Understanding the basics of shared credit card accounts to know what's right for you
Credit cards can be a convenient financial tool for students—but it's important to understand that using them means you're really taking out a loan.
The Basics of Shared Credit Card Accounts
When you have a credit card, it is often possible to add an additional card to the account for use by someone else. There are several options for adding someone to your account and you should select the option that best fits your financial situation.
An authorized user is any person who has permission to use your credit card account, but is not responsible for paying the bill. Authorized users differ from joint credit card account holders, in which both parties are obliged to pay. In most cases, the authorized user will receive a credit card in his or her name, with your credit card number and credit line attached to it. Depending on your bank, authorized users may report to the major credit bureaus, which can help establish credit.
A co-signer or guarantor is a person who signs an agreement to pay off a credit card balance for someone else if that person does not pay. This is a technique often used among family and friends to allow a person with good credit to vouch for a person with new credit or bad credit to get a credit card. The presence of a co-signer makes lenders more willing to approve credit card applications for high-risk borrowers. While co-signing allows the person with bad credit to get a credit card, it puts the person with good credit on the hook for the entire amount borrowed.
A joint account is a credit card account equally shared by two individuals. Parties involved all share the associated rights and liabilities of the account and are regarded by law as co-owners of the account. This means that if anything happens to the account, such as non-payment, all parties are affected. Being a joint account holder is different from being an authorized user. An authorized user has permission to make charges to a card, but is not responsible for payment.
If you are not comfortable with adding someone to your credit card account, there are still options available for the person looking to establish credit.
Secured Credit Card Account
A secured credit card account often requires a security deposit that becomes the credit limit for the account. It can be used just like any other credit card. Build up your credit history — use this card responsibly and over time it could help you improve your credit score. Learn more about our Secured credit card.