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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 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.
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.
|Card||AU Card Benefits||AU Bonus Points||AU Annual Fee|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Receive 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/A||Add up to 3 AU cards for a total of $175, each card after that is an additional $175 - Rates & Fees|
|The Business Platinum® Card from American Express||Receive the same benefits as consumer Platinum AU's plus 10 Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes.||N/A||$300 -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 Card||Full 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 months||No Fee|
|Citi Prestige® Card||Full Priority Pass membership with same guesting privileges, don't receive the $250 travel credit or the 4th-night free perk.||N/A||$50|
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.
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/SPG, and free Boingo Wi-Fi access. What’s your favorite perk for AU cardholders? Let us know in the comments below.
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees)
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