Benefits for Authorized Users on Rewards Credit Cards [2019]

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It’s become common practice for credit card providers to offer incentives and benefits for adding an authorized user (AU) to your card account. Some of the perks offered are for the primary cardholder, while others are benefits the authorized user receives for holding the card.

Cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express provide carryover benefits to authorized users such as lounge access and complimentary elite status, at a fraction of the annual fee of holding a standalone card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms Apply)
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Annual Fee$550
Welcome Bonus Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, and on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com

The list of carryover benefits differs for each card, as does the cost of adding authorized user accounts. We're not covering cards in this post that provide bonus points to the primary cardholder for adding an authorized user, as we've covered those cards in detail in another post, this post is aimed at the authorized user cards, and the perks they receive.

Benefits of Adding an Authorized User to Your Credit Card

The benefits of adding an authorized user to your card include:

  • Track spending & expenses – Adding an authorized user is a great way to keep track of your monthly expenditures. Whether it’s an AU card for the kids or additional cards for employees, you’ll have an easy time tracking purchases made with your account.
  • Earn additional points & miles – Additional cards typically mean more spending power which in turn means earning more points. Spending on AU cards will earn points that deposit directly into your rewards account.
  • Help meet minimum spend & threshold bonuses – Reaching the $500 minimum spend on the Freedom Card isn’t going to present too much of a hurdle for most folks. But there are plenty of minimum spend and spending threshold bonuses that require tens of thousands of dollars to reach, which is a harder obstacle to overcome. Having two or more cards racking up purchases makes hitting those high spending thresholds a little easier, helping you reach the big payoffs like Marriott Platinum Elite Status when you spend $75K on your Ritz-Carlton Card in a calendar year.
  • Help AU build a credit file – Adding an AU to your account can help that person establish a positive credit file before applying for making the jump into the credit market themselves. If the card has been open a long time, an authorized user can add years to their credit score with minimal effort.
  • Gift cheap/free benefits to AU cardholders – Lots of rewards cards offer top benefits for AU accounts without the high annual expense of being a primary cardholder. For instance, want a free Priority Pass membership? Get added an AU to a family member’s Ritz-Carlton Card, and you’ll receive your own Priority Pass membership, and with no annual fee for adding the AU card!
  • Receive the benefits before getting the bonus – As an authorized user, you can receive many of the benefits of holding the card, while keeping open the opportunity to get the signup bonus on the same card at a later date. If you’re holding out for now, but you still want that sweet lounge access when you fly, put off applying for the card and have a family member add you as an authorized user.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Annual Fee$450
Welcome Bonus Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Chase's flagship Ultimate Rewards card. You get a $300 travel credit, airport lounge access courtesy of a Priority Pass membership and industry-leading travel insurance benefits. New cardholders earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit
  • 3X points on dining at restaurants
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Carryover Benefits for Credit Card Authorized User Accounts

The table below covers the carryover benefits on the most popular premium rewards credit cards. Outside of the typical Visa Infinite/Signature, Mastercard, and Amex benefits, which are provided to both primary and authorized user accounts, these are tangible benefits that AU accounts receive each year.

CardAU Card BenefitsAU Bonus PointsAU Annual Fee
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressReceive the full suite of Platinum Card benefits except for the Airline & Uber Credits. This includes all lounge access perks, elite status benefits across multiple programs, and Boingo Wi-Fi access, plus each card receives a Global Entry/TSA fee credit up to $100.N/AAdd up to 3 AU cards for a total of $175, each card after that is an additional $175 (Terms Apply - Rates & Fees)
The Business Platinum® Card from American ExpressReceive the same benefits as consumer Platinum AU's plus 10 Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes.N/A$300 (Terms Apply - Rates & Fees)
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Full Priority Pass membership with same guesting privileges plus all the travel insurance and Visa Infinite perks offered to primary cardholders. Don't receive the $300 travel credit or Global Entry fee credit.N/A$75
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit CardFull Priority Pass membership with same guesting privileges and can use the $100 Visa Infinite Airline Discount and insurance benefits. Don't receive the $300 airline credit or Global Entry fee credit.10K points if added and a purchase made in the first three monthsNo Fee
Citi Prestige® CardFull Priority Pass membership with same guesting privileges, don't receive the $250 travel credit or the 4th-night free perk.N/A$75
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®Full Admirals Club membership with same guesting privileges. As of November 1, 2019 a same day boarding pass on American or partner airlines is required for entry.N/AAdd up to 10 AU cards with no additional fee.

Outside of the premium cards listed above, carryover benefits on mid-tier and no annual fee rewards cards are restricted to those listed in the card's Guide to Benefits. On cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, this includes a powerful set of travel and purchase protection perks like Primary Rental CDW, Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance, and excellent Trip Delay coverage.

Potential Downsides to Adding an Authorized User

  • Your credit score is on the line – First and foremost you need to protect your credit score, and adding an AU account can put that at risk if the account is used carelessly or bills are not paid.
  • Additional fees – Additional annual fees put a dent in the profit made from earning points and miles. As an example, if the annual fee for adding an authorized user is $69, and the points are worth 1.5¢ a piece, you’d need to spend an additional $4,600 at 1 point per dollar before you’re in the green, not taking into account perks such as lounge access, etc. It’s crucial to do the math before you add an AU to ensure it’s worth the added cost.
  • Can impact card applications – One of the issues many points and miles fans run into with Chase’s 5/24 policy, is finding AU accounts counted against their personal 5/24 count. While it’s a fairly easy situation to rectify by speaking to a human directly, it’s something to be aware of before becoming an AU on someone else account.

Something else to be aware of is that benefits are not always laid out clearly by the credit provider. The benefits available to AU cardholders may not be fully explained in the benefits guide or card T&C’s, and it’s best to contact your card provider and clarify the cost and exactly what’s included before you add an AU to your card.

Final Thoughts

For carryover perks, it’s hard to go past the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum Card, even with the higher than average annual fees. With the exception of the travel and Uber credits, AU’s gain access to the full suite of Platinum perks including Centurion Lounge and Delta Sky Club access, a full Priority Pass membership, a Global Entry/TSA fee credit for each card, elite status benefits across multiple programs including Hilton and Marriott. What’s your favorite perk for AU cardholders? Let us know in the comments below.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
Annual Fee$450
Welcome Offer Earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $6,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
The AA Executive Card card is by far the most cost effective way to gain access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges. Even better, you can extend the benefit to up to 10 authorized users on your account at no additional cost. In addition, this card offers a free checked bag, on domestic AA flights, priority checkin and boarding, and a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Complimentary Admirals Club membership for the primary cardholder
  • Complimentary Admirals Club membership for up to 10 authorized user accounts
  • No charge for authorized user accounts
  • Reduced Mileage Awards can save you 7,500 miles on roundtrip MileSAAver Awards
  • First checked bag free on domestic AA flights for you and up to 8 companions
  • Priority check-in, TSA screening lines, and boarding
  • 10,000 bonus Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Earn 2X miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • Earn 1X mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn 10,000 AAdvantage Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees)

Benefits for Authorized Users on Rewards Credit Cards [2019]
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Comments

  • It’s really great that an AU can help you meet minimum spend requirements, especially with the threshold for the full bonus getting higher and higher for some of the best cards.

  • I thought Amex got rid of free boingo

  • I do not think that enough people maximize the values of the added card members.

  • If I were in an AA hub and had an AU, I’d go for the Citi AAdvantage Executive card. Hard to beat free Admirals Club membership.

  • There are many benefits for authorized users but one of the best comes with the Citi AAdvantage Executive card that gives the AAdmirals Club membership. Authorized users cards are free and they can each go in to AAdmirals Clubs with two guests. I have 4 authorized users but I think you have as many as 9. Pretty great deal to be able to get club membership for that many people from just one annual fee!

  • I personally wouldn’t use points as a factor to offset the AF. Adding my wife as an AU to my CSR doesn’t make sense pointwise because we pay for trips/bookings online so we can use my card no matter what and 9 times out of 10 we dine together and can use my card.

    The question is is $75 worth it to us for her to have PP (and GE too yes?). For us that’s a no. I’d rather her get a different card with different non-overlapping benefits.

  • I think the lounge access benefit that comes with the authorized user cards is awesome, but at the same time this contributes to overcrowded lounges, IMHO.

  • Adding an authorized user increase the benefits but also the risks.

    • Well hopefully you’re adding an AU for someone you trust like a spouse or child – and even if a child you could just sock drawer the card and give it to them only when they need it or only to make certain online purchases.

  • Now this is news. This is not something I have read before, even on the pages for the cards. Very nice to know. I think it helps justify the Amex Plat AF. It’s high but if my husband and kids could have the same privileges as me, even when they travel separately from me, that’s great! The AF is still too much right now, since I don’t travel as much. As my husband and I will travel more later, it just might be worth it, especially if his company has him travel more for work. I wish that the levels were higher with Marriott and Hilton but don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, right?

  • are there no other cards that offer AU bonuses apart from the Ritz? I feel like I saw one just recently but dont remember which card. Maybe they are usually targeted bonuses rather than public? Not that I’d generally add someone close as an AU anyway since my SO is P2 and looking to maximize points and not waste inquiries

  • Is it really true that AU can get credit score benefits? I read somewhere that credit scoring agencies have cut back on this

    • It’s definitely true, although the exact FICO formula is a closely guarded trade secret. I’ve personally seen the most significant impact when adding an AU on an especially old card. Even though age of credit is only 15% vs. 30% for utilization, I’ve noticed that adding an old card is better for the AU than adding a high limit card.

      • Absolutely true but do note that if an individual has no history themselves, they could still be denied a card even with an 800+ score.

        • Yes 100%. This isn’t a magic bullet, but it can help push someone on the edge into the approval category. I always recommend folks just starting open a no-fee card like the Freedom or Freedom Unlimited that they can comfortably keep open long term to start anchoring their credit history. If one can’t get approved for those, student cards or even secured cards are a good starting point.

  • Thanks. This post has really opened my eyes to AU benefits. A whole new area to explore.

  • My wife and I share a Sapphire Reserve card, which has been annoying regarding giving it back and forth for going to restaurants. In the big picture though, $75 isn’t worth it since we don’t fly enough to maximize the priority pass benefits.

    • Yeah, if your only benefit is getting 3x points at restaurants, you’re better off having your wife get the Capital One Savor One card or something similar.

  • Can authorized users also open up their own Chase card accounts? Especially in regards to 5/24

    • Yes, being an authorized user doesn’t count as having the card in the past for the purpose of once-per-lifetime restrictions (Amex) or “can’t-have-had-the-card-for-x-months” (other banks). Reports are that Chase’s automated system counts AU accounts as new accounts for 5/24 purposes. However, if you call reconsideration, they can remove them manually and approve if you’re otherwise under 5/24 for non-AU accounts.

  • Thanks for mentioning that becoming an authorized user could count against you if you apply for a new card with Chase (5/24), counting as a new account opened,

    • Yep, as far as we know, you can work around the issue by calling Chase. It seems to be a computer problem—they don’t exclude AU cards automatically, but an agent can verify that you are not the primary cardholder and approve a new application if it was just the AU card holding you back from 5/24 glory.

  • Some of these cards definitely increased how busy airport lounges are..

  • I am particularly interested in Primary Rental CDW. Does AU enjoy the same benefits?

    • Yes, AUs are covered when they use the card to rent. Best to review T&C, but I can’t think of an exception.

      For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred states:

      “You, a person to whom a United States (U.S.) credit card has been
      issued (“Cardholder”) and your name is embossed on the card.
      You are then covered as the primary renter of the vehicle and any
      additional drivers permitted to operate it under the terms of the
      rental agreement (“Authorized Person”) are also covered.”

      CSP Benefits PDF

  • Is it possible to add someone to get the same travel perks, but then remove them after the trip?

    • It’s possible, but if there is an AU annual fee, you probably won’t get a refund. I wouldn’t recommend making it a habit. There are many benefits to keeping a strong long-term relationship with card issuers. In short, I wouldn’t recommend a lot of AU additions and cancellations.

  • I wouldn’t usually add anyone other than my spouse or child as an AU. Also would rather use my spouse for 2 player mode than AU. Maybe someday it will be more beneficial.

  • Adding me as an AU years ago is exactly how my father started me off building my credit history. Thanks, dad!

  • With the cards with an annual fee, is there an additional annual fee for adding an extra cardholder (to make use of the benefits) ?

    Thanks

  • Adding users really can bring benefits as we manage/control the risks.

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