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Joint Cardholders Building Credit

Reader Carl recently asked me whether or not you build credit with a joint credit card:

I’m a nineteen year old guy, and opened my first credit card account at Best Buy, in order to buy a laptop for school, along with other “necessities.” Mind you, this was in 2009, and it was incredibly hard to find credit, so I had to co-sign with my dad.

Now I hold a total of three credit cards: Best Buy, Express Clothing (my first independent credit card), and my Bank of America Visa card. My BB card has a $2,300 limit, Express $250, and Boa $2,000. During a recent conversation with one of the bankers at BoA, they informed me that my BB card really doesn’t help my credit report, as it’s not necessarily my “own” credit card. Should I close the first account, and attempt to reopen one in only my name?

I disagree with the bankers at BoA, the BB card does help your credit report because you are a joint accountholder on the card. You and your dad are both on the hook for the debt and it’s reported on your credit report. Many students are put on as authorized users on credit cards, because they can’t get their own, and even that (they aren’t even responsible for the charges) helps build your credit report.

Another point that they should’ve said is that with the Express Clothing and BoA card, you don’t need another credit card for credit building purposes. I suspect their comments may have been spurred on by a desire to sign you up to another BoA credit card! (or Carl misunderstood)

At this point, the best thing you can do to help your credit and credit score is to use the cards responsibly. Stay within your limits, pay off your balance in full, and don’t do anything silly. 🙂