At a Glance

Building your history with credit can be difficult when you’ve never borrowed funds before. After all, without a credit history, it will be difficult for a lender to gauge how likely you are to repay a loan. This is where credit piggybacking comes into play. By utilizing this unique strategy, a person with limited credit history, or perhaps none at all, can effectively build up their credit score.

In this article, you’ll learn:

What is credit piggybacking?

For those unfamiliar with the term and wondering what is piggybacking credit, it essentially means being added to another person’s credit account, typically a credit card, as an authorized user. This means that all on-time payments that a person makes on their account, you get credit for as well. This is where the term piggybacking came from, considering the other person is essentially carrying you on their back.

How does piggybacking credit work?

When piggybacking credit on another person’s account, you are an authorized user of that account. For all intents and purposes in the eyes of the credit bureaus, it’s as if you share the account with that purpose. All payments and history associated with that account will appear on your credit report. As an authorized user, you may have access to use the card associated with the account, but the person who added you may keep you on the account in name only. It’s worth noting that piggybacking as an authorized user is not the same as being a joint account holder, and an authorized user is not responsible for payments if the main account holder defaults.

Types of credit piggybacking

When considering utilizing a piggyback credit strategy, there are two primary types of piggybacking to choose from:

1. Traditional piggybacking

Traditional piggybacking on credit is when one person piggybacks on an account owned by someone that they know, whether that person is a family member, friend, or acquaintance. The person adding you to their account often knows you well, however, as putting someone on an authorized account requires an inherent level of trust since they get nothing in return.

2. For-profit piggybacking

On the other hand, for-profit piggybacking on credit occurs when a person reaches out to a credit repair company for help. In return for a fee, the credit repair company matches them with a person who is a cardholder with good credit standing. That person then agrees to add you to their account as an authorized user. You never receive a card to the account under this strategy.

Pros and cons of credit piggybacking

When considering whether credit card piggybacking is right for you, some various pros and cons should be evaluated:

1. Traditional piggybacking

With traditional piggybacking, there are a few notable benefits to mention:

  • Your credit score can improve quickly if the person adding you has good credit
  • You don’t have to pay your friend or family member a fee for their help

As the person being added to the account, there is very little risk. With that said, however, there are notable downsides as well:

  • You are relying on the actions of the person whose account you are being added to, meaning your credit score could drop if they fail to be responsible

2. For-profit piggybacking

When it comes to for-profit piggybacking, the pros are the same as traditional piggybacking in regards to the benefit that can be had from your credit improvement. However, there are some notable cons to be aware of:

  • You will need to pay a fee for the piggybacking services
  • While the other person may start with good credit, you do not know them personally and therefore cannot trust that they will maintain a good credit score in the future
  • You may be opening yourself up to identity theft or fraud

Does credit piggybacking work?

Oftentimes, when evaluating the pros and cons of piggybacking credit, people wonder whether or not the boost from this strategy can help them get approved for a different type of debt. Regarding the efficacy of credit piggybacking services:

1. For credit cards

Generally, when looking at does piggybacking help credit score, the answer is yes. However, using this boosted credit score to apply for a credit card is often unsuccessful as FICO strikes down authorized accounts from the credit score calculation.

2. For auto loans

Auto lenders will strike down an application they receive if it was built on authorized user accounts in the past. Therefore, if your entire credit history is from being an authorized user, you likely won’t be approved.

3. For mortgages

Mortgage lenders most often still use the old FICO scoring method, which means having a credit history built off of being an authorized user will be accepted. However, your credit history may still be questioned if the lender chooses to inquire.

How to build a good score while piggybacking credit?

Piggybacking credit is a great way to get your credit score boosted in the short term, but it shouldn’t be used as the only method for improving your credit. At the same time, consider applying for a secured credit card which requires a cash deposit before borrowing. Alternatively, you could take out a credit-builder loan that is designed for poorer credit scores.

Best practices for credit piggybacking

When looking at how to piggyback credit, there are a few best practices to follow. As a general rule of thumb, be sure you trust whoever it is that you are being added to the account. On top of this, ensure that the credit card is added to your credit report, as well as be sure to check your credit score and report often. If things turn south, remove yourself from the account as an authorized user as soon as possible.


When looking at whether can you piggyback someone’s credit, people often wonder whether or not it’s legal. The answer is that, yes, piggybacking is a legally allowed practice.

The age from which you can add your child as an authorized user depends on the account you are attempting to add them to. Generally, though, the youngest age a person can be added to an account is thirteen years old.

When considering how to piggyback off someone’s credit, people often wonder if it is the same thing as credit repair. Piggybacking off credit is a type of credit repair, but there are many other methods as well, such as obtaining a secured credit card.

Your credit score can improve quickly if it started poorly when you began piggybacking off of the other person’s account. The improvement your score can see could be as much as hundreds of points over many years if your score was extremely poor. However, for most people, the increase would likely be marginal and around 50 points spread out over many months or years.

In as little as 10 – 11 days, you could see improvements to your credit report and your credit score, but the total benefits you would get from this strategy would take far longer.