FinMasters content is free. When you purchase through referral links on our site, we earn a commission. Learn More

Summary: Introducing the authorized user strategy, a simple, free trick that can give your credit a giant boost fast!

If you’re trying to establish or rebuild your credit, it can seem like a lot of work.

Between checking your scores, your credit reports, and disputing the errors, there’s no wonder some people don’t bother.

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?!

It’s a lesser-known credit building strategy commonly known as the authorized user strategy.  We like to call it the “borrow-a-kidney” strategy.

Here’s what you need to know about the strategy, and how to do it step-by-step.

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 to 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 “borrow-a-kidney strategy.”  It’s also commonly known 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 Authorizes 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 5 years or more
  • Large limit – A bigger credit limit will benefit you more
  • Excellent payment history – They haven’t been late on any payments, and the account is in good standing

Quick Tip: Don’t have a friend or family member with an established card? Or they won’t add you? Tradelines allows you to buy your way into an authorized user position on a great credit card.

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.

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 if they’ll 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:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number

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 they report. 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 warm fuzzies to hear their account rep tell them there is no risk unless you make charges to the card.  
  • Does the card have a good credit history? – Ask if there are any instances of late payments that have been reported to the credit bureaus. If not, you’re good.

Does Adding an Authorized User Really Work?

Yes, we have research as well as case studies suggesting that the authorized user strategy works.

Did you know we actually conducted a nationwide survey on the authorized user effect?

In the survey, 46% of our respondents who had been added as an authorized user 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,” but we’ve also seen it work for people with bad credit.

☝️ Please also note it will not improve the user’s credit score if you add a family member to your Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, or ESPN account.  That’s just a plain old “user” who is not tied financially to your account.  We’re talking about getting added to tradelines such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Capital One, or Amex Platinum.

How Long Does It Take for an Authorized User to Show on Credit Report?

Every credit card is different in the way it reports but expect it to take at least 30 to 60 days from the time you get added to the card or tradeline.

What Are the Best Authorized User Credit Cards?

To answer this one, we got the inside scoop from one of Credit Knocks’ partners, Tradeline Supply Company. Tradeline Supply offers authorized user tradelines for sale.  

(Not everyone has a relative with a high limit and a well-established credit card!)

Tradeline Supply Co places people on the best credit cards every day.  And they know that some tradeline companies place you with banks that don’t report to the credit bureaus, which means their credit file posting success is low. 

Tradeline Supply Co only uses the cards that actually report your user status to the credit bureaus.

According to Tradeline Supply Company, best authorized user credit cards are:

  • Barclays
  • Chase
  • Chase Sapphire
  • Capital One
  • Discover

☝️ Remember, the “best card” is not necessarily mean the credit card issuer.  You also want it to have a solid payment history, high credit limit, and been open for several years, if possible.

⚠️ You also need to avoid buying placement on a card/tradeline from a CPN. This is illegal and will not work to increase your credit.

Why Authorized User Works

Getting added as an authorized user to a new credit card helps your credit score for at least three reasons:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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%!

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, age of credit, and increase your credit utilization.

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!