Piggy bank floating in ocean with cloudy weather with Illinois Extension I Block logo in top right corner and wordmark in bottom left corner

When I got my first credit card many years ago, I thought I was ready for all the responsibilities that came with managing this type of credit. Even though I did my due diligence to research the card company and believed I could afford to make my monthly payments, there were a lot of things I didn’t consider. I didn’t realize how having a balance close to my limit would affect my credit score. When I no longer wanted to have credit through that company, I also didn’t think through my rushed decision to close the card.

A man typing on a computer while holding up a credit card

I had a few conversations with a friend who decided to add a loved one to his credit card as an authorized user. Over the years, we had many discussions about some of the challenges he faced building his credit history as an immigrant with a thin credit file. He had been a joint account holder in previous situations, and now he was in a position to help someone else. Like my friend, I have been a primary account holder, joint account holder, and an authorized user, which lead me down this path to talk more to colleagues, do research, and write about piggybacking credit.