How to remove an authorized user from a credit card account

Either the primary cardholder or the person 'piggybacking' can ask to be removed


Have you been piggybacking on another person's credit card account and want to stop riding their credit coattails?

Being an authorized user -- also known as "piggybacking" -- on a credit card account means the primary account holder gives you permission to use his or her account to shop or make purchases. That primary account holder is responsible for repaying any debts you may incur with the card. (Note: This is not the same as a joint account or co-signer, where both users are jointly responsible for repaying the credit card debt.)

Besides spending privileges, the biggest advantage to piggybacking is that it can give the authorized user's credit history and credit score an immediate boost. That's because once you become an authorized user on an account, the primary account holder's credit history on that specific card can appear on your credit report.

A person with no credit history of their own or a low credit score can benefit from this arrangement. Parents often add their children as authorized users to give them a head start in achieving good credit. However, there's also a risk: The primary account holder's payment history may nosedive or contain negative information. In that instance, the piggybacker's credit score could be hurt, and the authorized user may want to be removed from the account. Once removed, the credit history of the primary account holder -- either negative or positive -- will eventually disappear from the authorized user's credit reports.

The procedures vary slightly among major card issuers, but all allow either the primary cardholder or the authorized user to request removal.

Here's a quick reference list to help steer you through the process of removing an authorized user from a credit card account:

Decline the ride: Rules of major card issuers for removing authorized users
Credit card issuer How to remove authorized users from accounts How long does it take? Who can make request?
American Express Write or call Up to 24 hours after request is received Either primary cardholder or authorized user
Bank of America Write or call Immediately Either primary cardholder or authorized user
Capital One Write or call Immediately Either primary cardholder or authorized user
Chase Write or call Immediately Either primary cardholder or authorized user
Citi Write or call Immediately Either primary cardholder or authorized user
Wells Fargo Call and then put request in writing Not final until written request is received Either primary cardholder or authorized user
To reach a credit card issuer, call the toll-free number listed on the back of the card. Table information updated as of April 19, 2011.

See related: When is it not good to piggyback on mom and dad's credit, Credit card authorized users, joint account holders: Know the difference, Cardholders' mistakes can bring down authorized users' credit score, Act fast to remove authorized user when your credit goes south

Published: April 20, 2011

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Updated: 05-26-2016

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