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Signup bonuses are a crucial part of the points and miles puzzle, but they’re not the only way of banking a substantial balance of rewards points. Other methods include signing up to regular promotions offered by credit card providers and loyalty programs, taking advantage of generous referral bonuses which can bring in upwards of 50K points per year, and on select credit cards, scoring bonus points for adding an authorized user to your account.
Credit cards offering bonus points for authorized users typically require the cardholder to complete a purchase to qualify for the bonus points. But compare that to credit cards charging an annual fee for authorized user accounts, and the additional spend required to justify that yearly expense, and you begin to see why those easy points add so much value to these cards.
Cards Offering Bonus Points to Add an Authorized User
There are no longer many cards offering authorized user bonuses, with most card issuers either not offering a bonus at all, or only adding AU bonuses during promo events.
|Credit Card||AU Bonus Points & Conditions|
|Virgin Atlantic® World Elite MasterCard®||Up to 5,000 bonus miles when you add additional cardholders to your account (2,500 miles each for 2 AU's)|
Amex doesn’t offer an authorized user bonus as standard practice, but they do provide the occasional promo gifting bonus points when you add one or more authorized users. Another thing to consider before adding an authorized user is whether they receive the same benefits as the primary cardholder. If you pay the additional $175 fee for up to three authorized users ($175 total, not per AU) on The Platinum Card® from American Express, the AU cardholders receive lounge access and other benefits, and every dollar they spend earns you more points!
Benefits of Adding an Authorized User
The benefits of adding an authorized user aren’t just restricted to bonus points.
- Card perks pass on to authorized users – It’s rare for all a card’s benefits to pass onto authorized user accounts, but AU’s on cards like the Ritz-Carlton Card and Amex Platinum gain lounge access perks, and Amex Platinum AU’s get the same elite status privileges as the primary cardholder. While you’ll pay a $175 fee for up to 3 AU’s on your Amex Platinum account, the Ritz-Carlton Card charges nothing on AU accounts.
- Earn more points – If you have more than one card spending from the same account, purchases made by the additional cardholder earns points for your account. If you have more than one family member added as an AU, you can ensure all household spending is earning points for your account. The downside to this? You’re responsible for paying back everything the household spends…
- Allows you to transfer points to AU’s – The major banks have tightened guidelines on transferring points to other accounts, but by adding an authorized user, you can sometimes sidestep the tighter restrictions. For example, it’s possible to move Amex Membership Rewards to someone else's frequent flyer account, but only if that person is an authorized user on your Membership Rewards earning card.
- Helps meet minimum spend and status bonuses – Adding an authorized user can help you meet the minimum spend on new cards sooner with more than one person charging to the account. It can also help you achieve some of the harder to reach elite status bonuses like the Platinum Elite Status bonus on the Ritz-Carlton Card, which requires $75K in purchases charged to the card to attain Platinum and keep it for the next year. Remember, Ritz-Carlton Platinum = Marriott Platinum
- Boost AU cardholders' credit score – If someone close to you is just starting out on their credit journey, you can add them as an authorized user, and they’ll get a kickback from your higher credit score and the length of your credit history.
- Purchase & travel protections extend to AU accounts – The majority of rewards cards extend the extensive purchase and travel protections offered with the card to authorized users, provide a cost-effective way of covering family members and those close to you.
It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. You are responsible for any charges incurred by authorized users, and their actions can potentially impact your credit score. Only sign up an authorized user if you have complete faith and trust in the person.
Myth about Adding an Authorized User
- Authorized users cannot get the same card themselves as a primary cardmember and receive any associated bonus. This is 100% false. Being an authorized user on someone else's card account does not preclude you from receiving a bonus on your own account for which you separately applied. So, if you're added as an authorized user on the United℠ Explorer Card account of someone else, that does not preclude you from applying for a card account on your own and receiving the current signup bonus.
There are some other myths out there, but this is by far the biggest misconception.
Adding an authorized user account is a fast and easy way of collecting some extra points or miles outside of earning the signup bonus. In addition to the extra points, AU’s offer a way of sidestepping the more onerous transfer restrictions, and allow you to rack up points that much faster on route to your next dream holiday.
If we’ve missed any cards off the list, or a benefit of adding an authorized user account, please reach out in the comments.
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