You have several options to share your credit card with another person. In most cases, you may add him or her as an authorized user in your existing accounts, or you can open a new joint credit card account.
On the other hand, do you recall signing an application with a friend or family member? Did you give your income or credit information? If any of these situations seem to be familiar, you probably co-signed on the account and are a joint account cardholder. On the other hand, if someone just handed you the card you’re more likely an authorized user.
To know the matter clearly, you can contact the credit card company and get the information. Another way is to pull your credit report and go through it properly.
- If the letter “A” appears next to the account information, you’re an authorized user.
- If it shows a “J”, it’s a jointly held account, and multiple people may have co-signed for the card.
- An “I” denotes an individually held account, as you are the only owner.
Now let us know the benefits and drawbacks of each option.
a) Authorized credit card user
You might add any person as an authorized user on your account. The person may be your friend or family or just a roommate. It is likely that you’ll split expenses with that person and give permission to buy things using your credit card.
This person will be called an authorized user; you can add such an user in an existing credit card account.
Here are a few things you need to focus when adding an authorized user to your account:
1. You’re responsible for paying the bill
Remember, as the principal cardholder, legally you’re responsible solely for any debt accrued on the account.
Due to any circumstances, if an authorized user denies to be listed on your account, the person can practically remove himself from the account by informing the creditor through an application.
But you don’t have that chance at all. You’ll have to bear the debt burden and potentially, a ruined credit score, if that authorized user misuses your card.
Keep this in mind before adding any person as an authorized user to your account. Add those people whom you really trust.
2. You can boost partner’s credit without any harm
If your credit score is higher than your authorized user, his/her score will also get a boost at the time you add him/her with you. Your credit card issuer must also report the authorized user activity to the credit bureaus.
Due to this benefit, initially parents add their children as authorized users so that they get help to build good credit.
There is another benefit worth to mention.
Some credit card issuers only report positive authorized user activities to the credit bureaus.
So, if you forget to pay a bill, you won’t necessarily harm someone else’s credit. It’s crucial to read your card issuer’s rules and regulations regarding authorized user activity.
Generally, your kids need to be at least 16 to be considered as an authorized user. But, there are some exceptions to this rule.
For example, American Express and Discover both require authorized users to be 15, Barclays require 13, and few others like Bank of America/Capital One/Chase/Citi don’t have such criteria.
If you decide to add any authorized user, first discuss credit card basics with them and set up few guidelines for using the credit card.
3. You can add up extra income while applying individually
Because of the revision to the Credit CARD Act in 2010, you can list all your income including your partner’s at the time of applying a credit card, whether or not you decide to share that credit account.
b) Joint cardholders
Practically, opening a joint credit card account with your family member or friend is not a wise decision.
A joint account holder is a person who also owns and can manage your bank account. There is no restriction between the joint account holders for making any financial decision on that account.
A joint account is used to refer to bank accounts than credit cards. Joint account holders are equally responsible for paying the bills. Both original account holder and the joint account holder will be liable for mishandling the account and drop of their credit score.
It is because in the long term , you won’t be managing your expenses together.
Apart from that, if your family member or friend is under 21, it would be a bit risky for you. But if you and your partner decide to handle your finances together, this could be a great way to go.
In most cases, both you and your partner may have to apply for a new credit card together to get a joint account.
Here are few things you need to think about before opening an account with someone:
1. You both need to pay bills
With a joint credit card, you and your partner both are responsible for paying the debts on that account. If you both spend carefully, you can build good credit scores.
On the other hand, if you both miss any payment or overspend, your credit score will get a blow.
Don’t forget to communicate about your account balance and payment history so that both of you can avoid making costly mistakes.
2. Your credit score may hamper if your relationship changes
If you and the joint cardholder have a complex relationship, or if you both choose to stop handling money combinedly, you’ll likely have to close the account.
This may decrease the average time frame of your accounts and lower your credit scores.
If any one of you dies, you’ll be responsible for paying off the unpaid debts.
This doesn’t mean that you avoid opening a joint credit card, but you might consider to keep your balance low so that all of a sudden you won’t be left alone to pay off a large debt.
3. Your credit card issuer may have stopped the service
You might be out of luck due to certain issues created by card providers .
- In 2013, Chase stopped joint account offerings to simplify their services.
- Capital One scrapped its joint cardholder services 10 years ago.
- American Express never offered it to consumers at all.
It may be possible that if you request your credit card company to add a joint cardholder, they might assume it as a request to include an authorized user.
So you may need to verify whether the credit card company offers joint credit cards at all before applying for one.
If you can manage your money well enough with your partner, friend or relative, you’ll definitely have less problems due to sharing the credit. Both of you will come out with flying colors because of your good spending habits.
But If things go wrong , and you share credit with an authorized user, he or she may be less affected; whereas joint cardholders will get a blow on their credit scores.
That’s why it’s important to keep the conversation about credit going, no matter who you decide to share credit with. With trust and communication, you can boost your credit scores together and earn more rewards.