Authorized users get a credit card from their spouse or family member with permission to use the card. Authorized-use credit cards become a common issue when you get hitched. You share existing lines of credit to make household purchases. These secondary users get the benefit of being added to a line of credit without the hassle of being approved for the card. Before signing up for a secondary card, you need to understand how it affects your credit.
Some credit card companies report authorized users as card holders on their credit report. The account shows up as if it belonged to you. This policy affects your credit score depending on payment history. A good payment history of no late payments raises your credit score. Adding a secondary card on an account with a history of late payments may lower your credit score.
When the account appears on your credit report, the total credit line shows up in the account details. Part of your credit score is based on your credit utilization, which is determined by comparing your balance to your total available credit line. Credit reporting agencies assume that maxing out your credit cards means you are a credit risk. Carrying a large balance on your credit cards raises your total utilization percentage and lowers your credit score. Users with optimal credit scores carry little to no balance on their credit cards, keeping their utilization percentage between zero and 25 percent.
Adding a new credit card account as an authorized user to your report affects your average account age. When the credit card age spans many years, this positively affects your credit score. It appears as though you’ve had this credit card for many years and gives you a longer credit history. When it’s a newer account, it could negatively affect your credit score, which can get dinged by opening a new account.
Liability is one of the positive aspects of being an authorized user on a credit card. You are given access to a credit card for use but are not liable for the bill. You didn’t sign an agreement with the credit card issuer, and therefore you are not responsible for paying back the debt. On the other side of that coin, you do have a moral responsibility to use the credit card responsibly and not rack up a ton of debt in someone else's name. You also maintain the right to request removal of all negative information from your credit report should you no longer wish to be an authorized user.
Leigh Thompson began writing in 2007 and specializes in creating content for websites. She has been published online in various capacities. Thompson has an associate degree in information technology from the University of Kansas and is working on a bachelor's degree in business and personal finance.