Bank of America allows cardholders to add authorized users to their accounts. Learn how to add an authorized user to your card, how much it costs and what impact it may have on your credit.
You can help family members or friends struggling with a low credit score by adding them as authorized users on your Bank of America credit card.
But be careful. Once you add someone as an authorized user, that person gains full access to your credit card account. If this person runs up charges on your card and refuses to pay for them, you’re responsible for paying off that debt.
You need to make sure anyone you add as an authorized user to your Bank of America card is responsible enough to pay off the charges they make.
Adding an authorized user to a Bank of America credit card
- What is an authorized user?
- Why add an authorized user?
- What are the requirements for adding an authorized user?
- How to add an authorized user to your Bank of America card
- Is there a fee for adding an authorized user on your Bank of America account?
- Do authorized users have access to all the benefits on a Bank of America card?
- Can you limit the access your authorized user has?
- What are the pros of adding an authorized user to your credit card?
- What are the cons of adding an authorized user to your credit card?
- How adding an authorized user – and becoming one – can affect credit
- How to remove an authorized user from a Bank of America credit card
What is an authorized user?
An authorized user is someone you permit to use your credit card. If you add an authorized user to your credit card, this person will get their own credit card with an identical account number as yours. The authorized user can then use this card to make purchases, just like you can.
Authorized users, though, are not responsible for making any card payments. That responsibility solely rests with the primary cardholder
Why add an authorized user?
You won’t receive any benefits by adding an authorized user to your Bank of America credit card account, and you’ll take on extra risk. But if you use the credit card responsibly, it will help your authorized user build credit.
This is why parents might add their children as authorized users. It can be challenging for young people who haven’t used credit cards or taken out loans to build credit on their own. Parents who add their children as authorized users can help them steadily build their credit and generate a solid credit score. When these children are ready to apply for credit cards on their own, they’ll have a credit history and score that banks can study.
What are the requirements for adding an authorized user on a Bank of America card?
You can add anyone as an authorized user on your Bank of America credit card. There is also no minimum age requirement for an authorized user. You can add your children at a young age to your Bank of America account.
How to add an authorized user to your Bank of America account
First, log into your Bank of America online account. If you have more than one Bank of America card, pick the one on which you’d like to add an authorized user.
You’ll then have to fill out the authorized user’s information, including the user’s first and last names, county in which the user resides, date of birth, Social Security number and primary phone number.
See related: How to add an authorized user to a Chase credit card
Is there a fee for adding an authorized user on your Bank of America account?
Do authorized users have access to all the benefits on a Bank of America card?
If a card offers a benefit, like auto rental insurance or trip cancellation insurance, your authorized user will be able to take advantage of these perks. But only the primary cardholder can cash in rewards. However, every purchase your authorized user makes counts toward your rewards and cash back.
Can you limit the access your authorized user has?
What are the pros of adding an authorized user to your credit card?
Adding an authorized user doesn’t help you or your credit. But it can make a big difference for someone else’s credit.
“As long as the primary cardholder has great credit, becoming an authorized user can be a very useful tool for people with bad or limited credit,” said Karra Kingston, a bankruptcy attorney and founder of Staten Island-based Karra L. Kingston Esq.
Kingston said parents often add their children as authorized users, even when these children are too young to use a credit card.
“Even if the parents aren’t giving their kids the card to use, just putting them on as authorized users can help their credit,” Kingston said.
According to Lauren Bringle Jackson, financial counselor at Self Financial in Austin, Texas, being an authorized user is a great way for younger people to start building credit before they turn 18.
“Any other financial product you want to get on your own, you usually have to be 18 or older,” Bringle Jackson said. “A lot of credit card companies have no minimum age for authorized users. If you are a parent and you have great credit, this is a good option to help your children start building a longer credit history sooner.”
What are the cons of adding an authorized user to your credit card?You have little control over how much that user spends. And if an authorized user racks up a significant amount of debt on your card, you’re ultimately responsible for paying it off.
Jeff Zhou, founder of New York City-based Fig, a finance technology company, says you should clearly spell out how much authorized users can spend and when they have to pay you back.
You might say that an authorized user can only make $100 in charges a month. You might also spell out that the authorized user must pay you enough to cover his or her charges by the first or last day of every month.
And if your goal is to simply provide authorized users a credit boost, you might state that your authorized user isn’t allowed to make any purchases on your Bank of America account for any reason.
How adding an authorized user – and becoming one – can affect credit
Both adding and becoming an authorized user comes with credit benefits and risks.
Authorized users benefit from the good credit habits of primary cardholders. When primary cardholders make their payments on time, the credit of authorized users get a boost. But if the primary cardholder makes a payment 30 days or more past the due date, that payment is reported late to the three national credit bureaus. This will not only cause a drop in the primary cardholder’s credit score but also the authorized user’s.
A primary cardholder with a high credit utilization ratio can also hurt the credit of an authorized user. This ratio measures how much of your available credit you are using at any one time. The higher this ratio, the worse it is for your credit score. Credit utilization is the second most important factor in determining your credit score, right behind your record of on-time payments.
Say the primary cardholder has a credit limit of $10,000 on the card you are being added to. If that cardholder has $9,000 worth of debt on that card, that’s a high credit utilization ratio, and it will reflect negatively on your credit score. If the primary cardholder pays her or his entire balance in full each month, that will boost your credit.
The key for authorized users, then, is to make sure the primary cardholder has a long history of making his or her credit card payments on time and does not carry large balances.
“Being added as an authorized user is not going to help you if the person adding you has bad credit or uses credit cards in a negative way,” Bringle Jackson said. “If they have a ton of debt or have missed a bunch of payments it will hurt your score. Their credit history becomes your credit history. If they are not using their credit responsibly, it can hurt your credit, too.”
An authorized user can also bring some pain to primary cardholders. If an authorized user makes big charges throughout the month, the credit utilization ratio of the primary cardholder might increase. This can damage the cardholder’s credit score.
“Make sure you are working with an authorized user you trust,” Kingston said. “You can’t stop them from making charges once they are authorized users. Make sure they know what you expect and put them on a card with a smaller credit limit. Don’t add them to a card with a credit limit of $30,000.”
How to remove an authorized user from a Bank of America credit card
If you need to remove an authorized user from your Bank of America credit card, call 800-421-2110. A customer service representative will help you remove the user.
Adding an authorized user to your Bank of America credit card gives them an opportunity to benefit from your credit usage – but only if you use it responsibly and pay your bills on time. And if you are added as an authorized user, don’t take advantage of the primary cardholder. If you don’t follow their rules, they’ll drop you and you’ll no longer receive that boost to your credit.