When it comes to building up your credit score, there's only one way to do it - and that's by improving your credit report. There are many ways to do this, and most of them involve a lot of hard work, determination, and patience. Building great credit takes time, but it's well worth it in the long run. With that being said, there are a few methods for improving your credit report quicker than normal. One of these methods is by acquiring authorized user tradelines. If you're not familiar with them or don't have a clue about what an authorized user tradeline actually is, don't worry - we'll get to that in a minute. But more importantly we'll be focused on how you can become the user of this great tool at absolutely no cost, and why you should do it.

What Is An Authorized User Tradeline?

This is simple to explain, and simple to understand. First and foremost, any line of credit - whether an auto loan or a mortgage - is considered to be a tradeline. The most commonly used term is a credit line, but they're essentially the same exact thing - the former is just a bit more precise and technical and tends to be used by banks, lenders, and other financial institutions.

Secondly, being an authorized user means that the primary holder of the credit line has requested the credit issuer to add you as a legal secondary user of this line of credit. For the sake of understanding this article correctly, please know that when we talk about being an authorized user we are speaking specifically about being the secondary user of a tradeline from a credit card.

Why Would I Want To Be An Authorized User?

When you're trying to improve your credit profile (and ultimately your score), you need to understand that one of the main things credit bureaus will rely on is your history. The history of your usage, payments, and your open accounts. The more accounts you have, the older they are, the higher their limits, and the number of on-time payments that are provided to the credit bureaus is the exact information that is input into their records, organized, and then translated into a number (what you know as your credit score) using a variety of very complex and always changing algorithms.

The larger your credit report is, the better. Why? Because this gives the algorithms more data to feed from, and results in a more accurate reading of your credit worthiness. With only a card or two, or with only a couple years of history you can have a pretty good credit score. But with more time, or, with accounts showing more payments and better details, the likelihood of your score being higher greatly increases.

When you are added as an authorized user to someone's account, all of the history from that line of credit will also be reported in your name, to your credit profile. For example, if your parent or spouse makes you an authorized user on their old, high-limit credit card that's never had a late or missed payment it can work magic on your credit report. And the more of these you have, the better.

If you're wondering about whether or not the credit bureaus know you're an authorized user, the answer is yes. Even though the history of the account where you are an authorized user will appear on your credit report, the type of credit line will also be noted. This is to say, briefly, that it will appear/show that you are not the primary cardholder, but an authorized user. Nonetheless, the impact to your credit is very beneficial if your report doesn't have any existing negative remarks on it.

I Understand The Concept, But How Do I Get Someone To Actually Add Me?

Of course the simple answer is obvious - you need to ask them. The problem here is that it's not actually so simple. Credit is a powerful tool, it is personal, and it's something that many people take very seriously. When you ask someone to add you as an authorized user on their credit card, they may be extremely reluctant. In fact, they may immediately respond negatively. This is normal. They may be assuming you want to spend their money, use their credit line, and imagine all the potential problems that can arise from that. It's not unusual to think that way. Nobody wants to be held responsible for your spending habits, and nobody wants to be left paying for your purchases if you spend irresponsibly. However, with the proper approach and with a good understanding of what your goals are, there is a good chance that if they can do something to help you out, they will. So let's discuss how they can help you, and how you can talk to them about it.

Asking The Big Question

It can be anxiety inducing and you might feel embarrassed or nervous about the response you'll receive when asking someone to add you to their credit card as an authorized user. But this is why we wrote this article.

First, you really have nothing to fear. At the end of the day, if all else fails and they refuse your request, it's not the end of the world. But with some patience and as long as they're willing to at least give you a minute or two to explain yourself, you have a pretty good chance that you can achieve this.

Before you start, don't make a big deal about it. Just pop the question casually during a opportune moment. A great example would be the following:

"I wanted to talk to you about something important. I'm really trying to build my credit, I'm being responsible with my spending, and I discovered a way to really improve the speed of increasing my credit score. If I know someone - and yes, that someone is you - who has a great credit history, I can really benefit by becoming an authorized user on one of your credit cards... BUT, before you say no, or before you make a decision, let me explain something... I have zero interest or desire to actually use your card. I don't want to buy anything, and I don't even want to hold the physical card. I actually researched this, and the way it works is simple. If you make the request, the bank will send you an additional card with my name on it. It goes directly to your address. The day you get it, you can cut it into pieces and throw it directly into the garbage. There is no risk that I'll abuse or take advantage of this situation, because having the money to spend is not my goal. My goal is simply to leverage your great credit to help me build my own credit more quickly - and being an authorized user is proven to do that because authorized users get that account history added to their credit report. The card issuer will begin reporting me as a cardholder, and I'll benefit because credit bureaus will take into account the age, limit, and payment history of your card. It's not as good as having my own card with the same stats, but it's a great step forward, and I'd be forever grateful. Also, you can remove me at any time you please. Doing this has no negative affect on your credit, and it doesn't connect my credit score with your credit score, or relate our reports in any other fashion. I simply get the leverage of being a user of a well-built credit line and nothing more. The bank can verify this for you if you have any doubts. it would really help me, and again, I'd be very grateful!"

Now, that example above might be overkill. You might not have to explain so much to someone who already understand the concept. You might have a much easier time without the need for a lengthy explanation. However, it doesn't hurt to show that you have nothing but positive intentions. It this individual knows that you've been responsible with your own finances and are trustworthy, that's even better. While it may seem like you're trying to pull teeth (figuratively speaking), it's worth the effort to have this conversation with the person. After all, it can be an especially reasonable request when you make it very clear that you want nothing to do with the physical card, and agree not to spend on it. Depending who you're dealing with, this can put them at ease. The way you'll deal with the situation will depend on who your talking to and what kind of relationship you have. However, being serious and showing that you really are intent on bettering your financial future, it only makes sense that they'd be understanding.

Some people may feel like they're being manipulated. If your intentions are not genuine, we strongly discourage you to not try to become the authorized user of a friend or family member's credit card. One of our top pieces of advice for you and for the peace of mind of both parties is the agreement that you will not access or use the physical card in any way. Cutting up the card is a great way to ensure that doesn't happen. On the other hand, if it's someone who thinks it's a good idea to have their card as a backup or for emergency use only, they may decide to hand the card over to you. Beware that any expense incurred on that card on your behalf is purely the responsibility of the primary card holder, and please take that very seriously. You can arrange your own agreement with them in the situation that you become an authorized user.

What If They Say No?

We'll, at least you tried. You can always ask them to sleep on it, or consider it an talk about it at a later date. Maybe they'll want to research it for themselves before simply agreeing to it in the moment. Maybe they'll tell you know and then surprise you with the notice that they called their bank and added you. You never know!

However, if they say no and are serious in their answer, don't push them. Thank them for their time, and tell them that you'll continue working on your credit. Maybe you can ask them again at a later date, or maybe you won't want to. Some people are more than happy to do this without any resistance, and others hate to even fathom the idea of sharing their hard work. After all, as we already mentioned, credit is personal and many people prefer to keep it that way. This is something that deserves to be understood and respected.

How Else Can I Get A Tradeline?

The other option is to outright pay someone for the same exact thing. Yes, their are companies who specialize in connecting willing cardholders with complete strangers who are willing to sell their credit to people who are willing to pay. These are called tradeline companies, and a quick google search of "tradelines for sale" or "buy authorized user tradelines" will give you plenty of results. The only difference in this situation is you're not going to be receiving the favor of a family member, friend, or significant other. You'll be making a legitimate business transaction.

If you decide to take this route and buy tradelines, be sure that you do your research and purchase from a reputable and well-reviewed source. Don't bite on the cheapest or first result you find. Not everyone involved in this business lives up to their promises. Just as you research any important purchase or financial decision, you owe it to yourself to take the time to know who and what you're dealing with. You'll be spending your hard-earned money for this, and, you'll only be added as a user for a limited time. This window of opportunity is enough to see a rise in your score and take action in regards to a loan or credit approval, but far from the long-lasting effect of having a family member add you to their card which you can remain on for a very long time.

Whatever happens, and whatever you decide, please don't forget that your credit score is something to be proud of. If you can't find a shortcut to improving it, and if you can't afford to buy it, keep working hard to build it up. One day there may be someone who can benefit from your great credit (besides yourself) and you'll have the opportunity and understanding to make a difference in their financial future.

Good luck, and don't forget that hard word tends to pay off. Credit is one of the most powerful tools you'll have at your disposal in regards to finances, and you should treat it with care and respect. We wish you the best, and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to us for a bit of advice. You can also check our other information-packed blog posts for all kinds of great information about credit, financing, and the best ways to handle your credit so that it works in your favor.