Having good credit is a vital part of our financial health and our overall success in life. This one number has a huge impact on our ability to obtain a line of credit, get a mortgage, and even get a job or apartment lease. Not only that, but having a great credit score can save you tens of thousands of dollars of interest over the years. But how do you help your loved ones build credit, without hurting your own score? The answer could be adding them as an authorized user. Keep reading for info on how to help someone build credit as an authorized user.
What is an Authorized User?
An authorized user is a third party that you can add to your existing credit card account. It could be a spouse, a child, a relative, or even a close friend. There is no real requirement on the credit card provider’s end – but ultimately, the authorized user has access to your account and can spend money that will end up on YOUR credit card bill, so it’s absolutely vital that you only add authorized users that you trust 100%.
Once added as an authorized user, the individual will get their own credit card with a unique number, but it will be tied to your own account. Any purchases they make will be added to your credit card bill. Ultimately, the account holder is liable for any purchases made by authorized users, so again, it’s extremely important to only add very trusted individuals to your account.
You may wish to add someone as an authorized user on your credit card in order to help them build credit. This is a viable option, and can definitely help boost their score (particularly if they have no credit history or a very limited one).
Parents adding children as authorized users is the most common use for this credit card feature. This can be a good strategy to help your child build credit from a young age – and in fact, the child doesn’t actually need to use the credit card in order to benefit. As a parent, you could potentially hold on to the card yourself for safekeeping, and your child would still get the benefit of sharing the positive effects of your credit history.
How to Help Someone Build Credit as an Authorized User
The process of adding someone as an authorized user is quite simple, and it can potentially help them build good credit. Here’s how to help a relative build credit as an authorized user:
- Establish Trust – you will be giving this person access to your financial account, with the ability to wrack up debt that YOU are ultimately responsible for. Think long and hard before you decide if you can truly trust this person.
- Contact Your Bank – you can call in to add an authorized user to your account. You may also be able to do it online, but we recommend calling in so you can ask any questions you might have.
- Provide the Authorized User’s Information – your bank will ask for the individual’s full name and social security number, and potentially other details like address and date of birth. Have this information handy before calling in.
- Continue Using Credit Responsibly – in order to help someone build credit as an authorized user, you must use credit responsibly yourself. This means paying your bill on time, keeping a reasonable credit utilization, etc. If you yourself have poor credit habits, adding someone as an authorized user will not improve their score – and it could even damage it, in some cases!
That’s all you need to know about helping children build credit as authorized users! Leave a comment below if you have any questions.