A reader doesn’t want to be an authorized user on their ex’s card accounts, and wants them off their credit reports, but the ex will not cooperate.
Being an authorized user on a credit card has its perks, such as building up your credit. But what if you have a fallout with the primary account holder and want to get off the account?
For instance, reader Clark writes, “My ex is the primary account holder for four of our old credit cards. We have been divorced for five years and he still refuses to remove me from the accounts. The credit card companies say they need both of us to fill out the form, but he refuses to do so because of his poor credit and spending habits and the control. I want these off of my credit report. How can I do this without his permission or signature?”
What is an authorized user?An authorized user is a secondary user that the primary account holder has added on to the account. For instance, it could be a parent trying to help their child develop a credit history, a spouse enabling their partner’s credit card usage or a friend or family member aiding someone who can’t open their own account.
While the primary account holder remains responsible for paying the bills on the account, the authorized user can make purchases using this card account. What else the authorized user can do with the credit card depends on the issuer’s policies.
Being an authorized user is different from being a joint account holder, in which case two people share an account together and are both responsible for paying the bills on it.
Consider credit score impact
Before dissociating yourself as an authorized user, consider what impact the action might have on your credit score. Some card issuers don’t report authorized users to the credit bureaus, in which case your decision would be of little or no consequence to your credit score.
However, there are issuers that report authorized user activity to the credit bureaus. In that case, when the account’s line of credit you had access to gets cut off, it would impact your credit utilization ratio.
You will now have less credit in total available to you. This means any balances you carry on other cards will use up more of your available credit, raising your credit utilization rate, which makes up about 30% of your credit score.
Even after the account is closed, input from it will be a part of your credit history though the account is not open. There could be a negative impact on the length of your credit history, which is another input into your credit score, accounting for about 15% of it. If this is one of your oldest accounts, closing it would have a greater impact on your score.
On the other hand, if the primary account holder is not responsible in their use of the credit card – not paying bills on time, for instance – this could have a negative consequence for the authorized user’s credit history, depending on the credit bureau’s policies. For instance, Experian doesn’t penalize authorized users for the primary cardholder’s late payments.
Removing yourself as an authorized user
It seems the simplest way to get off the account would be to call the card issuer and ask to be removed. While some card issuers do allow this, others require the primary account holder to sign off on the process.
Bank of America is one of the issuers that allow authorized users to ask to be removed from an account even without the consent of the primary account holder, according to a spokesperson for the bank. The issuer will also report that change to the credit reporting agencies.
Citi, on the other hand, requires the primary cardholder’s assent to removing an authorized user from an account, according to a poster on a Reddit forum. Citi did not provide any input when CreditCards.com asked for comment on the matter.
File dispute with credit reporting agencies
If all else fails, you could try putting in a dispute with each of the three credit reporting bureaus. Do this in writing by certified mail (including any supporting documents) so that you have a record of the matter. Credit bureaus are required by law to investigate the matter in 30 days and get back to you. They will also use input provided by the card issuer to decide the matter.
In case the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, you could ask the credit bureaus to include a copy of the dispute with your credit reports and also in your credit file. You could also try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Clark, if your ex’s bad credit habits are impacting you, it’s no wonder you don’t want to be an authorized user on his accounts. It seems card issuers could be more cooperative in these situations, but that’s not always the case.
If you can’t convince your ex or the card issuer, it looks like you will have to resort to filing a dispute with the credit bureaus. Hope that takes care of this matter for you!
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