What Is Credit Piggybacking?

Jim B.
Jim B.
Man climbing a rope
Man climbing a rope

Credit piggybacking is a way for individuals to increase their sagging credit scores by being included on accounts which have excellent scores. If recognized by the authorities in charge of calculating credit scores, this practice can essentially improve the credit score of the person with bad credit, allowing them to qualify for loans and other types of credit at favorable rates. The practice of credit piggybacking is only able to increase credit scores if the person in question is a close relation of the person with good credit, such as a spouse, child, or parent. In some cases, credit companies allow consumers to buy their way on to the credit accounts of strangers, a questionable practice that often will not result in an improved score.

When a person has a bad credit rating, it can be a serious financial calamity. Such people are often unable to get financing for major expenditures in their life, a situation which can exacerbate their already perilous financial standing. There are certain practices that can allow for some type of credit score improvement. One such practice is credit piggybacking, which allows those with poor credit scores to benefit from those with better scores.

The process of credit piggybacking is possible if a person has bad credit but has a familial relationship with someone in much better standing. If this is the case, they can "piggyback" on the good account by being named as an authorized user of that person's credit. As a result, the positive standing of the account, when applied to the piggybacker's low credit score, raises it up.

There are some drawbacks to the practice of credit piggybacking for both parties. For the person with bad credit, they often lose the freedom to make financial decisions on their own, since they have to be concerned with how their actions affect their relation. By contrast, the person with good standing must be wary of the risk involved that the person piggybacking on the account can lower their good credit score by continuing the practices that got them in bad credit shape in the first place.

In most cases, an authorized user for a credit piggybacking system must be someone closely related to the person with good credit. There are certain credit companies that, for a fee, will allow those with bad credit to piggyback with people with good credit even if there is no personal relationship between the two. This practice often resides in a legal gray area, however, and many credit agencies have taken steps to make sure that this it does not improve the rating of those who pay the fee.

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Discussion Comments


I have not used my Macy's card since 2003. Macy's has to re-verify my credit, income, etc., so I can use the card. How much will this affect my credit score? My husband and I have excellent credit and only a small balance on a visa card. Also a house note that is paid promptly every month.

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