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I searched for this question and found a similar one but wasn't able to find the answer to specifically what I'm asking.

My wife and I share a credit card. I believe that she's actually the primary cardholder, simply because she's the one who opened it; so I guess that makes me an authorized user on her account. But we share all of our finances; we have one checking account, one savings account, etc. We always pay the card on time and don't have any debt.

My question is basically just about credit score. For me to use this shared card of ours, am I building good credit the same way I would if I had my own card? If not, am I building credit at all?

Part of the reason I'm asking is that my wife and I both asked this question of the bank issuing our card (it's a Chase Sapphire card), and we were given conflicting information. The person I spoke with assured me that I'm building credit the same way I would with my own dedicated card. The person my wife asked said that I'm building some credit, but not as much as if I had my own card.

  • Did you see this answer? Although you're not emerging from bankruptcy, it may still apply to you. – John Bensin Apr 18 '14 at 2:55
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    I added the US tag, as you show it on your profile. The credit score question is important, but answers may vary based on location. Welcome to Money.SE – JoeTaxpayer Apr 18 '14 at 13:20
  • Have you seen this card appear in your credit report? – NL7 Apr 18 '14 at 14:44
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An important thing to note about authorized users is that the card owner is 100% responsible for paying the balance, regardless of who made the charges. This means you aren't sharing the card as far as Chase is concerned, she owns the card & just lets you buy things with it.

Different card providers handle reporting authorized users in different ways, but in general:

Some do not report AU to the CB at all. Judging from the responses you got, I'm assuming yours does report, you can check that yourself by looking at your CR. For ones that do report, the tradeline is specifically marked as you being an AU.

When your FICO score gets calculated, it treats authorized user tradelinesthe same as regular tradelines, so in that respect you are at an equal level with your wife (This includes payment history, utilization, credit limits).

When applying for credit, when someone pulls your CR and looks at your open tradelines, they can see whether you are the primary or an authorized user on each account. It's up to them whether or not they want to count the AU accounts, some do not.

If you were to be removed as an authorized user, the card provider would tell the CBs to completely remove the tradeline from your report as if it was never there, which is different from closing a tradeline, because in the later case the payment history is still considered in your scoring.

The last point is important. If you were to get divorced, & removed from your wife's card the tradeline would be gone from your report, and if you don't have any others in your own name, you would essentially have no credit history.

*This response assumes you actually are an Authorized user. There is such a thing as a joint user, who shares liability for the card.

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