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Removing an authorized user from a credit card

Doing so should be easy, and it can help clear up the user's credit as well

By Tanisha Warner

Credit Care
'Credit Care' columnist Tanisha Warner
Tanisha Warner is the communications manager for Money Management International, where she manages educational content designed to teach consumers about personal finance topics. She writes "Credit Care," a weekly reader Q&A about debt issues, for CreditCards.com.

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Question for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear Credit Care,
I put my daughter as an authorized user on some of my credit cards. I ended up going into a debt management program. I didn't know that adding her as an authorized user would affect her credit. I feel extremely badly. I would have taken her off of my accounts before I did the debt management program. Is there a way I can get her off of my accounts? The bad accounts are already on her credit report, and I'm sure most of the accounts, if not all, are closed already. Thank you in advance for your assistance. -- Cynthia

Answer for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear Cynthia,
I'm glad that you have started a debt management program and have found a solution for getting your credit card debt under control. You will find that there is a simple solution for removing your daughter as an authorized user from your credit card accounts as well.

Even though your credit card accounts may be closed, you can still contact your card issuers and request that your daughter's name be removed from the accounts as an authorized user. Most card issuers will process the request by phone, while some may also require a request in writing. Call the customer service number listed on your credit cards to request your daughter be removed as an authorized user by phone and/or determine if you need to make the request in writing.

Allow at least one month after you have asked that your daughter be removed from your accounts, and then have her check her credit reports. If she has not already done so for the year, she can access her reports from the three major credit bureaus for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. Should the accounts where she was listed as an authorized user still appear on her credit reports, she can dispute the inaccurate item with the credit bureau that is reporting it. Instructions on how to dispute items online will be included with her credit reports. You can also learn some valuable information here at CreditCards.com. (See "How to dispute credit report errors")

Do know, however, that the different credit bureaus treat authorized user accounts differently. When she checks her Experian credit report, it will likely not include any of your negative credit card accounts as Experian only reports authorized user accounts that have positive information. That means that your daughter likely has nothing to worry about on that report as it relates to the bad account you're asking about. However, Equifax and TransUnion will report both negative and positive authorized user accounts, so she should pay special attention to the accuracy of those two bureaus' reports.

As you have learned, adding someone as an authorized user on an account does impact the authorized user's credit. Many people will add a young adult child or spouse to their accounts as an authorized user to help them build a positive credit history. That works well as long as the owner of the account manages the account well and pays on time and as agreed. The positive payment history will help to build a positive credit history and credit score. However, if the owner of the account makes late payments or no payments at all, the negative account history appears on the authorized user's credit report as well and can damage the credit history and credit score.

Handle your credit with care!

See related: How to remove an authorized user from an account, 6 tips for finding the right debt management plan for you

Tanisha Warner is the communications manager for Money Management International, the largest nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency in the United States. She manages educational content designed to teach consumers about personal finance topics. You can find more money management advice on Blogging for Change and MMI's Facebook page.

Credit Care answers a question about a debt or credit issue from a CreditCards.com reader each week. Send your question to Credit Care.

Updated: July 2, 2012


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