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Is there a benefit to adding someone as an authorized credit card user as opposed to just giving them my credit card details without adding them as an authorized user?

Is the only benefit of adding them as an AU that their credit score increases?

3 Answers 3

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Legally these are the same things. Your intention in giving your credit card details is to authorize them to use them.

In practice, merchants are not supposed to allow people to use credit cards with someone else's name on them. This is also against your TOS with your issuer.

You'll have little control over how the details are being used, and you may need to have the card reissued (with a new number and all) if it is misused and you want to revoke your authorization. You'll also find it hard to distinguish between your transactions and those made by your authorized user.

By going through adding an authorized user with your issuer, you get a separate card with your user's name on it, in many banks it would be with a different number and CVC, and you'll be able to see which transactions are yours and which are AU's. In some banks you may also set a separate spending limit for each AU, essentially controlling how much of your credit they can use (American Express, for example, allows that in the US). You can then also easily revoke the authorization, especially if the AU has a different card number.

As to credit score increases... It depends on the primary user's being responsible - if the primary user didn't pay the card bill on time - the AU's credit will also suffer.

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    My children's authorized cards (both Chase and BoA) all have the same number, date and CVV.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 23:58
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    @RonJohn yep, not all banks do that. I have experience with Chase and AMEX - amex creates new card numbers and clearly separates the transactions, allows setting limits, and the AU has a separate access to their card online. Chase doesn't do any of that.
    – littleadv
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 0:06
  • And Discover can tell the difference, only if they're swiped. Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 21:53
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There are definitely benefits to adding someone as an authorized user compared to just giving them your credit card information.

The main benefit of using the authorized user feature is that you can remove an AU at any time. If you gave that person your credit card information outright, you'd have to get a new card if you no longer wanted them to have access.

Another benefit of having authorized users is that each AU gets their own credit card. That's less helpful if your purchases are all made online, but it prevents needing to give someone else your card if they're making in-person purchases.

Your credit card company may or may not allow you to let someone else use your credit card without being an authorized user, and if they don't allow it but you still give someone else your card information, you could run the risk of having your account closed.

Finally, merchants may refuse payment if someone else is using your credit card because of the increased risk that you could initiate a chargeback or claim the transaction was fraudulent.

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    If I added them as an AU, wouldn't I still have to get a new card if I didn't want them to have access? Because they would have the card details.
    – rahul Saha
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 20:26
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    @rahulSaha it might be different for the CC company you use, but in my experience, AUs get a separate card with different credentials so when you remove them as an AU, their CC information stops working.
    – Stan H
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 20:29
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    @StanH my childrens' Bank of America cards have their own name, but the name number, expiration and CVV.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 23:56
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There's very little advantage to just sharing your card information unless it's a one-off and you wish to avoid the hassle of making a phone call. For regular use you should prefer an authorized user, at least...

If your bank is one that will provide a different card number for an authorized user then I would definitely recommend going that route, the main reason being so you know which card was used for every transaction. In my experience in the US though, most banks don't use separate numbers for personal credit cards (Amex is one that does though). Side note, AFAIK nearly all banks do use separate numbers for business CC authorized users.

If your bank doesn't provide different numbers for authorized users, then I'd suggest a third option, which is to open another CC and add the person as an authorized user to that card. Then you exclusively use the one card, and the other person exclusively uses the other card. I myself do this (with Citi Double cash) and there are some advantages (compared to sharing the same number):

  1. I set up alerts for every charge. The alerts have the last four of the account number and when I receive them I instantly know which card it was, which is especially helpful if the charge is suspicious or surprising.
  2. When one card is compromised, only one needs to be replaced.
  3. You can set different limits per card, if desired.
  4. If one card expires and you recently moved and some of your mail didn't forward and/or you were slow to open your desk full of mail and you didn't have/find your new card yet, at least you have another working card to hold you over temporarily. (This point is moot if you already have two or more cards.)

One potential downside though, is you have an extra bill to pay every month. This doesn't bother me because I changed my billing cycle dates to be the same day for the main 3 CC's I use, and I spend about 5-10 minutes each month paying all 3 at the same time.

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