Credit cards are one of the most powerful wealthy building tools in existence today when used properly. They get a bad rap because irresponsible people rack up massive quantities of high interest debt and spend decades digging out if they ever get out. Still, credit cards can put a lot of ka-ching in your pocket if you understand the rules and never run a balance on the card.
If you are in the accumulation phase of your wealth building cycle, looking for a high income compared to the time invested or love gaming the system (your favorite accountant is guilty as charged), then you need to learn about tradelines.
To play this game you need a credit card at least two years old. The longer you’ve held the card and the higher the credit limit the better. This game requires you use said credit card and pay it off in full each month. The more credit cards you have the better.
Setting the Table
So what is this tradelines thing anyway? A tradeline is what a bank calls a line of credit. Your credit card is a tradeline.
A “seasoned” tradeline is at least two years old meaning it has a history. If you have no late payments on a seasoned card there is an active market for selling your tradeline.
Still confused? Me, too. It works like this. A credit card is called a tradeline. You can add authorized users (AU) to most credit cards at any time. People with poor credit pay to be an authorized user of your credit card so the bank reports the high unused credit limit on their credit report. This increases their credit score fairly quickly.
You know who they are, but they haven’t a clue who you are! A big concern surrounds risk of having your card cancelled. What if someone buys your tradeline and runs off spending all your money? No worries mate. It’s impossible. When you use a company acting as clearinghouse the buyer never knows who you are and a credit card never gets sent to the AU.
There is no need for you to spend effort looking for people willing to buy one of your tradelines either. There are a multitude of companies out there doing all the heavy lifting for you. They find the buyers, background check them (to prevent fraud), collect the money and send you the information. You add the AU to the card they purchased a tradeline from and sit back enjoying a cold one. Several months later you remove them as an AU and a check is mailed to you (direct deposit actually).
People buy tradelines to increase their credit score to get better loan rates and to reduce their insurance costs. This isn’t repair credit! If you went through a bad patch, buying tradelines can give your credit score a lift as long as you are not adding more negative marks to your credit report. A medical disaster is no longer a lifelong financial death sentence.
Car and homeowner’s insurance can be higher when your credit score is poor. It’s like kicking someone in the face when they are down. A medical emergency can destroy a life without hope of financial recovery. Buying tradelines can lower the interest on a mortgage or car loan, but also lower insurance premiums. Some people enjoy major benefits investing in tradelines.
Time for a Walk
The best way to understand selling tradelines is to walk through the process. By the end of the walkthrough you will know how your credit cards can add $1,000 or more per month to your pocket for an hour or so of your time.
Step 1: You need a clean credit history. No delinquencies in the last year or so. Your credit score doesn’t matter. If you’re like me you collected more than a few credit cards over the years and only use certain ones.
Open an account for free at Credit Karma. Credit Karma should list all your open and closed accounts. Each credit card should list the account open date and credit limit.
Step 2: Research companies brokering tradelines. You will need to vet each company for quality; most will not make the cut. More time will focus on finding the right tradeline company for you than the actual process of earning money with tradelines. The most important questions involve account verification. The banks generally don’t like tradelines being sold. Their biggest concern is fraudsters increasing their FICO score, getting a credit card or other loan and defaulting. Without adequate fraud control criminals can cause losses for the banks and that ends the party. Ask before selling your tradelines with any company. Better yet, ask for proof they are collecting all required documents and running a LexisNexis background on each client.
Step 3: Once you sign up with a tradeline company, you choose which credit cards you wish to sell tradelines on. Your tradeline company will tell you what their firm pays for each tradeline per card. You should try to get your credit limit raised on all your cards to increase the potential income from each tradeline sold.
Step 4: Your tradelines are listed by the tradeline company. In short order you will get an email explaining you sold a tradeline! It’s not money time yet. Follow the instructions for adding the AU to the card listed.
The credit card company will send YOU a card for the new AU. You don’t have to activate the card.
Step 5: The tradeline company will send you another email in two to three months informing you to remove the authorized user. Follow the instructions on how to remove an AU from your credit card.
Step 6: Keep an Excel spreadsheet listing all AUs, when you added them, which card added to, when the AU is removed and when you get paid. Recordkeeping is important! You need to know what you have and where.
Step 7: Collect a check.
Step 8: Repeat.
It is possible to have more than one AU per card. In fact, it is likely. This is good for you. The more AUs, the more income. There is a limit, of course. Each credit card has a limit on the number of AUs you can have at a time on their card. My opinion is no more than two AUs per card ever. If you already have numerous AUs on a card for your business you probably should keep that card separate and not use it for selling tradelines.
Is this legal? Another question people have is the legality of doing this. My research indicates it is legal, including remarks from a spokesman from the FTC. The illegal issues lay with tradeline companies not doing adequate background checks. This is why it is important to vet any tradeline company before signing up with them. My understanding is this cannot be listed as credit repair and money can’t be collected up front from the client. You get paid after the fact so reading FTC reports indicate there are no legal issues with selling tradelines. If you vet a tradeline company and later the company takes a shortcut there is liability risk to the tradeline company. Having your due diligence in order protects you.
A Few Rules
Tradeline companies will have some rules to follow. I want you to follow those rules and add my more restrictive rules to their list if necessary. The more restrictive rule applies to protect you from account closure.
When your tradeline company tells you to remove an AU from a card, DON’T DO IT, unless at least two months have passed, preferably three. If you slap additional AUs on and off a card too fast the bank will cancel your card. Selling tradelines may not be illegal, but like counting cards in a casino, the bank will not like it if they know what you are doing, cancel your card and tell you to not come back.
All AUs stay on my cards for 90 days minimum!
You will be told to spend a token amount on the card. BS!!! Every card with an AU should have meaningful charges. You do the spending. The AU is not around to spend on your card. But meaningful spending on a card with AUs is a must. Don’t game the system with the card issuer getting a few pennies.
I’m lucky. With a business I can find plenty of things to put on the credit card. A typical paper order (in our paperless office) runs 250 reams. You may wish to consider previously published alternatives to spending, too.
If you are frugal (like me) without a business (unlike me) with few expenses to charge, there is a low limit to selling tradelines. Still, a couple hundred a month for less than an hour of time is a nice addition to the mad money account. One account handled properly can be worth $300 or so every couple months.
One Last Caution: There are plenty of companies brokering tradelines. I spent serious time reviewing multiple companies to verify I am with a “seasoned” firm and still discovered it wasn’t as seasoned as I would have prefered. There are other good tradeline companies out there. The real work is in finding them.
Vet several tradeline companies before committing. I use a tradeline company and am aware of two more who run a tight ship. The additional two companies I know of are doing it right so they don’t have much supply. Still, slow and steady wins the race. The company I am using was originally listed in this post and I edited them out until I can verify further. I want happy readers. The last thing I want is a mob of angry people who had their credit card cancelled. A background check on all clients is an absolute MUST!
This is a process. Consider adding to your credit card portfolio to increase future income. Go to the TWA Recommends page and scroll down to the recommended credit cards. Pick a card that matches your needs. Travel miles or cash rewards, et cetera. A good plan might be to add one card every three to six months or so for you and a significant other. Max out the bonus rewards and keep the card until it is ready for use selling tradelines. Don’t cancel the card. Keep it for future personal use too. Of course you will have a favorite card, but I use different cards for different situations as I suspect you will.
There is more to this, but I wanted to keep this under 2,000 words. Do your research; don’t just take my word for it. Crazy accountants from the backwoods of nowhere lead a guarded life. Before you commit to anything, do your due diligence. If you are uncomfortable with this idea; take a pass. My job is to share knowledge. There is no harm in taking a pass.
Note: My original post before the edit you just read contained more specific information and a referral to a tradeline company. I removed those references until I can verify more information this post brought up. Publishing a blog is an awesome form of crowdsourcing knowledge. In no way am I indicating the firm I mentioned did anything wrong or was taking shortcuts! What I am saying is when I do something myself I am willing to suffer the consequences. When I publish it is imperative I check and double check to protect you, kind readers.
I learned of this industry from another individual who had concerns before I edited. You can read his comments here. (And should!) I am working with same individual to verify my recommendation is valid. If it is I will add the contact information. I will only add the contact info once I am sure everything is in order. Check back for updates.
[October 31, 2017 Note: Read the above notes and warnings. I do NOT recommend any tradeline company. I do use a tradeline company to experiment and understand the industry. They have made significant improvements, but I have no way of verifying their quality. I am sharing their contact info below with the understanding I do not endorse any tradeline company, including theirs. It is also further noted this blog receives compensation if you sign up with the listed company. A further disclosure: the company listed emailed me yesterday to consult with them on their tax situation and prepare their tax returns, business and personal. I have not responded, but will probably provide tax services to them in the future.
2534 State Street, Suite #433
San Diego, CA 92101
Mention this blog to receive a bonus on your first tradeline sale.]