The Pros and Cons of Being an Authorized User on a Credit Card

by Natasha Gabrielle | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on March 2, 2021

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
Three women shopping, one holding a credit card

Image source: Getty Images

Having friends has its perks, especially if that friend lets you be an authorized user on their credit card.

If you're thinking of asking someone you trust to be added as an authorized user on one of their cards, it's important to know what you're getting into with this decision. Instead of getting your own credit card, you may be thinking of taking this step so that you have access to a card when you need it. There are advantages and disadvantages to being an authorized user. Keep reading to learn the pros and cons of being an authorized user on a credit card.

What is an authorized user?

An authorized user is someone who has permission to use a credit card account. While they're legally able to use the credit card, they're not responsible for paying off the credit card debt. Most top credit card issuers allow their cardholders to add an authorized user to their account.

Can anyone be added as an authorized user?

Most credit card issuers have age requirements in place for authorized users. Other than that, there aren't restrictions.

The pros of being an authorized user

Being an authorized user on a credit card has its advantages:

  • This can help build credit. For someone with little or no credit, being added as an authorized user can help them build a good credit score. That's because many credit card companies report the history of the account on an authorized user's credit report. This can be helpful in the future when you attempt to open your own credit card account.
  • It gives a person access to a credit card. With poor credit history or a bad credit score, it can be challenging to get a credit card. Being added as an authorized user can give you access to a credit card, which can be especially helpful during an emergency.
  • You can learn how to manage money. Being an authorized user is a great way to learn how to manage money better. You can learn how to make smart financial decisions before opening your own credit account.

The cons of being an authorized user

Here's what you need to look out for:

  • The account holder's actions can negatively impact your credit. If the credit cardholder misses payments or racks up a lot of debt on the card, it could negatively impact your credit. Before being added as an authorized user, it's a smart idea to consider whether the credit cardholder is financially responsible.
  • They can remove you at any time. The credit cardholder can remove you as an authorized user at any time. When this happens, that account will no longer appear on your credit report. This is something to consider if you want to build your credit.
  • It could cause relationship issues. If you and the cardholder disagree about which charges you've made or how much you owe them, this could cause added stress and could lead to relationship issues. Consider setting clear boundaries and ways to track purchases made so that you minimize disagreements or confusion.

The bottom line

Being added as an authorized user may be a good option for you. But, you need to be well aware of the positives and negatives. Talk with someone you trust about this opportunity and outline expectations and rules. Then you can both decide if it's the right move to make.

Top credit card wipes out interest until 2023

If you have credit card debt, transferring it to this top balance transfer card secures you a 0% intro APR into 2023! Plus, you'll pay no annual fee. Those are just a few reasons why our experts rate this card as a top pick to help get control of your debt. Read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

About the Author