Some parents want to give their child’s credit history a boost before they reach adulthood by adding them as an authorized user to their credit cards. But before adding a child to your card, you need to familiarize yourself with the rules of the card issuer.
At the right age, adding your child as an authorized user can help them get credit, provide access to funds in an emergency, and offer lessons on responsible account use, says Brett Sember, author of The Complete Credit Recovery Kit.
“They will use credit for the rest of their lives, so it makes sense that you, as a parent, should teach them how to use credit wisely from an early age,” she says.
Can I add a minor or child as an authorized user?
Most major card issuers allow you to add a minor as an authorized user. Some issuers set a minimum age and others do not, but some cards generally prohibit cardholders from adding minors.
Whether you can add your child to your card as an authorized user depends on age. Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citibank have no minimum age requirements for adding authorized users to credit card accounts.
While some parents may be tempted to place a newborn on their best credit card as an authorized user, there is no need to rush to have an 18-year credit history before applying for your own line of credit.
Firstly, this is not necessary, because a few years is enough time for a child to develop a credit history and an excellent score. Also, adding a child too early can backfire. If you run into financial difficulties and stop making payments on this card, and as a result your credit runs out, your child’s credit will also suffer if you don’t remove him from the card.
|Are minors allowed?||Minimum age||Allowed number of users||Fees|
|American Express||Yes||13||Not determined||$0–$175|
|Bank of America||Yes||Nobody||Up to 5||Free|
|discover||Yes||fifteen||Up to 5||Free|
|Synchrony||Yes||Nobody||3 to 6||Free|
|US bank||Yes||16||up to 7||Free|
Updated: August 2022
What you need to know about adding authorized users to your credit card
Before you add your child to your card, consider the ins and outs of how the issuer treats authorized users to make sure you (and your child) are getting the benefits you want without high fees.
Here are the key factors to consider when adding authorized users to your credit card:
- Most major issuers report an authorized user account on the guest’s credit file. However, some issuers report both positive and negative information (such as late payments) associated with the main authorized user credit account, while others report only positive items.
- American Express is the only major issuer that issues authorized user cards with different card numbers and allows the primary cardholder to set spending limits and receive notifications of authorized user spending.
- As a last resort, Discover offers a “Freeze” option to temporarily freeze and unlock your account in seconds on the web or mobile app. You can use it to stop all your purchases if, for example, your child loses their card. However, the downside is that it freezes your own line of credit at the same time.
How to add someone as an authorized user to your credit card
Since most credit card issuers have online banking for account management, you can usually add an authorized user online.
- Sign in to your credit card profile.
- Find an account or financial services center page for your credit card.
- Look for the option “Order a card for someone else” or “Add user to account”.
- Follow the issuer’s instructions with your name, date of birth (if required), and Social Security Number (SSN), and add any spending limits or restrictions to the card.
- After completion, the card with the username should come to the mail.
If you’re having trouble adding your child or anyone else to your credit card as an authorized user online, you can also call the number on the back of your credit card to speak with a representative and begin the process.
How to remove authorized users from your credit card
Eventually, the day will come when it will be time to remove your child from your record.
You can choose to remove them if they use your card recklessly, but ideally this will be because they are ready to get their own card.
At the age of 18, a young person can legally enter into an agreement and, possibly, receive a card. However, the CARD Act of 2009 made it harder for people under 21 to get credit cards, and they must show proof of income or get a guarantor. Unlike adding your child as an authorized user, most credit card issuers don’t have an online process to do this. Typically, you need to call to remove an authorized user.
- Take out your credit card and call the customer service number on the back of the card.
- Enter your card number, SSN or account number to verify your information.
- Follow the phone prompts to contact a customer service or customer service representative.
- Ask to remove the authorized user from the account.
- Notify the authorized user that they have been removed from their account and that their card is no longer active. Usually, the deletion occurs instantly, and the card is immediately deactivated.
Cost of adding an authorized user
Most card issuers do not charge for additional users on credit card accounts. Bank of America, Barclays, and Capital One charge no fees for adding authorized users. However, Chase and American Express charge a fee on their premium credit cards for additional users.
For example, the American Express Platinum Card® charges $175 for up to three authorized user cards (then another $175 for each additional Platinum card), while the Chase Sapphire Reserve card charges $75 per authorized user.
Pros and cons of adding a child or minor to your card
- Teaches financial responsibility to adulthood: Your child can learn more about how credit cards and billing cycles work by using the card on their own.
- Sets a credit profile at an earlier age: Instead of waiting until they turn 18, your child can start building a positive credit history if the card is used responsibly.
- Cards can be used in emergency cases: If an emergency comes up and you can’t be there to fix it, a credit card can help them with a flat tire, an empty gas tank, or even an emergency grocery trip.
- Each authorized user may be charged: Some card issuers charge an annual fee for each person added as an authorized user.
- Their spending can affect your credit usage and credit score: Your credit utilization ratio may increase if someone else spends funds in your account. Be sure to set limits and restrictions on when the card can and cannot be used.
- Additional cards create a greater risk of theft and fraud: Having another user on your account means an increased risk of credit card fraud from unsafe online purchases or simply losing your credit card in public.
Frequently Asked Questions About Authorized Credit Cards
Will adding my child to my credit card hurt my credit score?
In general, adding your child to your credit card will not hurt your credit score as long as they use the card responsibly, and you monitor your credit utilization rate and make payments on your account on time.
Does adding an authorized user help your credit?
Yes, if you have responsible credit card habits, then adding an authorized user will help their credit. Your credit card account will be added to the user’s credit report and positive payment history. And your credit utilization rate and account age will count towards their credit score. Not sure about your credit utilization rate? Find out with our loan calculator.
Which is Better: Authorized User Relationship or Shared Account Owner?
It depends on situation. If you are opening an account for joint use with a partner or spouse, then a relationship with a joint account holder may be an option. Note, however, that several issuers still offer co-branded credit card accounts. If you’re just renewing your line of credit with someone else, or want to help a family member get a loan, then an authorized user relationship is probably the right choice.
Generally, the minimum age for an authorized user is 13, but some card issuers such as Capital One, Citibank, and Wells Fargo do not specify a minimum age. However, you must not add anyone under the age of 18 as an authorized user on your credit card just to help them increase credit or give them access to your line of credit.
When adding a minor or child as an authorized credit card user, be sure to set spending or usage limits and limits. Teach them how to handle a credit card responsibly and make sure they understand the financial implications of charging plastic and how it can affect both of your credit scores.
*Information was collected independently by contacting customer representatives of each card issuer shown in the table.
The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective judgment of our contributors and is not based on advertising. It was not provided or ordered by credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to our partners’ products.