Burning someone else’s credit score

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Q. I got a credit card and added an authorized user who had an amazing credit score – but I didn’t ask his permission. I wasn’t paying the card in full and I had high balances, so his credit score dropped 50 points. He found out I added him to the card and it’s a mess. Will removing him from the card save his score? What can I do?
— Sorry

A. A mess, for sure.

Drop him from the card immediately, said Sally Herigstad, a certified public accountant and columnist with CreditCards.com.

She said because he is only an authorized user, he can easily be disentangled from the card and all its credit score consequences.

“By the time the credit cards report to the credit bureaus again, his credit history and score should revert back to where it would have been without the card,” Herigstad said.

Next, you need to worry about your own score.

It sounds like you’re not delinquent yet, you just have a high balance. This affects your debt-to-available credit ratio, which lowers your score, Herigstad said.

“One way to improve the ratio is to ask to have your credit limit raised, or to apply for more credit elsewhere. If having more credit available may tempt you to spend more, however, I’d rather see your credit score suffer for a little bit while you work to get on a budget and pay off debt,” she said.

Your long-term financial success is more important than a quick credit score fix.

“Take good care of your finances, get out of consumer debt, and for the most part your credit will take care of itself,” she said.

We wonder why you added your authorized user to your card in the first place, and secretly. It’s always a bad idea and we hope you’ll never go there again.

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This post was first published in February 2017.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.