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TPG reader Dan tweeted to ask about sharing a credit card:

@ThePointsGuy — “Is it more efficient for me and my girlfriend to have our own Sapphire cards or to share one?”

Most credit card issuers allow you to add authorized users to your accounts, including family members, friends, employees or really anyone you want to have access to your line of credit. There are plenty of benefits to adding an authorized user — like earning additional bonuses and accruing rewards more quickly in a single account — but it’s not necessarily the best long-term strategy.

Dan and his girlfriend are trying to decide whether to share one account on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which lets you add authorized users at no cost, and even gives you a bonus of 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you add a user and make a purchase in the first three months. In this case, I’d say you might as well take advantage of the authorized user bonus, but there are a few reasons you should also consider getting separate accounts.

The main incentive is the sign-up bonus, which in this case is 40,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 2.1 cents apiece, so I think that sign-up bonus is worth about $840 in award travel. Obviously, two sign-up bonuses will take you a lot further than just one. There are also personal financial considerations: Unless your finances are already fully intertwined, sharing a credit card account will require some extra organization and tracking on both your parts.

Planning a points strategy with your travel partner can be beneficial for both of you. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
Sharing an account will be much easier if you also share travel plans.

Perhaps more importantly, while a joint account can make it easy to earn rewards together, you should be clear about how you intend to redeem those points together. If you’ve already set a goal with a particular trip in mind and the points you earn from your shared card are part of that plan, then having one account should work out fine. However, if you’re not sure how you plan to use them, sharing an account can be a little risky.

What if you want to use some of those points for a weekend trip, but your partner (and authorized user) either can’t or doesn’t want to go? You can probably find a fair solution, but it might be easier to just keep your points separate. Travel rewards can bring people together, but like anything of value, they can also be a source of friction! I leave it to you to decide which scenario is more likely in your relationship.

On the flip side, two cards means double the cost in annual fees, so if you’re working on a tight budget, there’s another reason to use a joint account. Some cards will also charge you just to add an authorized user. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express charges $175 (total) to add up to three additional cardholders. However, each of them receives benefits like lounge access and a Global Entry fee credit, so it’s actually a great deal.

Overall, I think the value of a second sign-up bonus outweighs the benefits of sharing an account, but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You’ll have to weigh all these factors and decide what makes the most sense for you.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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