FICO Removing "Authorized Users" From Calculations; Credit Piggybackers Scores Dropping

No longer will consumer credit scores be able to get a free ride on another’s credit report; FICO has removed “authorized user” accounts from their calculations.

Previously, consumers with poor credit scores could get themselves added as an authorized user on the credit card account of someone with a good credit score and receive a credit score boost, a practice that, “…is clearly loan fraud,” Craig Watts, the public affairs manager for Fair Isaac, which sells the FICO score, told the Washington Post.

Fair Issac says the change will come about as part of the updated FICO 08 score to debut in September, but an industry source says they’re already seeing the credit scores of authorized users beginning to broadly drop.

Credit scores are used to decide whether people get loans. People inflating their scores, and Fair Issac’s failure to deal with it, has lead to criticism of the company for contributing to the subprime mortgage meltdown.

However, John Ulzheimer, president of, a consumer credit website, tells the Detroit Free Press,

…it will also hurt legitimate authorized users, mainly young adults and married women, who have used the strategy to build a solid credit history. These consumers could end up paying more for everything from car loans to credit cards.

If you’re married and listed as an authorized user on a spouse’s account, consider converting it to a joint to avoid a credit score ding.

Changes coming to credit scoring may hamper authorized users [St. Louis Post Dispatch]
Shortcut to good credit will end [Detroit Free Press]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Godz says:

    Damn, now I have less good credit!

  2. full.tang.halo says:

    I’m kinda saddened by this, I was put on my parents cc as an authorized user when I was younger and thus was able to establish a good credit history that has helped me later in life.

  3. markymags says:

    @full.tang.halo: I agree. My fiance and I both received credit cards from our parents to use in case of emergency. Both of our credit scores benefitted greatly from this.

  4. allstarecho says:

    Now all those businesses that “sell” you piggybacking on someone else’s credit cards, will shut down. boo hoo.

  5. Timewalker says:

    So will this work the other way? If you were an authorized signer on, say, your parent’s credit card, and that card went into collections, will that account be removed from your credit report/score?

  6. SadSam says:

    I wonder why the FICO folks can’t continue to take into consideration the authorized users who are children of the credit card holder or the spouse of the credit card holder. I can understand wanting to shut down the stranger piggy-backing on someone else’s credit.

  7. SBR249 says:

    why would anyone let a stranger piggyback on his/her good credit? That’s like pointing a loaded gun at one’s (metaphorical) head and putting a strangers fingers on the trigger.

  8. Nick says:

    @SBR249: You wouldn’t actually give the card to the person with bad credit. They only exist on your account on paper, so their score goes up without them being able to spend money on your account.

  9. SybilDisobedience says:


    It is a risky move. But it’s not always a bad idea. My fiance has excellent credit; when I met him, I had virtually none at all. After we were together about a year, he added me to one of his cards so I could get started building my score. We didn’t fly into it blindly, and I take the responsibility seriously. I am actually the one who makes all the payments on the card, though it’s in both our names, as a little trade-off to him (he has 2 other credit cards of his own, so he’s definitely not getting off scot-free).
    It’s too bad that they’re looking at this practice as “load fraud,” because I don’t think that’s why many people do it.

  10. SaveMeJeebus says:

    @SBR249: I don’t understand either. At least if it is joint, they can be held liable for debt. Piggybacking does not create any liability for those doing it.

  11. j-o-h-n says:

    @SBR249: several hunder dollars a pop is why

  12. SybilDisobedience says:

    edit: “loan fraud.” not “load fraud.” yeesh.

  13. bohemian says:

    Who actually monitors or controls what Fair Issac does? They seem to be an all powerful entity with a great ability to screw up your life but are accountable to no one.

    One aspect of this just screams for a civil rights case since the majority of the legit people being damaged would be women who don’t work and have authorized user status on their spouses accounts.

  14. msbeer says:

    I just think that it’s BS that you have to pay to see your FICO score, though you can get a free credit report every year now.

  15. selianth says:

    If hubby & I change my “authorized user” status over to “joint account holder” status on the credit card we’ve used (and paid off every month) for years, do I still get to keep the entire credit history? Or will they simply start reporting it as if I had opened a new account for myself as of August ’07? Anyone know?

  16. Oh, that’s so annoying. Do you know what a pain in the ass CC companies make it to switch from being an authorized user to a joint account? Yeah, we’ve been at it for eight months now (of course, this IS Bank of America we’re talking about and their primary solution is to keep deauthorizing me from the account rather than making me joint and we’re only still dicking around with it because we’re dithering over what rewards card to switch to now that BofA bought MBNA).

  17. djxspike says:

    So I have an AmEx charge card in my name… I got my girlfriend a card (yes i used her SSN) with her name on it on my account to help give her some credit history.

    Is this going to affect her credit?

  18. gorckat says:

    @McGee: When I was at MBNA, it was a 5-minute phone call :P

  19. MissPinkKate says:

    I noticed my credit score went down- I bet this is why.

  20. DadCooks says:

    This is another case of the “regulators” and “bureaucrats” doing things blindly.

    It would not take a “rocket scientist” to figure out how to get the “scam piggy backers” off of the accounts.

    This is just going to make it more difficult for the “good kids” to establish credit and when they can get credit it will be at highly inflated rates!

    The banks, credit card companies, and credit reporting agencies colluded and fostered the “scam piggy backers” and are getting “bit” by their own stupidness. That is no excuse to abolish the original intent and benefit of authorized users.

    Financial World heal thyself and quit screwing with the honest hardworking folk!

  21. EtherealStrife says:

    Wow what a crock. If I paid interest on anything I’d be f-ing pissed.

  22. balthisar says:

    Gee, get credit the way I did. Build it up from scratch. You can still get a co-signer on a loan as a last resort.

  23. anatak says:


    Because that is just as much of an illegitimate boost in your score as if you didn’t know each other. The point of FICO’s little system is to assess the riskiness of a potential borrower. Your parents’ or spouse’s spending habits say nothing of your own. Besides, that is assuming that those family members are legitimate authorized users and not fraudulent ones like those described.

  24. threlkelded says:

    Horray! Now I can still use my dad’s credit card and not worry about what will happen to my score if he doesn’t pay his damn bills.