Question: A friend of mine is an authorized user on a credit card in which the primary card holder has a large balance. How can she get her name off of this card and is she responsible for paying off the balance, none of which is her charges. Lastly, does this affect her credit? Any help would be appreciated.

Answer: Nice of you to ask for your friend. Now, assuming she really is an authorized user and not a joint holder of the credit card, your friend is in good shape. All she has to do is call the credit card company and ask to be taken off the credit card. In some cases, the credit card issuer may need authorization from the primary card holder. In any case, your friend is not responsible for paying off the balance.

The idea of being an authorized user is that as the term implies, you're authorized or allowed to use the card. It's a nice gig. The primary card holder takes the risk that the authorized user will spend the card into oblivion and technically has no obligation to pay off the balance.

That doesn't mean there's no risk for the authorized user, as your friend has found out. If the primary user of this card has been missing payments left and right, then your friend's credit history will take a hit too, because credit reporting doesn't care who swiped the card. But if the primary user simply has a large balance that your friend is uncomfortable with, once she's off the card, the change should be reflected in her own credit score before very long. Maybe 90 days at the longest.

Now, if your friend cosigned the credit card agreement with the primary cardholder, it's a joint account, which is a completely different ball of wax. In that case, closing the account is probably the best option.


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