Knowing what your status on a credit card account is lets you know your responsibility and liability regarding the debt. It’s very simple to figure out whether you’re an authorized user or a joint account holder. But what exactly is the difference?
An authorized user can be thought of as a guest on the credit card account. An authorized user can make charges and has their own card. Authorized users are not responsible for any of the debt on the account, however, and will not have to pay any of the sum.
A co-signer, or joint account holder, is in a completely different situation.
Joint account holders are under contract and obligated to pay the debt if the account goes into default. Joint account holders are considered equal account holders and can’t be released from the account. You’ll usually need to provide credit history and income information to become a co-signer because the credit card company holds you as liable for the debt as the other account holder.
Finding out whether you’re an authorized user or a joint account holder on a credit card is easy to do.
If you co-signed on the account and had to provide income or credit information you’re most likely a joint account holder.
You can also call the telephone number on the back of your credit card and ask customer service. They will tell you.
Another alternative is to review a copy of your credit report. When you view the account information on the report look for a letter before the account information. A “J” means that you are a joint holder of the account while an “A” means you’re an authorized user.
An “I” means that the account is simply held individually.
Both authorized users and joint account holders will have all credit activity reported on their credit report. This can be a good thing if the account remains in good standing.
If one of the cardholders uses the card irresponsibly, however, it will turn out badly for anyone involved.