What Is Credit Card Piggybacking and Can It Help You Build Credit?

By: Heather Hanks Mar. 15, 2019

It’s not easy to build credit. If you currently do not have credit or your credit is bad, it can be hard to get a bank or lender to let you borrow money. The truth is that most lenders will not take a risk on you if you have no history of making repayments. Because of this, many people turn to credit card piggybacking as a means to build their credit.

Piggybacking credit occurs when someone adds you as a user on their credit card to help you build credit. While this sounds like an easy way to build credit, there are many downsides to piggybacking credit. It’s not guaranteed to work and some banks do not allow it. Here is everything you need to know about credit card piggybacking and whether or not it can help you build credit.

What is Credit Card Piggybacking?

Piggybacking has been around for nearly 40 years. Lenders and mortgage brokers used it as a way to boost their client’s credit scores. The method was made popular by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act 1974, which allowed a lender or creditor to attach a person’s credit accounts to someone else legally.

Credit card piggybacking is when someone adds you to their line of credit as an authorized user. The term isn’t literal. You don’t exactly jump on someone’s back to join their line of credit. It’s a process that occurs when someone with an open line of credit adds another person to their credit as a user. The purpose behind this is to help the other person gain credit that is tied to the account. Being adding to a line of credit as an authorized user means that you are piggybacking off the credit established by the primary user. This information is reported to your line of credit, too. In other words, the person who adds you to their credit helps transfer their credit to you.

Piggybacking is commonly used among young adults who “piggyback” their parent's credit. It also occurs among close friends or family members. While credit card piggybacking sounds like a great way to build credit if you have none, it’s not always guaranteed to work. This is because some banks do not recognize authorized users as primary holders. They may report the financial activity of the primary user of the account to the major credit reporting bureaus, but not all users on the account. This means that the primary account holder may be able to build their credit but you as an “authorized user” will not.

What Are The Two Types of Credit Card Piggybacking?

There are two types of credit card piggybacking.

1

Traditional piggybacking

Traditional credit piggybacking occurs when a trusted friend or family member adds another person to their credit card account as an authorized user. This allows the primary cardholder’s credit history to be transferred to the authorized user’s account. It’s a secondary way of building your own credit by using someone else’s good behavior.

The downside to this type of piggybacking is that not all banks report authorized user’s activity to the three major credit-reporting agencies. In other words, a lender might report the primary user’s actions, but not yours. This means that you won’t be able to “piggyback” off the primary user’s good behavior to help build your credit, too. The other downside is that if the lender DOES report this behavior and the primary user is not responsible, it could hurt your credit even more.

Under traditional credit piggybacking, the authorized user does not even have to use the card. Although it’s a good idea to use the card to practice making timely payments, you can build your credit without even using the card. This is because merely being listed as a user on the account is sometimes enough to have the primary account holders credit show up on your report. For this to work, you will want to check with your lender to see if they report activity by all users on the account.

2

For-profit piggybacking

The second type of piggybacking is called for-profit piggybacking. It occurs when a business or company helps someone to piggyback off another person by becoming an authorized user on their account. Sometimes a complete stranger is paired up with another stranger to piggyback off them. The company responsible for partnering you up with another person often charges a fee for finding that person.

As you can imagine, for-profit piggybacking can be risky because you don’t know the person you are piggybacking off of. It’s a good idea not to ask to be added to someone’s account unless you trust the primary account holder. Likewise, do not allow anyone else to piggyback off you unless you know and trust them. Letting a stranger on your account is risky business.

For-profit piggybacking may not be worth the risk in the first place. This is because it might not even work. According to FICO® Score 8, FICO discourages for-profit piggybacking because it reduces the benefits of tradeline renting. Potential credit scoring models that discourage this practice may be underway.

Piggybacking off a complete stranger’s credit may also lead to identity theft. This depends on how the company protects your data and shares it with the primary user. The primary user may have access to your name, address, and social security number. It's a good idea to check to make sure this information will not be shared with the primary user before using this type of piggybacking. Or better yet, be sure the person you piggyback off of is a trusted friend or relative.

Is Piggybacking Credit Legal?

The Credit Pros review

Credit card piggybacking is mostly legal with shades of grey. According to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act 1974, it is legal for a lender or creditor to attach a person’s credit account to someone else. Piggybacking is also legalized by the Federal Reserve Board Regulation B.

However, it’s better to find other forms of building credit before resorting to piggybacking to avoid legal trouble. Companies who offer the service will argue that it’s legal. Others will argue that it violates state laws and is unethical. Be cautious when moving forward with a company who offers credit card piggybacking. Make sure you do your homework and are aware of all state laws before signing anything. You may also want to make sure that the person you are piggybacking with is on the same page.

Credit card piggybacking is legal

Equal Credit Opportunity Act 1974 and Federal Reserve Board Regulation B

Does Piggybacking Credit Actually Work?

You might be able to use credit card piggybacking to boost your credit score a little bit, but it doesn't always work as planned. This is because there are several problems involved with piggybacking credit. First, not all credit card companies will report authorized users activity. They may only report the activity of primary account holders. Even if you are using the account to make purchases and pay them off in a timely manner, this activity might not show up on your report. The only way to ensure that your activity will be reported is to become a primary account holder yourself.

Piggybacking credit card users may find that this method even backfires on them. This is because your activity may be reported on behalf of the primary account holder. In other words, they will get credit for your good financial behavior. It's a good idea to call the credit card company beforehand to ask how reporting is handled to prevent this from happening. This information might be confidential, but it's worth asking about if you're concerned about your credit.

You will also want to keep in mind that piggybacking with an irresponsible primary account holder could hurt your credit. If the primary account holder fails to make payments, this could be negatively reflected on your credit report. Additionally, it could be difficult to become accepted as an authorized user. This is because the primary account holder knows that your activity could hurt their credit, too. If you hurt the other person's credit, it could ruin your relationship with that person. This is something that not even a parent may not want to get involved in with their own child.

As an authorized user, you will want to avoid joining an account with someone who has bad credit. This is because your scores could be negatively impacted be a primary users activity if they act irresponsibly. Likewise, their credit can be impacted by your irresponsible behavior. If you notice that the primary account holder becomes irresponsible, then you may want to call the lender and have your name taken off the account. You may also want to contact the credit bureaus to make sure this activity isn’t reflected on your credit score. If it is, you may need to take additional steps to have it removed. You may even need to hire a credit repair service.

How Long Does It Take To Work Piggybacking?

If you find someone who is willing to let you piggyback off them, then you should be able to be added to the account rather quickly. The good news is that once you’re added to the account, your credit score should materialize instantly. After your first credit report comes out, it should reflect the new information of your primary account holder’s status. This means that their status becomes your status and vice versa. For this reason, make sure you’re working with someone you can trust who won’t drag you down. You will want to make sure you are equally as responsible so you don’t negatively impact their credit.

It may take as long as 15 to 45 days

* Depending on how much documentation and paperwork is needed

Potential Risks Of Credit Piggybacking

There are many potential risks of credit piggybacking.

First, there is the risk that it won’t work. As mentioned above, not all creditors and lenders report your activity as an authorized user. You may need to open a line of credit in your name for that to happen. Authorized users are different than primary account holders. Not all banks and lenders will treat you equally. Be sure to ask the creditor you are working with to see whether or not your activity will be reported.

Next, if you piggyback off someone you know and trust and fail to make payments, it could hurt their credit. This could also hurt your relationship with that person. Likewise, if the primary account holder is not responsible, it could hurt your credit, too. You will want to make sure you’re working with someone you trust. Be sure you’re acting equally as responsible, too.

There are many more risks associated with using for-profit piggybacking. Identity theft is a major concern. This is because the primary account holder may have access to your name, address, and social security number. They will likely be able to see all of your activity on their report. Always be careful when sharing financial information with a complete stranger. It’s better to work with someone you can trust. Remember that you’re at the mercy of the primary account holder. If you’re worried about someone stealing your information, then it’s best to open your own account. Opening your own account also guarantees that all of the credit-boosting activity will be reflected on your report.

Who Can Benefit From Credit Card Piggybacking?

Although credit card piggybacking can boost your credit score going forward, it won’t erase the past. Keep this in mind when looking for ways to boost your credit. You may want to look into a credit repair service if your goal is to remove past negative items from your report. Piggybacking is ideal for someone who is just starting out and does not have credit. It can be a good way to learn the ins and outs of credit and how to make payments. Parents may find that allowing their adult children piggyback off them is helpful. But even a parent may not want to take you on if your financial behavior is irresponsible.

Other people that can benefit from piggybacking are those with bad credit. If you are trying to repair your credit in hopes of being extended a loan, then piggybacking can help. Always use a trusted family member to piggyback off it and be sure to return the favor by practicing good habits. If your credit is good, then be careful with taking on an authorized user who may hurt your credit.

Remember that piggybacking will never be as good for your credit as taking out a line of credit in your own name. This is because the FICO 8 scoring model of 2009 announced that authorized users would not have as much impact on credit scores as before. This is one way that FICO discourages people from piggybacking. It’s a good idea to stay away from anything that FICO frowns upon if you truly want to boost your credit.

Pros and Cons of Credit Card Piggybacking

Although it’s also better to be cautious and find other ways to build your credit, there are some benefits to credit card piggybacking. If you pick the right primary account holder, you can learn how to build your credit through a first-hand example. You are also somewhat protected as an authorized user. This means that the primary account holder’s debt and payments don’t apply to you, but you can still use the account and the credit attached to it.

Here are some pros and cons of credit card piggybacking.

PROS of the Credit Card Piggybacking

  • You can benefit from someone else's good financial behavior without taking out your own line of credit
  • You're not responsible for paying off the debt from the credit card
  • The credit card company cannot come after you if the primary account holder does not pay their dues
  • You can always be removed from the account if the primary account holder starts acting irresponsibly
  • It often costs less to become an authorized user then it does to be a primary account holder
  • There is less risk involved With being an authorized user than a primary account holder
  • You can choose what you make payments on, and there is no minimum amount that you must spend as an authorized user on a primary account
  • It's a good educational tool if you're new to building credit
  • It's a possible way to build credit without taking out a loan yourself

CONS of the Credit Card Piggybacking

  • Piggybacking won't raise your credit score as much as obtaining your own line of credit will
  • Although it is not illegal, piggybacking is frowned upon by FICO
  • Piggybacking can damage your credit score further if the primary account holder is irresponsible
  • Some creditors and lenders do not report your activities as an authorized user. This means that your credit score will not be affected by being a piggybacker.
  • You may damage the relationship between you and the person you are sharing the account with if negative financial behavior is involved
  • There is the risk of identity fraud if you use a for-profit piggybacking system
  • The person you share an account with may have access to your personal information and spending habits
  • It can be hard to find companies who will allow you to piggyback
  • Many state regulations do not allow piggybacking
  • It may take as long as 45 days to be added to someone's account as an authorized user
  • Your credit history becomes the primary account holders credit history once you join their account and vice versa

  • Piggybacking will not remove negative credit items from your past credit reports

What Does It Mean To Be An Piggybacking Authorized User ?

Piggybacks

Being an authorized user on an account is different than being the primary holder. You are not responsible for the debt associated with taking out the line of credit. At the same time, you may also be kept out of potential credit building opportunities. There is no guarantee that your credit will be affected by being an authorized user. It's a good idea to learn about the terms and conditions of being an authorized user before signing to the account.

In most cases, an authorized user is allowed to use the credit card to make purchases and that's it. They are not responsible if the primary account holder fails to make payments or faults on their loan. As an authorized user, your information may or may not be reported to the three major credit reporting bureaus. The best way to ensure that your credit will improve is to take out your own line of credit in your name.

How To Find The Best Piggybacking Credit Companies?

It can be hard to find a company that will allow piggybacking. The internet is full of scammers in companies who pretend to allow the service. Finding a legitimate and reliable company that does piggyback Servicing may take some time. Always remember to do your homework and read between the lines before signing on as an authorized user to anyone's account, especially strangers.

We recommend using Tradeline Supply Company as your for-profit piggybacking service. The company is not a credit repair company. Instead, they offer an online portal where people can buy and sell their trade lines. They also offer free information regarding your tradelines so you can make an educated decision. The service is free to use and connect you to other people who may benefit from connecting to your credit account. The company encourages you to become an affiliate or a broker to help spread the word about the program. In return, you will receive a commission for helping those around you. In other words, it's free to join, and you can even get paid by helping other people.

According to the website, Tradeline Supply Company is easy to use and makes the trade line process as easy as possible. It's a great way to help others learn about credit building and receive incentives to do so. The company does not provide advice on how to boost your credit scores and they do not guarantee any improvements. Instead, they try to educate their clients with general information and provide them with tools to make educated choices. You can share a tradeline with your adult child, a close friend, and other relatives. You can also pair up with a complete stranger to share account responsibilities

You can visit the company's website:

Tradeline Supply Company

Disclaimer

CreditNervana promises to keep our information as accurate and up-to-date as possible. However, you should always consult a financial advisor for specific questions about personal or business finances and investment opportunities, especially if you are looking in your area. Working with a trained professional who is familiar with your case is a safe and guaranteed way to make the best investment decision possible. Please review our terms and conditions before making any decision based on the information we provide. Financial institutions are constantly changing. Because of this, it’s a good idea to cross check the information you read here with any company you are considering working with.

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