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Which Credit Card Issuers Allow a Co-Signer?

Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards
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Which Credit Cards Allow a Co-Signer?

Whether you’re applying for your first credit card or trying to rebuild bad credit, adding a co-signer to your application can help you get approved. A co-signer is a second applicant, typically one with a good credit and income history, who guarantees that your credit card balance will be paid if you default.

Most major credit card issuers don’t allow for co-signers, even on their student credit cards. And be aware that even when a co-signer is allowed, it might be difficult to find one, since being a co-signer means taking responsibility for someone else’s spending. If this is the case, you have other options, including becoming an authorized user and applying for a secured credit card. To learn more about those avenues, read below.

Major credit card issuers’ co-signer policies

Issuer


Allows co-signer?


Notes


American Express


No


Must be 15 years old to be added as an authorized user.


Bank of America


Yes



Barclaycard


No


Must be 13 years old to be added as an authorized user.


Capital One


No


There is no minimum age required to be an authorized user.


Chase


No


There is no minimum age required to be an authorized user.


Citi


No


There is no minimum age required to be an authorized user.


Discover


No


US Bank


Yes


Wells Fargo


Yes



Co-signer vs. authorized user

Getting added as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account is generally easier than finding a card that will allow a co-signer. And with most major issuers reporting authorized user activity to all three credit bureaus, it may seem like the better option. But before choosing that option, consider the disadvantages.

When you’re approved for a credit card with a co-signer, you and the co-signer become joint account owners and are both responsible for repaying the balance. If you’re an authorized user, however, you can make purchases with the card, but you aren’t on the hook for payments. For that reason, the FICO credit-scoring model gives less weight to authorized user activity because you’re not ultimately responsible for paying.

If you’re new to credit or your credit score is in the dumps, being an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account can have some positive influence on your credit score, but not nearly as much as if you were the primary account holder.

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If you can’t get your own credit card

If you’ve been declined because you’re new to credit or you have bad credit, try to find someone who is willing to be a co-signer on your application and apply for a card from an issuer that accepts joint applications.

Keep in mind, however, that some people may be apprehensive about being a co-signer on a loan or credit card because they’re putting their own credit on the line to help you. If you’re having trouble finding a co-signer, you have a couple of options.

First, consider a secured credit card. You’ll generally have a better chance at being approved for a secured card because the card issuer requires a collateral deposit, generally equal to your credit line, making it less risky for it to approve your application. You’ll also be the primary account holder on the card, so your card usage will help build your credit score.

If that doesn’t work, try getting added as an authorized user. In some cases, the primary account holder can even set a spending limit on your card if she’s worried about adding you.

Remember that building credit often takes time and patience. Though your options may be limited now, establishing good credit behaviors early can eventually put you on the right path to excellent credit.

Ben Luthi is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: bluthi@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @benluthi.


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