Selling Tradelines: How Much I Make and How You Can Get StartedSide Hustles
We may receive a commission if you sign up or purchase through links on this page. Here's more information.
Selling tradelines is the practice of making money by adding authorized users every month to your credit cards.
The tradeline buyer potentially gets a quick credit boost, and you — the tradeline seller — make potentially hundreds of dollars for a few minutes of your time.
And by the way, the buyer’s authorized user credit card gets shipped to you, not them, meaning that they never have access to your actual credit line.
Table of Contents
How I Got Involved Selling Tradelines
When my brother-in-law told me about selling tradelines a few years ago, I didn’t believe him.
As a risk-averse CPA, I was very ambivalent about making money in this way; it sounded risky if not flat-out illegal to earn an income by adding people I don’t know to my credit cards.
But after looking into it, I became comfortable with selling tradelines and have since made tens of thousands of dollars doing it.
And while there are definitely risks you should be aware of before you sell tradelines — risks that I will let you know about in this article — it’s definitely not illegal and for most people the rewards outweigh the risks.
Last month, in fact, I made $1,410 simply by selling tradelines on my credit cards. I didn’t have to find the buyers, either — I worked with a reputable broker to do that (email me at [email protected] if you’d like me to introduce you to my broker).
How Much Can You Make Selling Tradelines?
How much you make selling tradelines on a particular credit card depends on a variety of factors, but the two most important are the card’s credit limit and the age of the card.
This is because the whole reason why somebody would want to purchase a tradeline i.e. be added as an authorized user on somebody else’s (such as your) credit card is to improve their credit.
Being added as an authorized user to a card with a high credit limit can decrease a buyer’s credit utilization, and being added to an older card can increase their average age of accounts, both of which can increase their credit score.
So in general, the older the card, and the higher the credit limit, the more valuable your card is from a tradeline perspective.
Selling Tradelines Examples
So for example, I have a Fidelity credit card with a $33,000 credit limit that I opened in 2017. On this card, I make $120 per month per authorized user I add.
But I also have a Chase credit card with a $25,000 credit limit that I opened in 2015. On this card, I make $110 per month per authorized user I add — over 90% as much per user as I make on the card with the $33,000 credit limit.
But the Fidelity card has a credit limit over 30% more than the Chase card’s, so why is the payout of the Chase card almost as much as the payout of the Fidelity card?
The reason is the age — the Chase card is two years older.
So How Much Can You Make?
I can’t tell you exactly how much you’ll make on each of your tradelines. That depends on the card as well as how many authorized users you’re comfortable adding per card per month.
I limit myself to two authorized users per month per card, and I’ll tell you why later in this article.
If you’re curious how much you could make with your credit cards, email me at [email protected]. I will then introduce you to my tradelines broker, who will be able to give you a free quote for your cards.
How to Sell Tradelines in 5 Steps
If selling tradelines sounds like something you’d like to do, here is a step-by-step guide on how to sell tradelines.
1. Find tradeline buyers (or work with a broker).
There are two ways you can go about finding tradeline buyers i.e. people who want to be added as an authorized user to somebody else’s credit card.
One way is to find buyers yourself.
This involves marketing, setting prices, taking payment, and client management — all the things involved in running a service business.
While you keep all the profits this way, you also give up your most valuable resource: time.
The other way to get connected with tradeline buyers is to go through a broker who does the legwork of finding buyers, gathering their information, and collecting payments.
A broker will give you a piece of the action by giving you a commission for every successful authorized user that posts to the buyer’s account (email me at [email protected] to be introduced to the broker I use).
2. Gather your tradeline buyers’ information.
Here is the information you will need about each tradeline buyer in order to add him or her as an authorized user to one or more of your credit cards:
- Full legal name including middle initial
- Social security number
- Date of birth
- Home address
- Maiden name (if any)
If you go through a broker, they will handle gathering this information for you.
Every month, my broker sends me a spreadsheet containing the information I need to add each card’s authorized users for that month.
3. Add your tradeline buyers as authorized users on your credit cards by your statement date.
Once you have a buyer’s information, you must add them to your credit card before midnight (Eastern Time) of your credit card’s statement date and leave them on your card for at least 28 days from the statement date.
Your statement date is the date on which your credit card statement is generated every month.
For example, the statement date for my Citi Double Cash card is the seventeenth of each month.
Online vs. Phone Call
The specific method for doing so varies from credit card issuer to credit card issuer as shown in the table below. Note that the list of issuers below is not exhaustive but just covers the major banks.
|Wells Fargo||Name, address||Online|
|Barclays||Name, address, date of birth, SSN||Phone|
|Citi/Regions||Name, address, SSN||Phone|
|Bank of America||Name, address, date of birth, SSN||Phone|
If your bank requires you to add authorized users by phone, you can find the phone number to call on the back of your credit card.
Adding authorized users online depends on the specific credit card, but as an example here is how this is done in Barclays via its online interface:
Step 1: Hover over “Services” and then click “Authorized users”.
Step 2: Click “Add an authorized user” at the bottom.
Step 3: On the screen that follows, input the authorized user’s name.
Step 4: On the screen that follows, input the authorized user’s relationship to you (I generally just put “Friend”), date of birth, citizenship status, and address.
It is imperative that you input the authorized user’s address since their address is often used for credit report matching purposes, especially if your bank does not ask for authorized users’ social security numbers.
Step 5: Ensure the card is sent to your address (not the authorized user’s address since you don’t want them using the card).
Step 6: Click “Continue”.
There is one final confirmation for you to do after clicking “Continue”, and that’s it!
That is how you add sell tradelines and add authorized users to your credit card for extra income.
4. Remove your tradeline buyers after one to two months.
Depending on the arrangement, your authorized user will either remain on your card for one month or for two months (follow your broker’s instructions).
After that point, you should remove the authorized user from your card but no earlier than 28 days.
Removing authorized users is generally very easy to do online. For Barclays cards, you simply log in to your account, go to authorized users, and click “Remove user” underneath the user’s name.
5. Get paid.
Now, if you went out and found buyers on your own, they may have already paid you upfront.
But if you go through a broker like I do, then you will have to wait for the broker to pay you.
Note that (obviously) brokers will only pay you, and buyers will only be satisfied with your service, if the tradeline you add actually “posts,” that is, it actually appears on the tradeline buyer’s credit report.
Risks of Selling Tradelines
Selling tradelines, of course, is an easy way to make an extra few hundred (or thousand) dollars a month, but it’s not without risk.
The biggest risk of selling tradelines is that the credit card company will shut down your credit card.
This actually happened to me before (it was a Chase card).
I believe that the reason was that I got greedy and added too many authorized users to one of my Chase cards (I added three in one month).
This seems to have raised a red flag, and Chase cancelled my card.
Nowadays, I only add up to two authorized users per card per month and would recommend that you stick to that rule as well.
Which Credit Cards Work For Selling Tradelines?
Cards from most major issuers work fine for tradeline purposes except for American Express cards.
This is because many American Express cards are technically charge cards with no set credit limit and so do not help with authorized users’ utilization rates.
Also, business cards won’t work either.
Selling Tradelines and Taxes
As a CPA, let me be the first to tell you that the income you earn from selling tradelines is taxable.
If you sell tradelines through a broker, they will sent you a Form 1099-MISC (or possibly a Form 1099-NEC) after the end of the year reporting the payments you received.
The question, of course, becomes whether you should report this income as miscellaneous income on your tax return or on Schedule C as self-employment income (which would subject you to self-employment tax).
You would want to reach out to a qualified tax professional about your particular situation, but in general if you are just selling a couple tradelines a month through a broker, reporting your income as miscellaneous income will probably be OK.
However, if you are more engaged in your tradeline selling business (actively seeking clients, etc.) then it’s possible you should report your selling tradelines income as self-employment income.
Selling Tradelines FAQs
Selling tradelines can be confusing. These are a few of the most common concerns people have about selling tradelines.
Can authorized users spend my money?
A common concern people have with selling their tradelines is that the authorized user could spend money using your card. In fact, authorized users don’t have access to either the card or the information necessary to defraud your account. With a reliable broker, you won’t have to worry about data security.
Authorized users usually receive their own credit card, but this duplicate will be sent to you if you sell the tradeline tied to that account. You aren’t even required to activate the card, and you’ll remove the user from your account at the end of the agreement.
Can I sell multiple tradelines on the same account?
Credit card companies sometimes shut down accounts for adding too many authorized users, so certain tradeline brokers and credit card companies set a maximum number of users you can work with at a given time. While this limits how much you could earn each month, I was able to make more than $1,000 per month.
The only work involved in selling a tradeline is adding and removing authorized users from your accounts, so there’s no downside to selling the same account at least twice. It can be an effective way to earn money, especially if you can sell tradelines from several accounts. If you have five accounts in good standing, for example, you could be earning income from 10 credit boosters at the same time.
What are the downsides of selling tradelines?
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict whether your credit card company will notice your side hustle and potentially cancel the account. Try to keep each authorized user on your account for at least a few months — switching users too quickly is an obvious sign that you’re selling the tradeline.
While this practice isn’t illegal, some credit card companies will shut down the account if they notice what’s happening. People who buy tradelines artificially inflate their credit score, skewing their perceived risk when they apply for credit later on.
With that in mind, selling tradelines exposes you to the risk of having your account suspended or shut down. Most people don’t experience this issue, but you won’t have any recourse if your company decides you’ve gone too far.
How can I make my tradelines more valuable?
You can increase your earning potential by improving an account’s credit history, making it more valuable to credit boosters. If you’re interested in selling tradelines, start making these changes now, so your account gains value before you’re ready to sell.
Fixing problems in your credit history can also have a positive effect on your own credit score, so consider these strategies whether or not you’re planning to sell tradelines.
Increase Your Credit Limit
A higher credit limit is one of the most effective ways to increase the value of a tradeline. Accounts with higher credit limits and lower credit utilization are more attractive to buyers and therefore command a higher commission.
You can request to increase your account’s credit limit by calling your bank, or navigating the website or mobile app. These decisions are based on a variety of factors, but people with good standing have a good chance of approval, assuming they haven’t recently received another increase.
Monitor Credit Utilization
Some people assume missed and late payments are the only factors that could hurt your credit, but credit utilization plays an almost equally important role in determining your score. Using more of your limit has a negative impact on your credit, and experts advise keeping your usage below 30%.
To maximize the value of their tradelines, brokers often require sellers to keep their credit utilization below a given limit. This could be an issue if you need to use more than that amount to cover important expenses.
Give Your Accounts Time
If you recently opened an account, don’t expect it to be worth anything for the first two years, longer if you miss payments. Your tradeline will slowly accumulate value as long as you make on-time payments and keep your credit utilization low.
Each on-time payment has a positive effect on a tradeline, but there’s no way to build credit history overnight. Improving your credit is a long-term process, both with respect to individual tradelines and your overall score.
Two years is generally the youngest age at which brokers will consider selling your account, but there’s still significant room for growth after that. Tradelines generally become more valuable as time goes on and the cardholder continues to demonstrate reliability.
Selling a single tradeline doesn’t involve much work, but things get more complicated once you’re responsible for more authorized users.
Keeping a notebook or spreadsheet to remind you when to add and remove authorized users and when to expect payment is vital once you start selling more than one tradeline.
I earn more than $1,000 per month simply by selling my tradelines, and I typically have a number of authorized users across several accounts.
Without a spreadsheet to refer to, I would have no way to keep track of these transactions and ensure that I remove users at the right times.
Know the Law
While selling tradelines is legal, there are some concerns you should be aware of.
The industry isn’t exactly standardized, so you need to know the details of a broker’s practices well before providing any sensitive information.
With such significant differences from one business to another, it’s easy to do something illegal without realizing the difference.
While some people believe that selling tradelines involves misrepresenting your own credit history, you shouldn’t run into any legal issues.
That said, the practice could be against your credit card provider’s terms of service, so make sure to read the relevant sections.
Some tradeline brokers also increase the risk of illegal activity by failing to perform their due diligence, including background checks of both sellers and buyers.
Working with a broker that doesn’t perform a thorough background check could expose you to fraud.
This is another reason to carefully evaluate the reputations of every broker as you consider your options.
Selling tradelines isn’t a common or well-known side hustle, but it’s a simple and quick way to set up a source of reliable income.
These tips will help you identify a secure and reputable tradeline broker and consistently increase your earnings by improving your credit history.
Work With a Reputable Broker
Selling tradelines is a lucrative opportunity, but as mentioned in this article it’s not without risks.
If you’re new to the business, it may be worth your while to first work with somebody — like a broker — who has been in the industry for a while and can walk you through the process.
Obviously, you will keep all the profits if you find buyers yourself, but doing that is frankly more of a side hustle than passive income.
If you’d like an introduction to the tradeline broker I’ve been working with for over two years now, shoot me an email at [email protected].
Logan is a practicing CPA and founder of Choice Tax Relief and Money Done Right. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.