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You might try being an authorized user on a friend’s credit card to build credit. Or, you want to gain access to a card you currently don’t qualify for or avoid the annual fee. However, it’s important to know which credit card companies report authorized users. Knowing helps you understand how being an authorized user affects future credit decisions.
How Do Credit Card Companies Report Authorized Users?
Most travel credit card companies report to the Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion credit bureaus that you are an authorized user. However, some only report to two of the bureaus.
The national credit card issuers that report authorized users to at least one bureau include:
- American Express
- Bank of America
- Capital One authorized users (only reports spousal accounts)
- Credit One (only reports spousal accounts)
- US Bank
- Wells Fargo*
Note: Reader feedback form April 2021 indicates that Wells Fargo may no longer report authorized users.
Regional banks and credits unions may be less likely to report authorized user tradelines on the credit report. Store charge cards reporting can also vary as it depends on the bank. If you are looking at a card from a mid-size or small bank, you should contact that bank before applying.
Is a Social Security Number Required?
Some banks may ask for an authorized user’s Social Security number. If so, the payment activity and being added as an authorized user will most likely report to the credit bureaus.
When the bank only requests the secondary user’s name and home address, there is a chance the account will not list on a credit bureau’s credit report. In most cases, the information will report if the home address matches the address on record with the credit bureau.
Minimum Reporting Age
Each bank has its own reporting policies. For example, some banks only report spousal accounts or children accounts once they reach a certain age like being 15 years or 18 years old. Some banks require the authorized user to be a minimum age before reporting to the credit bureau:
- American Express: At least 15 years old
- Barclays: At least 16 years old
- Discover: At least 15 years old
- Wells Fargo cards: At least 18 years old
Assume that most banks report monthly activity for all authorized users. If you are old enough to get an authorized user credit card, the account is on your credit report. You should also assume the activity is reported if you have the same home address as the primary cardholder.
Only Positive History Reported
Some banks only report payment activity when the card account is in good standing but not when the card is delinquent. Although most banks report both positive and negative credit events. You will want to monitor your credit score monthly to avoid unnecessary score drops.
One bank that might not report activity when the primary account is delinquent is US Bank.
Credit bureaus may also choose not to report negative credit card information. Experian states they don’t report negative payment history. Various online sources indicate that Equifax and TransUnion report positive and negative payment history.
What the Credit Card Companies Report About Authorized Users
Authorized users are not required to pay the monthly balance if the primary cardholder doesn’t. However, certain events can impact an authorized user’s credit score.
Most credit card companies report on-time and negative payment histories to the credit bureaus. On-time payments can improve the score. But late payments can drop the authorized user’s credit score.
High Credit Utilization Ratio
Even if the primary user pays their balance in full every month, using more than 30% of the card’s credit limit can have a negative effect. Banks and credit bureaus most likely won’t overlook this credit factor. As an authorized user, try to be added to the card with the highest credit limit and oldest account age.
Average Age of Accounts
Probably the best advantage of being an authorized user is being added to an old account. Even if you have no credit history, most banks give you credit for the credit card’s total age.
For example, being added to a card open for at least 10 years implies that you have been on that tradeline for 10 years. One exception to this rule is American Express credit cards which reports the actual day you were added as an authorized user.
Being listed on a personal account that’s less than 24 months old can hurt your approval odds for near-future credit card applications. For example, Chase credit cards is known for only approving applications when you have added 4 or less credit card accounts to your report in the most recent 24 months.
Personal or Business Credit Card?
Being reported as an authorized user on a small business credit card shouldn’t affect your personal credit score. These accounts may still appear on your credit report even though they do not affect your score or credit application decisions.
If your credit application is denied because of too many new accounts, you should see if your additional employee cards are included. If so, you can call the credit card company reconsideration line and possibly reverse the initial decision.
Secured Credit Cards and Student Credit Cards
You cannot add authorized users to secured credit cards or student credit cards. Because these cards have low credit limits, they are a less-risky way to build credit. Only making small purchases and paying your balance in full each month are the best way to maximize these card options. These two types of credit cards can improve your credit score quicker than being an authorized user on another credit card.
Remove an Authorized User
If you want to apply for your own credit card or no longer belong to a card with a negative history, you can stop being an authorized user. Most banks let authorized users remove themselves from the account. The primary cardholder can also remove you their account.
Making this move can possibly give your score an immediate boost once the tradeline is no longer on your credit report.
Summary on Bank’s Reporting Authorized Users
There are many times when it’s good that banks report authorized users accounts to the credit bureaus. If you get a credit card from any national bank, your account information automatically populates. You should always make sure the account remains in good standing to makes sure being an authorized user doesn’t start to hurt your credit score.