Why You Should Avoid Buying Tradelines - Experian (2024)

Experian, TransUnion and Equifax now offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com.

In this article:

  • How Buying Tradelines Works
  • Is It Illegal to Buy Tradelines?
  • What's the Difference Between Buying Tradelines and Becoming an Authorized User?
  • Alternative Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast

Buying a tradeline is one way to improve your credit score, but it can be costly, and you could be putting yourself at risk of identity theft. What's more, lenders consider the practice to be deceptive.

As a result, buying tradelines isn't advised, and there are better ways to build your credit. Here's what you need to know about the practice and the risks involved.

How Buying Tradelines Works

A tradeline is another name for a credit account that shows up on your credit reports. Each loan and credit card has a separate tradeline that includes various information about the creditor and the account.

Buying a tradeline involves paying someone to add you to one of their credit accounts, typically as an authorized user on a credit card. Because many credit card companies report account activity to the credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) for both the primary cardholder and authorized users, their positive account history can potentially help improve your credit.

Tradeline companies act as intermediaries, connecting buyers and sellers for an additional fee. Depending on the account's credit limit and age, the cost can range from a few hundred dollars to upwards of $1,000.

You'll also need to provide a copy of your driver's license and your Social Security number. Once you've completed the process, you'll be added to the seller's tradeline for a couple of months, after which you'll be removed. The account will remain on your credit report as "closed" and can remain on your report for up to seven years.

Is It Illegal to Buy Tradelines?

There is no law against buying tradelines to improve your credit. However, buying tradelines may be viewed as deceptive by lenders and credit reporting agencies and could even put you in danger of committing bank fraud.

Credit scores are designed to help lenders determine a borrower's creditworthiness, and most use your credit scores and credit reports to determine whether to approve a credit application and what terms you qualify for.

If you pay money to improve your credit scores without doing any of the work or even getting a card to use, you could be falsely representing your creditworthiness to potential lenders.

What's the Difference Between Buying Tradelines and Becoming an Authorized User?

When you buy a tradeline, you're technically becoming an authorized user on another person's credit card account. However, unlike the traditional authorized user process, you don't know the person who's adding you to their account, and you're paying for the service.

With a traditional authorized-user scenario—which is acceptable and even encouraged by credit card companies and credit bureaus—a family member or friend adds you to their credit card account.

In this situation, you don't have to pay the primary account holder, and you'll typically get a card linked to the account that you can use (with the primary cardholder's approval) to develop good credit habits.

Buying tradelines will do nothing to help you build good credit habits because you won't have access to the account. And, if you buy a tradeline from an individual rather than through a service, which can protect your personal information, you may be at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.

Alternative Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast

If your credit needs some work, buying a tradeline may seem like a quick fix. However, it won't have as much of a positive impact as some of the alternatives. Here are some other ways to improve your credit score fast.

Pay Down Credit Card Debt

Your credit utilization rate, calculated by dividing a credit card's balance by its credit limit, is a major factor in your credit score. If you have a high utilization rate, paying down your balance can help improve your credit score as soon as the account gets reported again to the credit reporting agencies.

There's no hard-and-fast rule for what your utilization rate should be—the lower, the better—but as you start paying down your balance, you may start seeing your credit score increase.

Dispute Credit Report Inaccuracies

If there are erroneous or fraudulent tradelines on your credit reports, they could bring down your credit score. Get a free copy of your report from each of the credit reporting agencies through AnnualCreditReport.com and review them for potential problem accounts.

You can also monitor your FICO® Score and Experian credit report more regularly through Experian's free credit monitoring service.

If you find errors on your report, you have the right to dispute them directly with the credit reporting agency, as well as with the creditor. If the credit bureaus confirm your dispute and either remove or correct the information, your credit score will respond accordingly.

Sign Up for Experian Boost®ø

Historically, utilities, rent and streaming subscriptions haven't been included in your credit scores. But with Experian Boost, you can now get credit for making these regular monthly payments.

Once you register, you can link your financial accounts and allow Experian to identify your positive payment history. Then, you'll verify the data and confirm you want it included in your Experian credit file. Once you do so, your FICO® Score will be updated immediately, possibly resulting in a credit score boost.

Focus on Developing Good Credit Habits

There's no guarantee you'll get the benefits you're paying for when buying a tradeline, and there are ethical and potential legal issues to consider with the practice.

If your goal is to improve your credit score and keep it in good shape, the best way to do that is to develop and practice good credit habits. Make your payments on time every month, keep your credit card balances relatively low, pay them in full each month and avoid unnecessary debt.

As you establish a positive credit history over time, check your credit score regularly to track your progress. Focusing on good credit habits rather than quick fixes will give you a much better chance of maintaining it where you want it to be in the long run.

Why You Should Avoid Buying Tradelines - Experian (2024)


Can tradelines mess up your credit? ›

Inaccurate information. Your credit score may suffer if the information associated with an added tradeline is inaccurate or outdated. Make sure your tradelines' details accurately reflect your financial behavior, including payment history, balance, and credit limit.

Do tradelines help your FICO score? ›

Tradelines are part of what makes the information on your credit report. Positive tradelines generally help you build credit, while negative tradelines can lower your credit score.

Does signing up for Experian hurt credit? ›

Checking your own credit report or score won't affect your credit scores. It's an example of a soft inquiry—a request for credit info that does not affect credit scores. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax now offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com.

Why are tradelines illegal? ›

Anything can be abused, so tradelines could be illegal if they were used fraudulently. Being added as an authorized user is perfectly legal. Whether you do crazy stuff like use credit profile numbers…

Are tradelines risky? ›

It's important to note that mismanaging your trade lines can have serious implications on your credit scores. Instances of late payments, defaults or high balances can tarnish your credit history.

How fast will a tradeline boost my credit? ›

Seasoned tradelines are considered to be the best tradeline. It can significantly affect your credit score because of its credit history. A report by Finance Monthly states that purchasing 2-3 seasoned tradelines can help increase your credit score by 720-850 in just one month.

How can I raise my credit score 200 points in 30 days? ›

Try paying debts and maintaining your credit utilisation ratio of 30% or below. There are two ways through which you can pay off your debts, which are as follows: Start paying off older accounts from lowest to highest outstanding balances. Start paying off based on the highest to lowest rate of interest.

How can I raise my credit score 100 points overnight? ›

10 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score
  1. Review Your Credit Report. ...
  2. Pay Your Bills on Time. ...
  3. Ask for Late Payment Forgiveness. ...
  4. Keep Credit Card Balances Low. ...
  5. Keep Old Credit Cards Active. ...
  6. Become an Authorized User. ...
  7. Consider a Credit Builder Loan. ...
  8. Take Out a Secured Credit Card.

Are tradelines worth buying? ›

Buying a tradeline is one way to improve your credit score, but it can be costly, and you could be putting yourself at risk of identity theft. What's more, lenders consider the practice to be deceptive. As a result, buying tradelines isn't advised, and there are better ways to build your credit.

What are the disadvantages of Experian? ›

The main disadvantage of Experian is that, unlike FICO, it is rarely used as a stand-alone tool to make credit decisions. Even lenders that review credit reports in detail rather than go off a borrower's numerical score often look at results from all three bureaus, not just Experian.

Can I trust Experian? ›

Credit scores from the three main bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) are considered accurate. The accuracy of the scores depends on the accuracy of the information provided to them by lenders and creditors. You can check your credit report to ensure the information is accurate.

Is Experian worth using? ›

Experian reviews

On Trustpilot the company has a 3.8 (great) customer rating based on 56,465 reviews with 51% of ratings being five stars. This generally indicates a positive customer experience from users of Experian's services.

Do tradelines last forever? ›

Tradelines can stay on your credit for up to 10 years, depending on whether they are closed or remain open, and whether they were closed in good standing or due to non-payment.

Can lenders see tradelines? ›

The tradelines in your credit report are used primarily for calculating your credit score. But lenders also look at your tradelines when reviewing your credit application. For instance, if you have a high balance on a credit card, a lender will note your credit limit to determine your credit utilization.

How long does a tradeline stay on your credit? ›

Every tradeline will be included in your report for at least seven years, and possibly longer. Fortunately, positive tradelines stay longer than negative tradelines. As long as any account is open and active, the tradeline will stay on your credit report.

Do credit line increases affect your credit? ›

If you request a credit limit increase, your credit card issuer may perform a hard inquiry on your credit, which may temporarily lower your credit scores. If an issuer automatically raises a cardholder's credit limit, it may involve a soft inquiry, which doesn't affect credit scores.

How many tradelines should I have to build credit? ›

There is no perfect number of tradelines, but if your goal is to build business credit, you will probably want to make sure your business credit report lists at least two to three accounts reporting to business credit bureaus.

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