What Is Piggybacking Credit?

Piggybacking credit is having a third party, a creditworthy individual, add you to their credit card as an authorized user. This will allow you to receive the credit benefits from that account, helping you improve your own credit score fast.

How Does Piggybacking Credit Work?

Once someone adds you as an authorized user to their credit card, then that credit card will show up on your credit report as well. It will backdate the history of the account to the date of which the primary cardholder opened the account. This will help you add years and years of credit history to your credit report in as little as a few days.

For example, let’s say you get added to a credit card that was opened 30 years ago. Even though you only got added to the account a few days ago, your credit history will show the full 30 years of history. This will give your credit score a nice boost.

The Use of Piggybacking Credit

Piggybacking credit is actually meant to give a parent/spouse, etc. a chance to help their child/spouse, etc. start building credit. By adding a child/spouse to a credit card, they give their child/spouse a great head start to start building their own credit.

Piggybacking credit was so effective that there were many companies around the web that have started offering piggybacking services. These companies basically partner you up with a third party who has a good old account and is ready to add you to their account for a fee. The primary cardholder is taking absolutely no risk because he is the one who will be receiving your credit card in the mail. Therefore, you will never have any access to the credit card account and cannot swipe any money on it. Regardless, you receive the credit benefits of being an authorized user to the account.

Does Piggybacking Credit Still Work?

FICO (the company which created the scoring models used by most lenders) did not like piggybacking. The reasoning behind their disliking piggybacking is very simple; Piggybacking allows consumers who do not deserve a higher credit score fool the system and pay a few dollars to some company, get added to an account, and reap credit benefits.

Therefore, in the newer scoring models starting from FICO 08, FICO stopped counting in accounts where you are only an authorized user. FICO does have a legal obligation under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to allow piggybacking. Fico claims to have a way of knowing if the piggybacking is from a legitimate source or from an unrelated third party.

When Does Piggybacking Still Work?

The only good news is that mortgage loans still use the older FICO scoring models. Therefore, piggybacking credit still works to boost your score when applying for a mortgage. Piggybacking credit can be a great tool to use to boost your FICO score by 100 or more points, in just a few days. This can save you, potentially, thousands of dollars in interest payments.

Is Piggybacking Credit Legal?

The Equal Lending Act (12 CFR § 1002.6 (b) (6)) states the following: “In evaluating the creditworthiness of an applicant, a creditor shall consider the history, when available of accounts designated as accounts that the applicant and the applicants spouse are permitted to use or for which both are contractually liable.” In other words, scoring models need to count into their scoring models the history from any account of which the applicant is an AU, as long as the primary cardholder is the applicant’s spouse. The problem is that scoring models have no way of knowing if the primary cardholder is a spouse or not. So for that reason, they will count in any AU account, no matter if it’s a spouse or not. (There are banks who won’t report AU accounts to the credit bureaus if they know that the primary cardholder is not a spouse. In such a case, being an AU to a non-spouse account would not help you build credit).

Knowingly changing accurate information on your credit report in order to qualify for a loan that you’re really not eligible for, can be a fraud.  But getting added as an AU to an account, even if you’re not really the primary card holder’s spouse, (or if you just paid a piggybacking credit company to add you to a good aged account) is not illegal. You did not do anything illegitimate, as the information that is being reported to the credit bureaus is 100 percent accurate. You’re being reported to be an AU on account number xxxxx. You never stated if this account is your spouse’s or not; neither did you specifically mention if you’re responsible for the payments or not. It’s not your fault that the scoring models decided to use this account to calculate your score. You never asked them to do it, nor do you need to know anything about that.

Seasonal Trade Lines

Different, though, are seasonal tradelines which are 100 percent fraud. You’re paying a company to create a false trade line that never existed and add it to your credit report. This trade line is being reported as a trade line that belongs to you and has x amount of history. But truthfully, this tradeline never existed.

I hope this helps you understand the differences between Piggybacking and Seasonal Trade Lines. Let me just add this: I am not an attorney, so for any legal advice please consult a licensed attorney.

Want to ask me credit questions? You can enter them in the comments or email me at sam@helpmebuildcredit.com.

Hope this helps. Thanks!