Whether you've just started on your journey to building up credit or have year of experience but need to raise your credit score quickly and easily, there is one tried and true method that can and will work wonders for you - becoming an authorized user on someone else's credit card.

Unlike a joint bank account, becoming an authorized user doesn't mean you'll share finances with someone. In fact, you're not even responsible for the account in any way. What it does mean is that your credit report will show the extra line of credit (also known as an authorized user tradeline) which if old enough, strong enough, and with a high credit limit will drastically raise your credit score.

The best way to accomplish this task is by asking a trusted family member, partner, spouse, or friend with great credit to add you as an authorized user on their best credit card. By best, we mean a card that has a perfect or near perfect payment history, a high limit (the higher the better), and an old account age (the older the better). As an example, you would not want to be added to a card with a $2000 limit that has been open for only a year or two and has a couple late payments because that's not going to help you. Instead, the ideal card would have a limit that exceeds any limit you may have on your card(s) and have an account history of at least 5 years, or older than the combined history of any credit cards you already hold.

How To Get It Done

What you would need to explain and understand to this person is that by adding you to their account, they're going to help you build your credit in a positive way, because the credit bureaus will report you as a user on this card and it will improve your credit score. Since the cardholder will be 100% responsible for any charges or usage on the card, you might want to explain to them that when they add you, they will be sent an extra card in your name. Tell them that you don't need or want the card, and you have no actual intentions of using it. They can keep it, or cut it in half and throw it in the garbage. It's not necessary for you to know or have the card number, and this will prevent you from actually using it. If the person trusts you and understands the concept of what you're trying to achieve and that there is no risk involved, they just might decide to add you to their account.

What You Need To Know Beforehand

Now, it's important to understand a few things here. If you're very new to credit and have a single credit card that's less than a year old, being added to a card with a high limit and old age will cause a major increase to your credit score. The exact number and impact is unknown, but you can be sure it'll help. On the other hand, if you have bad credit because of debts, collections or because you failed to pay your own cards on time, becoming an authorized user will not fix that. In addition, if you have several cards with an average age of 3 or 4 years and a total credit limit of $10k, you'll need to become the user of a card that strongly exceeds those numbers to cause any real difference.

The average age of your credit cards is determined by adding the age of each card, then dividing it by the number of cards you have. As a quick example, 5 cards which each have a history of 2 years is 10 years total, divided by 5. That clearly puts your average age of credit at 2 years. A second example is having two cards, one of which has an age of 4 years and the other with an age of 1 year - that's 5 years total divided by 2, which leaves you with an average credit age of 2.5 years. As you can see, it's quite simple to understand.

Speaking about the limit, or the combined total of your credit, this is not averaged to determine your credit score. Instead, the combined total is shown as your total credit limit. To show this in an example, if you have 3 cards with $5k limits, your credit report would show that you have a total credit line of $15k. Adding another $5k card will not do you much good, unless the card had an age of maybe 25 years. At that point it's expected that the age of the 25 year old card will at least pull your average credit age up quite a bit.

In a perfect world, you will want a high-limit card with a perfect history that's as old as possible. Often, and depending on your age, this will come from a parent or an older relative like an aunt, uncle, or even a grandparent. If their credit is great, it's probably because they have a great history of being a responsible user. If they're willing to share their hard work with you in an effort to improve your credit score and your financial future at absolutely no cost, consider it a blessing.

The fact may be, however, that you don't have someone with that type of history, or, if you do, they may not be very likely to share it. In fact, you might not find anyone who even has the type of card that would benefit you - regardless of if they'd be willing to help you or not.

If You Can't Do It For Free, Help Is Available

Surprisingly enough, you can also purchase the status of an authorized user. There are several trustworthy and reliable companies who specialize in exactly this, and you can generally find them using a quick google search of "tradelines for sale" or "tradeline companies". While not every tradeline company is equal or reliable, it's not too hard to discern who can help you out in your effort to grow your credit profile and improve your financial future. The one thing to keep in mind is that they're not free, and, they only stay on your credit report for a specific amount of time - just long enough to help you take the action required to get the loan, credit card, or mortgage that you're trying to be approved for.

If you don't know much about authorized user tradelines or how they function, it's best to contact the company and ask questions before making a purchase. Also, a great piece of advice is don't be convinced to buy something you're not sure about. One great way to protect yourself is by reading our guide. It's complete and comprehensive, and you can learn everything there is to know before making the decision to buy tradelines. In addition, you can jump to any specific section in the article that you need thanks to the helpful table of contents.

Looking for more personalized service or specific questions? Reach out to GFS Group today and our expert team will gladly assist you in understanding why you might need tradelines, and which ones are the best fit for your particular credit profile.