Whatever the reason, you are entitled to remove an authorized user from your account. Learn how to do it properly now.
If you added another person to your credit card account as an authorized user, the situation doesn’t have to last forever.
Maybe you added an authorized user during a time when they were making purchases on your behalf to boost your rewards, or perhaps you wanted to help someone improve their credit score. Whatever the reason, there may come a time when you want to revoke their privileges, and you are entitled to do so.
While the credit card issuer won’t ask for an explanation regarding removing an authorized user, first notify the person who has access to your account. That way, they won’t continue using the card and face a denial at the point of sale without knowing why.
Read on to learn what making a person an authorized user on your account does to your credit, some excellent reasons to remove a person from your credit card account and how to properly — and gracefully — do it with each of the major credit card issuers.
Before I remove an authorized user, what are their rights?
Authorized users don’t have to go through a qualification process to receive their credit cards because they are never account owners. Instead, they are guests invited by you, to have a card linked to your account.
With that in mind, authorized users are legally permitted to make transactions, and can very often report lost or stolen cards, review and discuss account information with the issuer, initiate billing disputes and make payments. Some may even be able to complete a balance transfer.
However, the authorized user is not legally obligated to pay the issuer. Instead, as the primary account holder you are entirely liable for payments and debt, even if you didn’t make the charges. Therefore, it’s important for you to always maintain control over the account.
How to remove an authorized user from your account
Although adding an authorized user to your account can usually be done on the card issuer’s website, in an app or over the phone, many issuers only remove authorized users over the phone. This means you may have to call your credit card issuer to have your authorized user removed.
If you wind up calling your card issuer to have an authorized user removed, you just need to tell them you want the authorized user account closed immediately.
You can always call the number on the back of your card to start the process. You can also call the customer service phone numbers for any of the major credit card issuers or try out their online processes (where available), which are shared in the chart below.
|Credit card issuer||Customer service phone number||Online|
|American Express||800-528-2122||American Express|
|Bank of America||800-732-9194||N/A|
|Capital One||800-227-4825||Capital One|
|Citibank||800-950-5114||Costco Anywhere Visa® Card|
How to remove yourself as an authorized user from an account
If you’re the authorized user on someone else’s credit card, you should also be able to remove yourself. Perhaps your parents added you to their credit card when you were young, but you’re an adult now, and you want your own card.
The process is much the same for you as it is for the primary cardholder. Simply call the credit card issuer and ask to be removed as an authorized user, or remove yourself from the account online, depending on if you have access and the issuer permits that.
When to remove an authorized user from your account
Under what circumstances should you remove an authorized user from your account? While nearly any situation can warrant doing so if you believe it’s best for your own finances, there are a few common ones that tend to arise.
If, contrary to your agreement, the authorized user is managing the account poorly, by making more purchases than you’re comfortable with and not sticking to the budget you both agreed upon, you might need to put a stop to it. When your authorized user causes the balance to reach close to your credit limit or even maxes out the account, the credit utilization — on both your accounts — will shoot up and drag down your credit scores. In that case, being an authorized user won’t help build their score, and you might as well remove them before they damage your credit any further.
Similarly, if you had settled on the user paying you back for the bill each month but they fail to repay you in a timely manner or in full, that’s also a good reason to remove them.
The happy scenario is when your authorized user has built up a decent credit history and can now qualify for a card of their own. We advise that the user applies for and is approved for a card they want first, before you remove them. The removal may result in a dip in their credit score.
The following are some other common scenarios where it can make sense:
- Change of employee status for a worker with an authorized user card
- Decision to take control of one’s own debt without others making purchases
- Divorce or separation
- No longer necessary for any reason
While there’s no law or policy that stipulates that you must inform the person that you’re removing them from your account, doing so is still a good idea. When you let them know, you give them time to make informed decisions with their finances while also helping them avoid an embarrassing credit card denial at the point of sale.
What are good reasons to remove yourself as an authorized user?
Of course, a primary cardholder’s activity affects an authorized user’s credit as well, for better or worse. You may have joined someone’s credit card account thinking they’re a responsible credit user, only to find out otherwise afterwards. If having the account on your credit report is hurting your credit score, removing yourself as an authorized user will remove the account from your credit report.
The primary cardholder not using credit responsibly is a great reason to remove yourself. This can include missing payments or running up a high balance, which can negatively affect the authorized user’s payment history and credit utilization, even if it’s not your activity.
On the other hand, if you can’t afford the bill and miss the payment, and the primary cardholder remains unaware, the card issuer will start reporting late payments to the credit bureaus. At that point, you might decide to remove yourself to protect the main account holder’s credit.
If the card issuer starts reporting late payments to the credit bureaus, you might decide to remove yourself to protect the primary cardholder’s credit. Other reasons may include ending your relationship with the primary account holder, and you want to eliminate all ties.
Additionally, you should plan to end the relationship within a couple of years so that you can focus your time on building up your credit on your own and establishing a positive credit history.
Credit impact of removing an authorized user
Whether you remove an authorized user or you remove yourself from another’s account, the authorized user’s credit score will be affected — either positively or negatively.
The biggest impact will likely be on your length of credit history, which constitutes 15 percent of your FICO score. Once you are removed as an authorized user, the account you were attached to will no longer appear on your credit report or be factored into your credit score. If the credit card you were attached to was the oldest account on your report or your only credit account, your credit history will be shorter without it and may be severely affected.
However, the impact on your credit score may be a worthwhile change if the account was poorly managed. Late payments have a larger effect on your creditworthiness than length of history, since payment history takes up 35 percent of your score. Nearly as important, your credit utilization ratio may also change. It could go down if you’ve removed yourself from a frequently maxed-out credit card, or it could go up if, without that account, your overall credit limit decreases.
If you’re the primary cardholder who removed an irresponsible authorized user, your credit will likely improve. Without their negative activity, your own on-time and full payments will gradually overtake the impact of any derogatory items on your credit report. Your credit utilization rate is likely to be lower as well, if you use only a fraction of your overall credit.
You can remove an authorized user from your credit card account over the phone with any card issuer, and some let you perform this task online. Some card issuers, including American Express, also let you freeze authorized user accounts online if you need to prevent new purchases immediately.
After you’ve contacted the issuer to make the request, there’s nothing left for you to do since the authorized user card can no longer be used for new purchases. For better or worse, you, as the primary cardholder, will have the account all to yourself again. As for the ex-authorized user, you can always start again on building up your credit with your own credit card this time.