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Credit cards with the greatest value for authorized users

Dec. 24, 2022
32 min read
2021
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.


There are many advantages to adding an authorized user to a credit card account. For one, it can help the primary cardholder hit certain spending requirements and earn rewards much faster. In turn, authorized users can benefit from the primary cardholder’s credit score and length of credit history in many instances, thus improving their own credit scores.

Certain credit cards also extend some benefits to additional cardholders, such as lounge access and statement credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck applications.

Here are some reasons you might want to consider adding other cardholders to your accounts, the best rewards cards for doing so and the perks given to these authorized users.

What is an authorized user?

An authorized user is someone who is allowed to use your credit card. The person is issued their own physical card, but it’s linked to your credit card account. Many cards allow authorized users to take advantage of some of the benefits offered to the primary cardholders.

Adding your teenager as an authorized user can be an excellent way to help them build their credit, even at a young age. FRANCESCO CARTA FOTOGRAFO/GETTY IMAGES

Considering that authorized user fees are typically less expensive than annual fees for primary (main) account holders, adding family members or spouses as authorized users on your account is a way to share some of the advantages of a card without shelling out another annual fee.

Related: Points of View: Should my partner get their own card or be added as an authorized user?

Adding your child as an authorized user also can help them start to build credit history. Note that each bank has its own policy on minimum age requirements.

Overview of the best cards for authorized users

We'll compare the following cards and highlight why these are the best credit cards for adding authorized users:

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CardAnnual feeAuthorized user feeRewards rate
Capital One Venture X$395.Free for up to four authorized users.10 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel.

5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel.

2 miles per dollar on all other eligible purchases.

Chase Sapphire Reserve$550.$75 per additional cardholder.10 points per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked through the Chase travel portal.

10 points per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 2025).

5 points per dollar on flights booked through the Chase travel portal.

3 points per dollar on travel (except purchases covered by the $300 annual travel credit) and on dining.

1 point per dollar on other purchases.

The Platinum Card from American Express$695 (see rates and fees).$175 for up to three authorized users (see rates and fees).5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar).

5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel.

1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express$695 (see rates and fees).$350 per additional cardholder (see rates and fees).5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel.

1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases over $5,000 and on eligible purchases in select business categories (up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year, then 1 point per dollar).

1 point per dollar on other purchases.

Terms apply

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card$550 (see rates and fees).$175 per additional cardholder (see rates and fees).

 

3 miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases.

1 mile per dollar on other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card$550 (see rates and fees).$175 per additional cardholder (see rates and fees).3 miles per dollar on eligible Delta purchases.

1.5 miles per dollar on all other purchases after you spend $150,000 on your card each calendar year.

1 mile per dollar on other purchases.

Terms apply

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard$450.Up to 10 additional cardholders for free.2 miles per dollar on eligible American Airlines purchases.

1 mile per dollar on other purchases.

1 Loyalty Point toward AAdvantage status for each dollar spent.

These rewards cards offer fantastic perks to authorized users. We’ll go through the primary cardholder benefits first and then discuss which ones apply to additional cardholders.

Capital One Venture X

The Capital One Venture X shook up the premium rewards credit card market with a much lower $395 annual fee — while still offering luxury benefits comparable to those of more expensive cards. What’s also groundbreaking about this card is the ability to add up to four authorized users for no cost and the perks that authorized users are entitled to.

THE POINTS GUY

Primary cardholder benefits

The primary account holder can enjoy the following perks:

For more details, check out our full review of the Venture X card.

Authorized user benefits

Authorized users gain access to Capital One lounges when showing their card and can bring up to two complimentary guests and gain their own Priority Pass Select membership for access to 1,300-plus lounges worldwide — including all accompanying guests. Furthermore, Hertz’s partnership with Capital One allows the authorized user to receive complimentary Hertz President’s Circle elite status.

Last but not least, your authorized user will receive important trip and purchase protections when paying with their card, including trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, lost luggage reimbursement, cellphone protection, primary rental car insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty and return protection.

Cardholder fees

The Venture X has an annual fee of $395. There is no fee to add up to four authorized users on the account.

Related: Why you should add authorized users on the Capital One Venture X

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Although primary cardholders can expect plenty of perks, authorized users can only rely on a few in their own right.

WYATT SMITH/THE POINTS GUY

Primary cardholder benefits

The primary account holder can receive the following:

For more details, check out our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Authorized user benefits

Authorized users receive their own Priority Pass Select membership, which offers access to airport lounges and restaurants at select airports. They are not eligible for the annual travel credit or their own reimbursement for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus. These benefits are shared with the primary account holder.

The only partner benefit that authorized users will currently enjoy is at least 12 months of DoorDash DashPass for free deliveries of $12 or greater. The last day to activate this benefit is Dec. 31, 2024.

Cardholder fees

The annual fee for the primary account is $550. Additional cards cost $75 each per year.

Related: How to maximize earning with the Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Platinum Card® from American Express

One of the top all-around premium rewards cards available offers comprehensive perks for the primary cardmember and some great authorized user benefits.

RYAN PATTERSON FOR THE POINTS GUY

Primary cardholder benefits

The primary cardmember can receive the following benefits:

* Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Remember that Delta SkyClub access does not allow any complimentary guests. Also, starting Feb. 1, 2023, you will need to meet the annual spending threshold of $75,000 to bring complimentary guests into the Centurion Lounge.

For more details, check out our full review of the Amex Platinum Card.

Authorized user benefits

First, the bad news. Authorized users on Platinum Card accounts do not get their own airline, Saks or Uber credits, although their spending will count toward the airline and Saks credits for the primary cardholder. They won’t receive their own Uber Cash, either. However, their cards still earn the bonuses on airline and hotel purchases for the primary cardholder and have access to booking through Fine Hotels + Resorts, along with all the extra benefits that conveys.

More importantly, authorized users are entitled to their own Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application reimbursement, can register for hotel and rental car elite status and get access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection with the same entry privileges as the primary cardmember.

Related: Amex to start charging $50 for most Centurion Lounge guests, $30 for children

Cardholder fees

You can receive up to three additional cards for $175 total, then the charge is $175 per card after that (see rates and fees). You also can add complimentary Amex Gold cards to your account, which are different from the American Express® Gold Card. The complimentary Gold card earns 5 points per dollar on flights booked through Amex Travel or directly with airlines (on up to $500,000 of these purchases per year, then 1 point per dollar) and on prepaid hotels on Amex Travel and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. Each additional card is eligible for one statement credit toward the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee (up to $100), which is available every four years for Global Entry or every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck. Incidental air travel fees charged by both additional Platinum and complimentary Gold cardmembers with the primary cardmember’s selected airline count toward the primary cardmember’s up-to-$200 annual statement credits. These cards also can receive Amex Offers.

However, these complimentary Gold cardholders are not eligible for Priority Pass Select membership or access to Centurion Lounges. Also, they do not qualify for other perks such as annual Uber Cash and elite status at certain hotels and rental car agencies. Authorized users with a Platinum card do have access to most of these benefits but not to the monthly Uber Cash benefit.

Cardmembers still may prefer the free version since the regular American Express Gold Card comes with a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Related: How to maximize your earning with the Amex Platinum

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Like the personal Platinum card, the Amex Business Platinum offers some outstanding perks to primary cardmembers and authorized users, including some the personal version does not include.

WYATT SMITH/THE POINTS GUY

Primary cardholder benefits

Primary cardmembers can receive the following benefits:

* Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Remember that Delta SkyClub access does not allow any complimentary guests. Also, starting Feb. 1, 2023, you will need to meet the annual spending threshold of $75,000 to bring complimentary guests into the Centurion Lounge.

For more details, check out our full review of the Amex Business Platinum Card.

Authorized user benefits

Like the personal version, only certain perks are available to additional cardholders. For instance, authorized users will not get their own airline fee or Dell credits. Like additional personal cardholders, though, they are eligible for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credits and receive access to Centurion, Priority Pass and Delta Sky Club lounges — among other benefits — as long as they receive a Platinum authorized user card.

Cardholder fees

Business Platinum cardmembers can tack on additional cards for $350 each (see rates and fees), so it’s not nearly as good a deal as with the personal card but is still worth considering. It is possible to add a Gold Card with an annual fee of $45 or Green Card with no annual fee (see rates and fees), but these will not offer lounge access.

Related: How to maximize your earning with the Amex Business Platinum

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card

The benefits offered by both the personal and business versions of this card are extremely similar, so let’s consider them together. Both of these cards carry annual fees of $550 (see rates and fees of the personal card and rates and fees of the business card).

WYATT SMITH/THE POINTS GUY

Primary cardholder benefits

The primary cardmember can take advantage of the following benefits:

  • New applicants for the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card can earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $6,000 in purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.
  • New applicants for the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card can earn 100,000 bonus miles after spending $6,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 3/29/23.
  • Both cards earn 3 miles per dollar spent on eligible Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other eligible purchases. The business version also earns 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all purchases after you make $150,000 or more in purchases in a calendar year.
  • Cardholders are eligible for an application fee waiver for TSA PreCheck (every 4.5 years) or Global Entry (every four years).
  • Cardmembers receive Delta Sky Club access when traveling on same-day Delta flights and can purchase additional guest passes for $50.
  • Cardmembers have access to American Express Centurion Lounges when flying Delta with a ticket purchased on the card (up to two guests may also enter for a fee of $50 each).
  • Other travel benefits include priority boarding, a free checked bag for the cardholder and up to eight companions on the same reservation and 20% savings on inflight food, beverage and headset purchases on Delta flights.
  • Cardholders can earn 15,000 additional MQMs toward Delta Medallion status after each $30,000 of purchases on the card — up to $120,000 of spending in a calendar year for a maximum of 60,000 MQMs.
  • Delta Reserve and Delta Reserve Business cardholders receive a companion certificate each cardmember year redeemable for one round-trip itinerary within the 48 contiguous United States (cardholders in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands can originate there) in main cabin, Delta Comfort+ or first class. Taxes and fees are capped at $80.
  • Ability to earn a Medallion Qualification Dollar (MQDs) waiver up to Platinum status by making $25,000 in purchases on eligible Delta credit cards each year; the spending requirement for an MQD waiver to Diamond Medallion status is $250,000 of credit card spending.

For more details, check out our full review of the Amex Delta Reserve and Amex Delta Reserve Business.

Authorized user benefits

Additional cardholders do not reap most of these benefits. However, their spending does count toward those MQM thresholds and they get access to Delta Sky Clubs and Amex Centurion Lounges when they travel on flights marketed and operated by Delta and present a same-day Delta boarding pass.

Cardholder fees

Additional cards cost $175 per year each for the Reserve (see rates and fees) and Reserve Business (see rates and fees).

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard

Citi’s top-tier American Airlines cobranded card has an annual fee of $450 per year. For that hefty fee, however, cardholders can expect multiple value-added benefits.

THE POINTS GUY

Primary cardholder benefits

Primary account holders can receive the following benefits:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
  • Full Admirals Club membership, including access to partner lounges. The cardholder can bring immediate family members or up to two guests for free with a same-day boarding pass on American Airlines or partner airlines.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases. Earn 1 mile per dollar spent on other purchases, plus earn 1 Loyalty Point per dollar spent. These help you earn American Airlines elite status.
  • First checked bag free and priority boarding for the cardholder and up to eight companions on the same reservation on domestic flights marketed and operated by American Airlines.
  • 25% off inflight purchases of food and beverages.
  • Receive a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement once every five years (up to $100).
  • 10,000 bonus Loyalty Points after spending $40,000 on purchases during the AA qualifying year (which runs from the beginning of March to the end of February each year).
  • No foreign transaction fees.

For more details, check out our full review of the Citi AAdvantage Executive card.

Authorized user benefits

Let’s cut to the chase: The best feature of this credit card is that additional cardholders can also access American Airlines’ Admirals Clubs and bring either immediate family members or up to two guests into the lounge with them for free. That alone is worth paying the main card’s annual fee, especially since an individual annual Admirals Club membership costs up to $650 a year.

Authorized users receive the inflight discount, and their spending counts toward earning the bonus Loyalty Points each year. However, they do not receive day-of-travel benefits such as free checked bags or priority boarding when traveling without the primary cardmember. They are not eligible for their own Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement, either.

Cardholder fees

Here’s where this card really proves its value: You can add up to 10 complimentary authorized users, each of whom has Admirals Club access and can bring in guests. Essentially, you can get 10 memberships for less than the price of one by opening this card instead of buying an Admirals Club membership from AA.

Does adding authorized users affect your credit score?

Adding an authorized user won’t affect your credit score directly. However, remember that you are responsible for that person’s spending. If the user overspends on the card, you’ll be accountable for the balance, associated fees and interest charges — and any impact on your credit score related to this spending. Because payment history and credit utilization both play significant roles in the calculation of your credit score, the behavior of your authorized users can end up negatively affecting your score.

Related: Adding your kids as authorized users

FLY VIEW PRODUCTIONS/GETTY IMAGES

Reasons to add authorized users

There are many compelling reasons to add authorized users to your credit card accounts. Here are the most significant decision points:

Offers of bonus points

Some credit cards offer bonus points for adding authorized users.

American Express has sent out targeted offers to cardmembers of various products, including the American Express Gold Card and Amex Platinum Card. In each case, you could earn 5,000 Membership Rewards points for every authorized user you added, assuming the user spent a required amount of money on purchases (typically ranging from $500 to $2,000) in the first three months on their card. Bonuses were capped at 20,000 points (equivalent to four additional users) on each card (though targeted offers are subject to change at any time).

Rack up rewards faster

One of the best things about having additional cards on your account is that all the rewards points or miles they earn through everyday spending are credited to the primary cardholder. Of course, the primary cardholder is also responsible for ensuring all those purchases are paid off. This shouldn’t be a problem if your authorized users are those you trust or if you can place tracking alerts or spending controls on your additional cards.

Hit spending thresholds

Similarly, any spending on an authorized user’s card will count toward the primary cardholder’s spending activity and help them hit the spending requirements for earning a sign-up bonus. If you're working on a large welcome bonus, having someone else help you meet the spending requirements is useful.

Activity on additional cards will also go toward achieving any of the spending-based annual benefits certain cards offer, such as a free weekend night with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card or earning additional Medallion Qualification Miles with either the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card.

Help others build credit

Although your goal might be more points and more rewards for yourself, one of the best reasons to add authorized users to your credit card account is to help them build their own credit and raise their credit score. This can be especially beneficial for someone who might have bad or damaged credit or for a teenager who is just starting their credit journey and might not be able to qualify for a credit card on their own.

When someone is added as an authorized user, the account is added to that person’s credit report. So if the account is handled responsibly, all the factors that can boost your score with your own accounts — on-time payments, low amounts owed, etc. — will eventually begin to raise the authorized user’s score too.

Related: The 6 best starter cards for building your credit

It's worth noting that does not always apply to American Express credit cards. When adding someone to your Chase or Citi credit card, for example, the original account opening date will be listed on your authorized user's credit report. This can add several years of credit history to that person's credit report. However, American Express cards opened in the past few years have stopped reporting the full account history for authorized users. Instead, only the date the authorized user was added to the account is listed on the credit report. This can add positive activity but not any longevity to your authorized user's credit report — and can affect that person's 5/24 status, if that's a concern.

Adding your children as authorized users to your credit cards will help them build a credit history and will hopefully lead to better credit scores as they transition to adulthood. MASKOT/GETTY IMAGES

Additional account transfer options

Adding a friend or relative as an authorized user can allow you to share your points and miles together.

With Chase credit cards, you can transfer points between your own accounts and those of a family member living at your same address (or a business employee if you're using points from a business credit card) to combine your Ultimate Rewards points. You also can transfer these points to a loyalty program in that person's name.

With American Express, you cannot directly move Membership Rewards points from your account to someone else's Amex points account. However, after someone has been an authorized user on your card for at least 90 days, you can transfer your points to that person's loyalty account at one of Amex's hotel or airline partners.

Caveats

Despite all the benefits, there are a few drawbacks to adding authorized users to your credit card accounts. First, the primary cardholder is responsible for paying off all purchases, so you should only add someone you trust and put in place any spending controls you deem necessary. Many issuers will let primary cardholders track spending and set spending limits on additional accounts.

Second, additional cards sometimes come at a cost. Before you open any, be sure you know whether you will have to pay annual fees for adding users to your account.

Third, many credit cards do not confer the same benefits upon authorized users that the primary cardholder enjoys. For example, the primary cardholder for a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® account must be traveling with an authorized user to activate benefits such as free checked bags and preferred boarding.

If you know the requirements and limitations of taking on additional cards with your account, you should be able to maximize their value and benefits.

Bottom line

There are plenty of reasons to add an authorized user to your credit card account. It can help someone build their credit and improve their score, net you extra points on both a sign-up bonus and in terms of everyday spending, and it can extend the use of your points to more friends or family members.

Certain high-end credit cards also bestow value-added benefits on authorized users, such as lounge access, Global Entry reimbursements and inflight purchase discounts. As always, when considering a credit card, look at your spending habits and needs and then determine whether you will get enough value out of adding authorized users to justify any annual fees you might incur.

Official application link: Capital One Venture X.
Official application link: Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Official application link: Amex Platinum Card.
Official application link: Amex Business Platinum Card.
Official application link: Delta SkyMiles Reserve.
Official application link: Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business.
Official application link: Citi / AAdvantage Executive.

Additional reporting by Stella Shon, Benét J. Wilson, Madison Blancaflor and Ryan Smith.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Delta Reserve card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Delta Reserve Business card, click here.

Featured image by RGSTUDIO/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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