At some point, you may have an opportunity to use someone else's credit card to make a purchase. You may be breaking the law by doing so, if you do not have the authority to use the card. Authorized users can use other people's credit cards without creating any legal obligation for them to repay the debt.
Using Someone Else's Card
If you simply take another person's credit card and use it, you are committing credit card fraud. Even if a friend or family member gives you his card to use, you should not use it if your name is not on the card. A credit card is issued to the person who is authorized to make purchases. Many merchants require you to show identification when making a credit card purchase, although, in some instances, identification is not required. For example, online purchases or purchases made through self-checkout means could be made using someone else's card without incident.
To use someone else's card legally, you should become an authorized user on that person's account. An authorized user is an individual who can use someone else's credit card without being responsible for any charges. With this approach, the account holder adds the authorized user's name to his account. The authorized user will be issued a credit card and can begin charging purchases to the account with the new card. The credit card account holder will receive the bill and is responsible for any debt obligations on the credit card account.
Paying Off the Debt
If you are added to someone else's account as an authorized user, you technically can make purchases on the account up to the credit limit. If you make purchases with the card, you may work out an agreement with the account holder to repay him for the debt. You are not legally tied to the debt when you are an authorized user, however.
When you are an authorized user on a credit card, it can have an impact on your credit score. Even though you may not be legally obligated to repay the debt on the account, this account will show up on your credit report. As a result, if you are an authorized user of a credit account of someone with good credit, it may help increase credit score. On the other hand, if you become an authorized user of someone who has poor credit, it can lower your score.
- The Mortgage Professor's Website: Authorized Users: Any Credit Risk? Any Benefit?; December 2010
- BCS Alliance: Why You Shouldn't Be An Authorized User on a Credit Card
- Experian. "Authorized User vs. Joint Account Holder: What’s the Difference?" Accessed March 3, 2020.
- Experian. "Authorized User vs. Cosigner." Accessed March 3, 2020.
- Experian. "Will Being an Authorized User Help My Credit?" Accessed March 3, 2020.
- FICO. "Fair Isaac Innovation Will Restore Authorized User Accounts to Calculation of FICO 08 Scores." Accessed March 3, 2020.
Luke Arthur has been writing professionally since 2004 on a number of different subjects. In addition to writing informative articles, he published a book, "Modern Day Parables," in 2008. Arthur holds a Bachelor of Science in business from Missouri State University.