As an authorized user, can I open my own account for the same card?
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Editor's note: This post has been updated with current information. It was first published on Feb. 14, 2018.
After being an authorized user on someone's credit card account, you may be considering an account of your own. Maybe you want to apply for the card yourself so you can get your own sign-up bonus, or perhaps you just want to earn your own miles and/or improve your credit score. TPG reader Jake asked us a question along those lines about his sister's authorized user account.
[pullquote source="TPG Reader Jake"]My sister is an authorized user on my brother-in-law’s Alaska Visa Signature Card. Do they need to cancel her authorized user card first before she applies? Or can she simply apply for a card on her own and keep the authorized card as well?[/pullquote]
Well, Jake, to answer your question simply, there's no need to close the authorized user card if your sister wants her own account for the same credit card.
There aren't any rules that will disqualify her from signing up for her own Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card. And it wouldn't hurt to keep the account open — in fact, it could ding her credit score if she closes it, and it doesn't cost anything to keep an authorized user account open for the Alaska card. Additionally, there aren't any other issuers that would disqualify her from being an authorized user on one account and then applying for the same card on her own.
There are definitely some benefits to your sister getting her own account. First, she'll be able to obtain a sign-up bonus of her own. By applying for the Alaska card right now, she'll receive 40,000 bonus miles, a $100 statement credit, and Alaska's Famous Companion Fare from $121 ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $22) when you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. Those 40,000 miles are worth $720, according to TPG's valuations.
She'll also be able to get her own annual companion fare from $121 ($99 fare, plus taxes and fees from $22), which offers a steep discount if you want to bring a friend or family member on an Alaska (or Virgin America) flight with you. So if her husband already used his for the year, they'd now have another! Just keep in mind she'll need to pay an annual fee of $75 for her own account.
Another benefit she'll receive as the primary account holder of a co-branded airline card is the ability to earn miles straight into her own frequent flyer account. Plus, having a primary card account attached to her credit report will help boost her credit score — as long as she pays the bill off on time — which can help her establish credit history if she's never had a card of her own.
The last thing your sister-in-law should consider before applying for the Alaska card is Chase's 5/24 rule, which precludes applicants for Chase cards from being approved if they've opened five or more cards in the last 24 months. So it would be wise for her to apply for any Chase cards she's been eying before applying for other issuers' cards.
To sum it up, Jake, yes your sister can, and probably should, get her own credit card account in this case, and it doesn't require her closing the authorized user account. Just be aware that she'll now have to pay an annual fee of her own, and keep in mind it could be worth considering getting a different card altogether — a card with benefits that complement, not duplicate, her husband's wallet.
Updated on 5/4/22.