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Sunday Reader Question: Advantage to Additional Cardholders Vs. Two Accounts

by on February 3, 2013 · 13 comments

in Avios, British Airways, Chase, Credit Cards, Sunday Reader Questions

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Update: The current offer for the British Airways Visa is 50,000 Avios when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months.

TPG reader Sue asks:

“We saw you at the New York Times Travel Show and have been following your blog. My question: Is there an advantage to opening a credit card account with a subcard vs. opening two accounts? We are looking at the British Airways card that you recommended. We are domestic partners and not married. “

Simply put, the advantage to opening two cards would be that you could potentially score two sign-up bonuses, which with the British Airways Visa is 50,000 Avios after $1,000 spent within 3 months and then an additional 25,000 Avios after $10,000 spent within a year and another 25,000 Avios after $20,000 spent. If you hit all $20,000 in spend within the year, you’d end up with at least 125,000 Avios.

While some Avios awards have high fees, there are a bunch of super valuable ways to maximize their value, which I highlighted in this post. Depending on how much money you can spend in a year, you might want to each get the card and then you can combine all of your Avios into a Household Account. Even if only one of you can reach the full $20,000 in spend, I still think getting 50,000 Avios after $1,000 in spend is a great deal. If you value short-haul flights, British Airways only charges 9,000 Avios roundtrip for flights under 600 miles. So with, say, 175,000 Avios collectively, you could get almost 20 roundtrip flights on American!

Getting two cards means potentially getting twice the bonus miles.

Getting two cards means potentially getting twice the bonus miles.

Flights from NYC to Miami non-stop are only 15,000 Avios in economy and the fees are low and you can even get to Europe on Air Berlin or Aer Lingus and avoid huge fees- only 50,000 miles roundtrip in economy and if you can leave from Boston, that price drops to only 25,000 Avios roundtrip per ticket to Dublin!

Key Considerations
Getting an additional cardholder is free and there is no credit hit. Even if your partner wants to get the bonus in the future, they’d be eligible – being an additional cardholder does not preclude you from getting the bonus if you ever get your own card/ primary account. However, if they decide to get their own card, you’re looking at a had inquiry, which is a 2-5 point temporary reduction in credit score and a $95 annual fee. I still think the 50,000-100,000 Avios payday is worth it, but it is something to consider.

By doubling down on the British Airways offer, you’re also putting a lot of “miles” in one basket. I always recommend diversifying your miles/points, just like assets. Instead of getting an additional British Airways card, you may want to consider another card, like the Sapphire Preferred. While the sign-up bonus is 40,000 points after $3,000 spent within 3 months, the points are much more flexible – you can still transfer them to British Airways, but you also have the option of transferring to United (the most valuable partner in my opinion), Southwest, Korean, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club and Amtrak. The Sapphire Preferred also has better earning opportunities- 2x on travel (which includes airfare, hotel, taxis, parking, mass transit and more) and dining and the $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

However, you also need to take into account that the current British Airways Avios offer is a limited time offer, which may be expiring soon and may or may not come back (they usually run it every year, but that doesn’t mean it will come back in the same or more lucrative format). You can also get a British Airways card and another Chase card. I actually have seven active Chase cards and am going for a couple more in my next round of applications, which is coming up soon. If you have good credit and pay your bills off on time (or early), you should have no issue getting in on the best deals – whether from Chase or other issuers.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • http://twitter.com/starboundflyer Starbound Flyer

    @TPG So I just noticed that as an additional AmEx cardholder, it reports to my personal credit profile. Is that a glitch or normal?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ryanebush Ryan Bush

    That’s normal… Chase and BOA do this also… the only one I know of that doesn’t report AUs is discover

    you can always call and ask them to remove the tradeline

  • http://twitter.com/starboundflyer Starbound Flyer

    I’m all for it, just wasn’t aware. Thanks for the reply!

  • Roburg

    When dealign with AMEX cards, always get an additonal cardholder. I have 4 kids, so for each account my wife or I own we get 6 cards. We each have 5 no annual fee AMEX cards. Thats 10 accounts x 6 card holders. So 60 cards? Oh, why you ask? Because of small business saturday. That 60 cards is worth $1500 in free stuff. WE typically go to a small business restaurant who is also having a buy $25 gift card get $10 for yourself gift card deal and get $2100 in free giftcards every year.

    Not a bad way to pay for a date night for us once a month…

  • Elaine

    That’s interesting. At the time of the last small business Saturday, we had just one AMEX/Costco acct with two authorized signers. The two cards have different numbers. But we only got one $25 credit back. Was that because we each spent the money at the same store? Would we have gotten two $25 credits had we spent our money at different places? I thought it was because the cards were from the same acct.

  • Elaine

    I have a related but separate question. We just started in the points/miles game and at my first, small app-a-rama my husband and I applied for four cards: a Sapphire Preferred with my H as the primary, a Hilton Honors Amex with H as primary again, and a US Airways for each of us. For both the Sapphire and Hilton cards, we requested a card for me.
    As I gear up to do it again at the end of February, is it wise/unwise to apply for multiple accounts for both of us in the same day? How does a credit check for a married person work? In other words, if my husband applies for an account, does that inquiry show up on my credit score since we are married? Does requesting a card for a spouse change it? Thanks for any advice you can offer.

  • PJ

    hmm why did they tell me ONLY 1 $25 for each account ?

  • Socalac1983

    That’s not true. Am AU on Discover and shows on my credit report. Don’t report stuff on here if you aren’t certain

  • Eggss4

    Good post. Anyone have any idea about how adding someone as a second cardholder could affect loan companies’ perception of a person’s ability to repay loans? I’d like to add my domestic partner as a 2nd cardholder for a few of my cards, but we are concerned that that would “link” our credit in some way wherein student loan companies could “make me pay” for her loans.

  • vortix

    $25 per ACCOUNT NUMBER. AmEx issues additional cardholders their own account number that is linked back to the main account.

  • Sam

    Did you make two different transactions–one on each card?

  • Elaine

    Yup!

  • Hollyaleclair

    re: Getting an additional cardholder is free and there is no credit hit. Even if your partner wants to get the bonus in the future, they’d be eligible – being an additional cardholder does not preclude you from getting the bonus if you ever get your own card/ primary account.

    I am an additional cardholder on my husband’s Barclay USAirways account. Do I need to cancel that additional card before I apply for my own CC?

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