What Rights Do You Have as an Authorized User on a Credit Card?

Quick Answer

Authorized users on credit cards can make purchases, review their transaction history and dispute unauthorized charges. However, they don’t have complete access to or control over the credit card account, and they aren’t ultimately liable for the debt.

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When someone adds you as an authorized user on their credit card, you'll receive a card you can use for purchases and other transactions. You also might be able to create your own online account to review your transaction history and manage your card. However, you'll have limited access and rights because you ultimately aren't the one responsible for the account.

What Is an Authorized User?

An authorized user is a secondary account holder who gets added to an existing credit card account by the primary cardholder. The authorized user can receive a credit card with their name on it and make purchases, but the primary cardholder retains control of the credit card account and is responsible for paying the bill.

Authorized users don't need to apply, and their credit won't affect their eligibility. However, the credit card issuer may report the authorized user account to the credit bureaus, which can help them establish or build their credit.

It's a common arrangement among partners who share expenses and parents who want to give their child a credit card they can use for emergencies. Depending on the card issuer, there might not even be a minimum age requirement to become an authorized user.

Because the primary cardholder maintains ultimate control, they can remove or restrict the authorized user's access at any time. And credit card issuers also limit what authorized users can and cannot do with their account.

What Can You Do as an Authorized User?

As the authorized user on a credit card, you may be able to:

What Can't You Do as an Authorized User?

Authorized users will always have some limitations because they ultimately aren't responsible for the credit card account. Generally, card issuers don't let authorized users:

  • Become the primary cardholder
  • Change the mailing address, contact information or account PIN
  • Request a change to the credit limit or annual percentage rate (APR)
  • Add more authorized users
  • Close the account

The Gray Area: Things Authorized Users Might Be Able to Do

Some card issuers give authorized users more access and control over the account. Or, they allow the primary cardholder to give the authorized users more rights. Sometimes there will be a different designation, such as an account manager instead of an authorized user.

As a result, you might be able to:

  • Spend more than the primary cardholder allows. Some card issuers allow you to make purchases until the account's credit limit is reached. Others allow the primary cardholder to set spending limits on each authorized user.
  • Review the entire account history. You might be able to see the entire account history, including the primary cardholder's transaction and payment history.
  • Manage payments. You can generally make payments on your own, but you may need extra rights to set up autopay.
  • Redeem rewards. Your purchases earn rewards if you're an authorized user on a rewards credit card. However, only some card issuers allow the primary cardholder to give you permission to redeem rewards.

The Bottom Line

There are many reasons to become an authorized user on someone else's credit card. You might share your finances with them and want to make bills and payments from one account. Or, you might have trouble qualifying for a credit card on your own and use the authorized-user account to build your credit history and improve your credit score. But if you want to have complete control, you'll need to open a credit card of your own.

You could start by checking your credit report from Experian for free. Doing so will also grant you access to your FICO® Score if you're eligible for a credit score. If you're brand new to credit, Experian Go™ can help you establish your credit profile for free and offer tips on how credit works and what you can do to improve your credit.

You can also use your Experian account to review credit cards using Experian CreditMatch™. Search for cards that align with your goals, or let Experian match you with credit card offers based on your unique credit profile.