if they don’t use their credit card, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It’s a good idea to check with your credit card issuer and the credit bureaus that your card issuer reports to. Find out their protocol for reporting about authorized users so you know what to expect since it can vary from one credit card company or credit bureau to another.

For Discover credit cards, you must be 15 years or older to be added as an authorized user on a credit card account. Check the terms and conditions for your card issuer to determine age requirements for authorized users.

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 history, and when used responsibly, can lead to a good credit history. The Discover it® Secured Credit Card helps you build your credit history.1 If you’re a college student, you can start building credit history with a student credit card. Many student credit cards have flexible qualifications. For example, there’s no credit score required to apply for a Discover it® Student credit card.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

If you’re considering becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account, make sure it’s someone you trust who uses credit responsibly. Since their credit habits could impact your credit score, it may be a good idea to check in about responsible credit card use before signing up to be an authorized user on their credit card account.

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  1. Build Credit History: Discover reports your credit history to the three major credit bureaus so it can help build your credit if used responsibly. Late payments, delinquencies or other derogatory activity with your credit card accounts and loans may adversely impact your ability to build credit.
  2. Student - No Credit Score Required : Based on the preceding 12 months of Discover Student credit card application data, applicants without a credit score may qualify. You must meet other applicable underwriting criteria. When we evaluate your creditworthiness, we consider all the information you provide on your application, your credit report, and other information. If you have a credit score, we may use that in our evaluation.

  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.