Why Do Some Banks Ask for an Authorized User’s Social Security Number?

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Million Mile Secrets reader, Vin, commented:

Some banks do ask for social security number for any authorized card user account.  Does this mean they run a credit check before approving the authorized user? Or just have it on file in case I don’t pay?

Why do they need the social security number if the primary user is responsible?

Thanks for commenting, Vin!

Certain banks ask for a social security number when you add an authorized user.  But they still do NOT run a credit check.

Why Do Some Banks Ask For An Authorized Users Social Security Number
Why Do Banks Like AMEX and Barclaycard Ask for an Authorized User’s Social Security Number?

I’ll explain the pros and cons of becoming an authorized user and why some banks want your social security number!

Why Become an Authorized User?

You can help a friend or family member meet minimum spending requirements and earn added perks.  And I’ve written about other ways folks can benefit from adding users to their credit card accounts.

But authorized users also get some of their own perks without having to sign-up for a new card!

Why Do Some Banks Ask For An Authorized Users Social Security Number
Primary Account Holders Aren’t the Only Ones Who Benefit, Authorized Users Get Perks Too!

Travel & Cash Back

American Express authorized users will receive their own targeted AMEX Offers to earn cash back on purchases they’d make anyway!  They’ll also earn bonus points for spending in certain bonus categories, depending on the card.

And while your miles, points, or cash back go the primary account holder, if you’re nice I bet they’ll share!

Enjoy Extra Perks

Authorized users on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® now get access to the American Airlines Admirals Club!  This is a fantastic new perk!  And it doesn’t cost anything to add a new user to your account.

The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders can pay a $175 total annual fee for up to 3 additional cards and $175 for each following card.  Authorized users also get lounge access (at Delta, AMEX Centurion, Airspace, & Priority Club lounges), TSA Precheck or Global Entry credit, Hilton Gold status, and Starwood Gold status.

Build a Credit History

More importantly, authorized user cards can help folks with little to no credit, like teenagers and stay-at-home moms, start building a credit history and increase their score.

For example, parents sometimes add their teenagers (and hang onto or keep a close eye on the card) to give them a head start on good credit.  And the parents get the extra discounts and benefits!

This can also help folks who are new to the US begin establishing good credit.

Why Do Some Banks Ask For An Authorized Users Social Security Number
Being an Authorized User Can Help Establish Your Credit History. And Soon You’ll Qualify for Your Own Travel Cards to Earn Big Bonuses

If you already have good credit and the primary cardholder does too, it’s unlikely this will have a significant impact on your score.

Just make sure you trust that the primary cardholder handles their credit responsibly.  If they don’t pay their bills on time or if they max out the card, this will negatively impact your credit score!

Also, the primary cardholder can remove you at any time and this may also impact your score.  That’s because the account will be removed from your credit report.  The could change your length of credit history as well as your debt-to-credit ratio.

Why Do Some Banks Ask for the Authorized User’s Social Security Number?

Banks do NOT pull a credit report for authorized user accounts, because the primary account holder is responsible for the charges.  And that’s good news because hard pulls can lower your credit score by ~3 to ~5 points

But certain banks like AMEX and Barclaycard still ask for the authorized user’s social security number, to add the new account to their credit report (Citi and Chase don’t require this information).

Why Do Some Banks Ask For An Authorized Users Social Security Number
Banks Ask for the Authorized User’s Social Security Number to Add the Account History to Their Credit Report

So if you’re trying to improve your credit score with an authorized user account, these are good banks to start with because you know the account will be added to your credit report.

Banks that don’t require this information, may still add the account to your credit report by matching up the rest of the personal information you provided.

Bottom Line

As an authorized user, you can help the primary account holder meet minimum spending requirements and earn extra perks.

Banks do NOT run a credit check on authorized user credit reports.  But sometimes they’ll ask for a social security number.  This helps them add the history of the account to your credit report.

If the primary account holder has good credit, this could give your credit score a boost!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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