Summary: Introducing the authorized user strategy: a simple, free trick that can give your credit a quick boost!
You can’t build credit without using credit. You also have to get credit before you can use it, and it’s hard to get credit with no credit score!
But what if I told you there’s ONE thing you can do to boost your credit fast, that won’t take you longer than 5 minutes and does not require a credit score?!
It’s a credit-building strategy commonly known as the authorized user strategy.
Here’s what you need to know about the strategy and a step-by-step guide to how to implement it.
What is the Authorized User Strategy?
Here’s the strategy in a nutshell:
You simply ask a friend or family member who has an established credit card with solid payment history to add you as an authorized user to their card.
Your credit report will adopt the card’s payment history, usually resulting in a quick credit score boost for you!
In other words, the payment history of the cardholder becomes YOUR payment history, and you get credit for potentially years of on-time payments.
Quick Note: We sometimes refer to the authorized user strategy as the “piggyback strategy,” since you’re piggybacking on the credit history of a friend or relative.
3 Easy Steps to Be Added as an Authorized User
Here’s how to be added as an authorized user in three easy steps.
Step 1: Find a Friend or a Family Member
Identify your friend or family member with the best credit card for the authorized user strategy.
You want to ask your friends and family members if they use credit cards and if they have any long-standing accounts.
Here’s the ideal account:
- Long-standing Account – Preferably the account has been open for 5 years or more.
- Large credit limit – A bigger credit limit will benefit you more.
- Low balance – a high limit and a low balance mean a good credit utilization ratio, an important component of your credit score.
- Excellent payment history – They haven’t been late on any payments, and the account is in good standing
Step 2: Ask Them to Help You Out
Ask if they’d be willing to do you a big favor and promise them it will be quick, and won’t cost them any money.
Now you need to convince your friend or family member to add you as a user.
Note there is very little risk to them as long as you don’t get a credit card and start making charges.
To ensure that doesn’t happen, tell your new credit partner to request that the card be sent to their address rather than yours. If they have the card, you can’t use it!
Also, assure them that their payment history will be reported to your credit report, but your credit will not in any way be reported to their credit. This is Legit!!
If they need more convincing, ask them to call their credit card company. Most reps will have heard of this and done it a hundred times and will speak highly of the strategy to help out a friend or family member as a completely legitimate way to help them grow their credit.
Quick Tip: Calm your relative’s mind by assuring them you won’t actually have a card or make charges. To ensure this, you can have your card sent to THEIR address.
You can also direct them to dozens of articles online from reputable sources like Credit Karma, Wells Fargo, and Nerd Wallet on the strategy if you just google “authorized user strategy.”
Also, assure them they can easily call to remove you as an authorized user if anything does not go as planned, and your credit card will immediately be deactivated.
Step 3: Ask Them to Add You as an Authorized User
Ask your relative or friend to call their credit card company and add you as an authorized user.
All it takes is a 2-minute phone call.
Your relative needs to call their credit card company and request they add you as an authorized user to the account. They will need your:
- Date of birth
- Social security number
The process is generally fast and easy.
For BEST Results:
If you could have the cardholder inquire about the following when they call, this will ensure the best results.
The credit card account should pass the following criteria, or the authorized user strategy may have less impact on your credit:
- Must report Authorized Users to credit bureaus – Ask if the credit card issuer reports authorized user details to the credit bureaus. Not all do, which would waste your time. (If they need your SSN to add you as a user, they most likely do.)
- Ensure the Authorized User’s credit history will NOT be reported on the primary cardholder’s account. This will give the cardholder the confidence of hearing their account rep tell them there is no risk unless you make charges on the card.
- Does the card have a good credit history? – Ask if there are any instances of late payments or high credit utilization that have been reported to the credit bureaus. If not, you’re good.
Does Adding an Authorized User Really Work?
Research as well as case studies suggest that the authorized user strategy works.
We actually conducted a nationwide survey on the authorized user effect.
In the survey, 46% of our respondents who were added as authorized users had a credit score of 680 or higher. Compare that to just 27% of respondents who had a credit score of 680 or higher who had not been added.
We also have experiential evidence.
When I called to add my brother, Mark, to my Chase credit card, he quickly added over 100 points to his credit score in less than 2 months.
He documented the results. He got a:
- 16-point increase immediately
- 131 points increase the following month (other factors contributed too)
Another authorized user told us she went from zero to a 710 credit score in less than a month.
And not to mention, we’ve read about a thousand reviews online from people who got added to cards and their credit went up.
Yes, it’s possible to increase your score in as little as 30 to 60 days.
Again, you can also google the authorized user strategy, and find hundreds of articles and testimonials supporting the strategy.
The strategy works best for people with no credit and people who are new to credit or have a thin credit file, but we’ve also seen it work for people with bad credit.
How Long Does It Take for an Authorized User to Show on a Credit Report?
Every credit card reports differently but you can expect the account to appear on your credit report 30 to 60 days from the time you get added to the card or tradeline.
What Are the Best Authorized User Credit Cards?
According to credit card experts, the best credit cards for the authorized user strategy are:
- Chase (particularly the Chase Sapphire card)
- Capital One
☝️ Remember, the “best card” is not necessarily mean the credit card issuer. You also want it to have a solid payment history, a high credit limit, and a history of several years, if possible.
Why the Authorized User Strategy Works
Getting added as an authorized user to a new credit card helps your credit score for at least three reasons:
- You inherit the card’s payment history. If the card has an excellent history of on-time payments, that all gets reported to YOUR credit report and helps YOUR payment history.
- You inherit the card’s age of credit. Another important component of your credit score is the age of your credit accounts. If the new card has been active for several years, this is a big help.
- Boosts your credit limit and credit utilization – Say you have a $1,000 limit on your credit card with a $200 balance. That gives you a credit utilization of 20%. Then say you get added to a card with a $10,000 limit and balance of $500. You adopt the credit limit, so now you have an $11,000 limit with a balance of $700, giving you a much lower credit utilization rate of just 6%!
A 6% credit utilization is MUCH better for your credit score than a 20%!
Becoming an authorized user can boost your credit, but the strategy has limits. Creditors that do a hard credit check will know that you are not the one managing the account, and that may affect their decisions.
Here’s the breakdown of the components of your credit score:
Where the Authorized User Strategy Came From
A while back, women had a big financial problem…
When they married, their husbands opened up credit cards in their own names only, without adding their wives as authorized users on the cards.
Perhaps years would go by, with no impact on the wives, until some of those marriages ended in divorce.
At that time, the women realized even though they’d been using credit cards for years, they had NO credit history.
So the authorized user strategy was created to easily be able to add a family member to your card so they could share in your credit history.
But it works for any friend or family member… not just spouses.
Conclusion: Take Action!
The authorized user strategy is an excellent way to establish a payment history, build the age of your credit accounts, and increase your credit utilization. All of those will help you boost your credit score.
Follow the 3 steps above to get a relative to add you as an authorized user, or if you don’t have one, pay someone to add you here!