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What Is a Cosigner?

Published December 22, 2022
3 min read

Key points about: Credit card cosigners

  1. A cosigner on a credit card application may improve your chances to be approved.

  2. A cosigner takes full responsibility for paying back a loan if the primary borrower doesn’t pay the debt.

  3. Most major credit card issuers don’t allow cosigners but do allow adding an authorized user to an account.

If you’re applying for a credit card for the first time, or you’re trying to rebuild your credit, you may have difficulty being approved. Some borrowers may have the opportunity to be approved for a credit card if they have a cosigner. What is a cosigner, and how can you get someone to become a credit card cosigner for you?

What is a cosigner on a credit card?

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a cosigner is someone who takes full responsibility to pay back a loan if the primary borrower does not.

If the borrower doesn’t pay, the cosigner is obligated to pay any missed payments or even the full amount of the loan.

Can a cosigner help you?

One advantage to having a cosigner is that it may improve your chances to get approved for a credit card. This is because a cosigner will be someone with good income and credit who takes the responsibility of paying your credit card debt if you default.

Because the cosigner has established credit and income, it could also mean the borrower gets more favorable terms, like a lower interest rate.

Getting a credit card could allow someone with no credit to build their credit history, or someone with poor credit to improve their credit score by using the card responsibly.

Disadvantages of being a cosigner

Becoming a cosigner comes with some risks. If the borrower makes a late payment or fails to make payments, the cosigner is not only responsible for the amount owed, but their credit could be hurt if the issuer reports the delinquency to the credit bureaus.

Another issue is that the cosigner may have difficulty getting their own new line of credit in the future. That’s because a lender may think the cosigner’s debt level is too high. And if the cosigner wishes to remove themselves from the account, it’s often difficult.

Do all credit card issuers allow cosigners?

No. In fact, most major credit card issuers don’t allow cosigners. Discover does not permit cosigners for credit cards. However, if you’re looking to get a credit card, there are many options available instead of finding a cosigner.

Getting a credit card without a cosigner

Even if you can’t get a cosigner, there are numerous options to help you get a credit card.

  • Get a Secured Credit Card. If you’re looking for your own credit card, getting a Discover it® Secured credit card may be a good option. A secured credit card can help you build or rebuild your credit when used responsibly.
  • Become an Authorized User. Another alternative is to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account. Authorized users get their own credit card with their name on it, but the primary account holder is the one responsible for the bill. Being an authorized user can help you build or rebuild credit because most major credit card issuers report the activity of authorized users to the main credit bureaus.

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