Tradelines for Sale: Is it a Best Practice or Fake Shortcut? 

Tradelines for Sale: Is it a Best Practice or Fake Shortcut? 

Tradelines for Sale: Is it a Best Practice or Fake Shortcut? 

Advertiser & Editorial Disclosure

Buying tradelines (or renting tradelines) is often promoted as a way to quickly boost credit scores. But is it legit?

Whether you’re a business owner searching for a small business loan, or if you’re  hoping to get a mortgage or car loan, you likely know that good credit is key to getting approved for financing, and for getting the best interest rates. 

If you’re having trouble qualifying for financing and searching for credit repair solutions, you may have come across ads for tradelines for sale. Here we’ll help you understand whether buying tradelines is a good option for you or your business. 

How Do Tradelines Work: A Quick Primer

Business tradelines” is simply an industry term for “accounts.” It refers to accounts that appear on credit reports. 

Payment history is the most important factor for both good personal credit scores and business credit scores. To establish payment history, you need to:

  1. Get tradelines that will be reported to credit reporting agencies, and
  2. Pay on time

Business tradelines can help you build business credit, while personal tradelines can help build personal credit.

Buying Tradelines

Buying tradelines is an arrangement where someone pays to be added to someone else’s account (usually a credit card account) as an authorized user. 

In a typical authorized user scenario, a cardholder adds someone to their credit card as an authorized user so that person can use the card. For example, a parent might add their teenager to their credit card so they can use the account while building credit. The primary account holder is legally responsible for charges made by an authorized user. 

When someone is added as an authorized user on a credit card, the account then typically appears on the authorized user’s credit reports. If the account is paid on time and balances are low that often helps boost their credit. This is sometimes referred to as “piggybacking,” because it allows that person to piggyback on someone else’s good credit. 

While most people are added as authorized users to friends or family member’s accounts, not everyone knows someone who is willing and able to help in this way.

That’s where buying tradelines comes in. (This arrangement is also sometimes called “tradeline rental,” but buying or renting tradelines generally refers to the same process.) 

Instead of someone you know adding you to their account as an authorized user, you pay a tradeline rental company to find someone who will add you to their account, for a fee. Tradeline rental firms match people who have credit cards in good standing and want to make money by “renting” them out, and people who are willing to pay to be added to someone else’s account. These firms collect payments and monitor the process. 

Pros of Buying Tradelines

Here are the main benefits of buying tradelines:

1. Immediate Impact 

Buying tradelines can lead to a quick boost in your credit scores.

Once you’ve been added to someone’s credit card, the entire payment history of that account will likely appear on your credit reports. If the account you’ve been added to has a long, positive payment history, you may see a quick and substantial boost to your credit scores. 

It is not guaranteed though. Some credit scoring models give less weight to these types of accounts. And more generally, how much adding an account will help your credit depends on a lot of different factors including what information is already included in your credit reports, as well as the details of the new credit tradeline. 

2. Builds Credit History

It can help build a positive credit history, especially for those who have a thin credit file.

If you don’t have enough accounts appearing on your credit reports to calculate a credit score, your credit profile will fall into the category known as “thin file.” The types of tradelines that can help you build credit may include credit card accounts, auto loans, student loans, a mortgage etc. 

Adding a new tradeline to your credit reports — especially a credit card one with an established payment history and low balances — may provide a strong credit reference to help move your credit score out of the thin file category. 

3. Access to Higher Credit Limits

Having a tradeline with a high credit limit and a low balance can improve your credit utilization ratio, a key factor in credit scoring.

In addition to payment history, low debt utilization is another factor that can contribute to good credit scores. This factor compares the balance reported on a credit report for a credit card or line of credit to the credit limit for that account. 

The formula for utilization is:

Balance / credit limit x 100

Generally, consumers with the best FICO score have utilization of less than 10% to 20%. Whether it’s your own credit card, or one on which you are an authorized user, low utilization can be helpful to building and keeping good credit. 

Cons of Buying Tradelines

So far, there appear to be a lot of benefits to buying tradelines. What about drawbacks? Here are a few. 

1. Cost

Purchasing tradelines can be expensive, with prices varying widely based on the age and credit limit of the tradeline.

The cost of tradelines can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Pricing may vary depending on how long the account has been opened and the size of the credit limit, as well as how many you purchase. 

While buying tradelines is not explicitly illegal, it is a gray area and is generally frowned upon by lenders and credit bureaus.

Credit reporting agencies and companies that create credit scores aren’t a fan of tradeline rentals because these types of credit references don’t really reflect the experience of the consumer with the account. (The person renting the tradeline won’t be using the account or making payments.) 

However, they generally can’t stop it either. It does not appear to be illegal to buy tradelines per se, though at least one of the major credit bureaus suggests that using this method to improve your credit may illegally misrepresent your creditworthiness and even lead to bank fraud when you apply for credit. 

3. Temporary Impact

The benefits from purchased tradelines may be short-lived.

Often these arrangements last for a few months. After that time period, the authorized user will be removed from the account. The account itself is likely to remain on your credit reports and that may continue to benefit your credit history. But it is possible for these tradelines to disappear from your credit for various reasons. However, if you have applied for other credit in the meantime, you will be working on building your credit history in more direct ways. 

4. Risk of Scams 

There’s a risk of encountering fraudulent companies when buying tradelines.

You need to provide personal, sensitive information such as your Social Security number when you purchase tradelines. There is always the risk that your information could be used for fraudulent purposes, including identity theft. 

Building Tradelines

Building your own tradelines involves demonstrating positive credit behavior over time. Here’s what you need to know:

Pros of Building Tradelines Yourself

1. Control

You have complete control over your credit behavior and, consequently, your credit score.

When you get credit on your own, you can remain completely in control of how you use the account. You don’t have to worry about how the stranger who owns the account manages it, and you don’t have to worry about whether your approach is legal. It puts you in greater control of your own credit future. 

One way to build tradelines yourself  is with a secured credit card. Some credit card companies offer personal secured cards and a few offer secured business credit cards. You’ll need to put up a security deposit to get the card, but unlike tradeline rentals, you’ll get that money back if you manage the account properly.  

Another way to build tradelines is with a credit builder account. Here you make payments toward a savings account, and eventually you get the money you’ve saved (minus any fees or interest paid). 

Net-30 vendor accounts can be an excellent way to establish business credit. These types of accounts may carry an annual fee, but it’s usually less than the cost of buying  a tradeline. 

Find net-30 business tradelines that report to business credit reports here. 

2. Long-Term Impact

Good credit habits have a long-term positive impact on your credit score.

The best way to build credit is to get credit with accounts that report to credit reporting agencies, pay on time, and keep balances low. That’s not always feasible; financial emergencies can come up that make it difficult to manage your accounts well. But if you can follow both those principals you’ll likely see significant progress toward better credit. 

3. No Additional Cost

You may pay interest and/or an annual fee, but there’s no additional cost to building your own tradelines.

You’ll usually save money by building credit yourself, versus paying a broker to buy tradelines. Again, some accounts may have annual fees, and you may pay interest on a credit card if you can’t pay the balance in full each month, but that cost is usually less than the cost of renting trade lines. 

Cons of Building Tradelines Yourself

1. Time Consuming

Building good credit takes time.

The age of the information on your credit report is one factor that affects your credit scores. Older accounts you’ve held for a long time are more helpful than brand new ones. (Older accounts are sometimes referred to as “seasoned tradelines.”) 

2. Limited by Your Credit 

If you have bad credit, or a thin file, it might be difficult to get approved for new credit products to build your tradelines.

And that may lead you to believe authorized user tradelines are your only option. But it may not be.

First, consider whether your family members or a close friend may be willing to help you by adding you as an authorized user to their account.  If so, make sure it’s an account that has always been paid on time and doesn’t have a high utilization rate. That can be an awkward conversation, but you want to boost your credit scores, not hurt them. 

Don’t be offended if they say no; after all, the primary cardholder is ultimately responsible for any charges authorized users make. 

Other options we’ve mentioned earlier, such as credit builder loans or secured cards generally don’t require strong personal credit scores. They can be a place to start. 

If you want to establish business credit, you may be surprised quickly you may be able to build credit using business tradelines

Business credit cards (including secured cards) and vendor accounts can be very helpful for establishing business credit.

How Nav Prime Can Help

Nav Prime is another excellent option for getting a business tradeline. With Nav Prime,  your monthly payments are reported as a tradeline to all three major business credit bureaus to help establish business credit and improve your business credit scores.

Nav customers with positive business credit score changes averaged a 42 point increase* across business credit bureaus within the first three months of using Nav tradeline reporting.

While buying tradelines may provide a quick boost to your credit scores, it also comes with risks and potential downsides. There’s no guarantee that paying for tradelines will improve your credit scores, and it will likely be more expensive than doing it yourself. 

Building your own tradelines is a safer, albeit slower, way to improve your credit. If you can afford to take time, it may be your best bet in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions: Tradelines for Sale

Can you legally buy tradelines?

Again, it’s not illegal to buy tradelines, but compared to other methods of building credit, it is more risky. Unlike building your own credit references through a secured card, for example, there’s no guarantee that the person who holds the card won’t pay late or carry high balances (high utilization), both of which can affect your credit rating. 

Is buying tradelines legit?

While buying or renting credit tradelines isn’t technically illegal, it is frowned upon by the credit industry. If something goes wrong (late payments on the original accounts,, for example) or you take out new loans based on that information and then default, you could create additional problems down the road. 

How do I get legit tradelines?

If you are having trouble qualifying for credit due to bad credit or no credit, you have other options besides paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for tradeline packages. 

A secured credit card can be a good option for building or rebuilding personal credit or business credit. A number of major issuers including Capital One and Discover offer secured cards. The is a popular option for building personal credit.

Is selling tradelines risky?

It can be. Tradeline companies will require your Social Security number and identification. And you’ll likely need to give permission for the company to access your credit reports or account information to verify activity and reporting. While the company may try to protect that sensitive information, there’s always a risk in sharing it.

*Based on aggregate data tracking positive business credit score changes in the first three months of having Nav tradeline reporting. This increase is an average score increase. Individual business credit scores use different scoring models. Results will vary. Scores are calculated from many variables; some users may not see improved scores.

This article was originally written on June 21, 2023 and updated on January 17, 2024.

Rate This Article

This article currently has 11 ratings with an average of 5 stars.

Have at it! We'd love to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and protect yourself. Refrain from posting overtly promotional content, and avoid disclosing personal information such as bank account or phone numbers.

Reviews Disclosure: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the credit card, financing and service companies that appear on this site. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card, financing and service companies and it is not their responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *