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Authorized User Accounts & Your Credit Score?

November 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Blogs, Credit Score

authorized user accountsIndividuals who are Authorized Users on credit cards are credit card holders who have the ability to use a particular credit card, but are not legally liable for the credit card debt.For example, adding your son as an authorized user on your credit card will help him establish a credit history because the account (including the payment history) will report on his credit report.

An Authorized User has the ability to use a credit card for purchases just as the primary account holder, but without any of the financial liability or responsibility. Only add someone you can trust since they will have access to your credit card account. As a precaution, when adding an authorized user on your credit card, consider lowering credit limit on that particular account. One of the most common reasons for adding authorized users is to give children credit cards which they can use for emergencies.

Authorized user accounts are a great option for people who are in the process of building or rebuilding their credit history. A good authorized user account will help boost the credit score of the person who is being added to the account. Keep in mind, although the FICO algorithm recognizes authorized user accounts when calculating the credit score, a lender may or may not take the actual trade-line into account when making lending decision. As a result some individuals will still see a benefit from authorized user accounts while others will not.


Piggybacking is a for-profit form of “credit renting”, a growing practice that allows people with bad credit to piggyback on the strong payment histories of certain credit card holders by becoming authorized users on their accounts.A person with no credit score or a low credit score pays a fee to another individual to become an authorized user on an account with a perfect payment history, good utilization rate, and long length of history. The payment given to the person allowing the piggybacking on his or her credit history depends on the quality of the trade-line itself.

With the newly improved score, the consumer is now able to obtain a lower interest rate on mortgages, car loans, or personal loans.
The impact on a credit score can vary depending on what else is in a client’s report, but one borrowed credit card account can increase a score between 30 to 45 points, two accounts can increase a score anywhere from 60 to 90 points, and five authorized user accounts can boost your credit score between 150 to 205 points.

This is because the credit scoring model that calculates credit scores is essentially tricked into believing the credit renter has a better repayment history when it sees the added accounts, and that helps increase the credit score.  So what was once considered something parents could use to help their kids get started with credit or a mechanism that a spouse could use to help their significant other boost their credit scores, is now being scrutinized as credit piggybacking.

Today’s practice of credit piggybacking is a loophole in the system. FICO has already tried to remove the authorized user loophole once (see FICO ’08), but was forced to keep the authorized user component of their algorithm in place. Have no doubts about one thing, if FICO and the credit bureaus had it their way, this loophole would completely gone.


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