Can I Kick My Parents Off Our Credit Card?


Sometimes, removing your name from your parents’ credit card (or vice versa) has its advantages. For starters — it’s kind of nice to handle your own bills without getting the glowering stink eye about your spending sprees on the card’s statement. And while you’re on the card, your credit is generally linked to your parents’ credit, so if your parents are irresponsible, you’ll look irresponsible too, said Eric Lindeen, vice president of marketing for ID Analytics in San Diego, California.

“It can be a great financial head start to be listed on a parent’s card, but [it] can become awkward or damaging if their credit isn’t sterling,” he said.

To get an idea of how your parents’ card use may be affecting your credit, it’s a good idea to check your credit report. That’s because if your name is listed on a shared credit card account, the good and bad habits of all users can show up on your credit report.

“It should be easy to spot problems and decide if you should remove yourself from the card,” Lindeen said. “A horrible card will be less than a year old, maxed out, with multiple late payments.”

You can pull your credit reports for free each year at You can also watch for changes by viewing two of your credit scores for free every 14 days on If you ultimately decide it’s time to go your separate credit ways, the next steps vary, depending on how the account is shared. Here’s a rundown of your options.

1. If You’re an Authorized User on Your Parent’s Card

You can breathe a huge sigh of relief if you’re an authorized user, because you’ll have no responsibility for repayment of the credit card’s debt, according to Rod Griffin, director of public education at credit bureau Experian. If you want to come off the account, call the card company to learn its policy for removing your name. It normally only takes a call to remove authorized users, although the issuer may request a letter, or for the person responsible for the account to contact them directly, which could admittedly get awkward.

“The biggest challenge in a situation like this is having the conversation with the parent (or more often, the child) to explain the action. We can hope they accept graciously,” said Lindeen.

In addition to contacting the card issuer, you should also get in touch with the three major credit reporting agencies to have the account removed from your credit report.

“Experian will remove authorized user accounts from the credit history upon request,” said Griffin. This step is particularly important if your parents’ credit card habits are a little irresponsible.

You can go here to learn about disputing errors on your credit report.

2. If Your Parent Is an Authorized User on Your Account

Let’s say you were helping your parent rebuild credit by adding them as an authorized user to one of your accounts, but the process has gone awry: You can call to have them removed from the account. However, keep in mind, while this removal can prevent future problems, it won’t eliminate any black marks mom or dad have already added to your credit report.

“An authorized user can definitely damage a primary cardholders’ credit report, as the primary cardholder assumes all responsibility for the [authorized user’s] activity,” said Sukhi Sahni, director of communications and marketing public relations for Capital One.

In other words, as a primary accountholder, you’re considered liable for the debts your parents may have run up — and, if those debts caused you to miss any payments on the card, you’ll have to wait for those to age off of your credit report.

3. If It’s a Joint Account

If you are a joint accountholder on the card in question, you can move to have the account closed. Either party can unilaterally close the account by contacting the card issuer over the phone or in writing. Once closed, the cards of both joint account holders and any authorized cardholders will be deactivated, and any future attempt to make purchases will be declined. But both parties are generally still considered on the hook for any debt remaining on the card. And, yes, those debts and/or missed payments will likely appear on your credit report until they’re paid down or age off, respectively.


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Does Everything on My Credit Report Affect My Credit Scores?

Credit reports, as you’ve no doubt heard, are tremendously important. After all, the information on them dictates your credit scores, which, in turn, dictate whether you’re able to readily score things like a mortgage, auto loan, credit card and even affordable insurance or cellphone plans.

But not every piece of information on that crucial report carries weight.

Personal Info Is a No-Go

“No identifying information affects credit scores,” Rod Griffin, director of public education at Experian, said in an email. “That includes things like your name, address, previous addresses, date of birth, Social Security number and so on. I’m sometimes asked if your ZIP code is considered in credit scores. It is not.”

Your age also isn’t technically factored in your credit scores, Griffin said. (It is true, however, that older folks tend to net higher numbers than younger ones, all factors being equal, because your length of credit history — determined primarily by the length of your oldest credit account and the average age of all your accounts put together — is a major component of most credit scoring models.)

And employment information, including your salary, occupation, employer and job history can sometimes appear on your credit report, but it’s generally not factored in traditional credit scores.

Making a Statement 

Credit scores, too, generally don’t factor in statements a consumer adds to their credit reports, such as fraud alerts or disputes.

“However, the statements may cause the application to be delayed in order to verify your identity or explain or document why you disagree with dispute results, which is exactly what should happen,” Griffin said.

Statements indicating that an account is being repaid through credit counseling do not technically affect your score.

But “if the counseling service negotiates debt settlement on your behalf, the account could then be reported as ‘settled,’ which will hurt credit scores,” Griffin said. “It’s the status of the account, not the statement, that affects the score. The term ‘settled’ indicates the account was not paid in full, or as agreed under contract.”

Still, some lenders may view a statement referring to credit counseling as a positive, he said, “because it shows that you have taken initiative to try to learn how to manage your credit and debt more wisely.”

The Skinny on Inquiries (& Authorized Users)

Soft inquiries — essentially those unrelated to a consumer’s request for financing — may appear on your personal credit report but won’t damage your credit in the same way that a hard inquiry will.

“Inquiries for employment purposes, insurance, pre-approved offers, account reviews by existing lenders, and getting your own report do not affect credit scores,” Griffin said. “Only inquiries resulting from your application for credit are shared with lenders and could affect credit scores.”

Finally, Griffin said, credit reports may show that you are an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account. But that account should only affect your scores if the payment history associated with them is positive.

“If [the] payments become late, you can request that the account be removed,” he said. “So being an authorized user on an account can help credit scores but shouldn’t hurt them.”

Aiming for Accuracy

Of course, you shouldn’t discount errors regarding any of the aforementioned pieces of info that may appear on your credit report, given that they aren’t actually affecting your scores. Inaccurate information, like an unfamiliar address or out-of-left-field soft inquiry, could be a sign identity theft has occurred. So if you discover any, you should still dispute the information with the credit bureau in question.

You may also want to consider putting a fraud alert or even a credit freeze on your credit reports. At the very least, you should continue to monitor your credit closely to help make sure no fraudulent accounts have been taken out in your name. You can pull your credit reports each year for free on and view your free credit report summary, updated each month, on

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

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