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Credit cards with the greatest value for authorized users

Nov. 23, 2021
28 min read
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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 improve 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.

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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 authorized users.

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What is an authorized user?

Adding your teenager as an authorized user can be an excellent way to help them build credit at a young age. (Photo by Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images)

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.

Considering that authorized user fees are typically less expensive than annual fees, 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.

Overview of the best cards for authorized users

CardAnnual feeAuthorized user feeRewards rate
Capital One Venture X$395Free for up to four authorized users10x on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel

5x on flights booked through Capital One Travel

2x on all other eligible purchases

Chase Sapphire Reserve$550$75 per additional cardholder10x on Lyft (until March 2025)

3x on travel and dining

1x on everything else

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

5x on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel

For new cardholders, 10x on eligible purchases at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations on up to $15,000 in spending during the first six months

1x on other eligible purchases

Terms apply

The Business Platinum Card from American Express$595 ($695 if the application is received on or after Jan. 13, 2022; see rates & fees)$300 per additional cardholder (see rates & fees)5x on flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel

1.5x on eligible purchases over $5,000 and on eligible purchases in select business categories (up to $2 million in purchases per calendar year)

Terms apply

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card$550 (see rates & fees)$175 per additional cardholder (see rates & fees)3x on eligible Delta purchases

1x on other eligible purchases

Terms apply

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card$550 (see rates & fees)$175 per additional cardholder (see rates & fees)3x on eligible Delta purchases

1.5x on all other purchases after you spend $150,000 on your card each calendar year

Terms apply

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard$450Up to 10 additional cardholders free2x on eligible American Airlines purchases

1x on other purchases

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

Capital One Venture X

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

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.

Primary cardholder benefits:

  • Sign-up bonus of 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Earn 10 points per dollar spent on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel, 5 points per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel and 2 points per dollar on all other eligible purchases.
  • Up to $300 in travel statement credit for bookings made through Capital One Travel.
  • Capital One miles transfer to 14 airline and three hotel partners, or you can redeem for any travel purchases on your statement credit and for new bookings through Capital One Travel at a rate of 1 cent each.
  • Unlimited access to Capital One lounges for you and up to two guests (then $45 each).
  • Priority Pass Select membership for you and up to two guests.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement.
  • Complimentary Hertz President's Circle elite status.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Read our full review of the Capital One Venture X here.

Authorized user benefits: Capital One lounge access for the authorized user and up to two guests, as well as Priority Pass Select membership for access to 1,300-plus lounges worldwide for the authorized user and up to two guests. Your authorized user and their two guests can even get between $28 and $30 for food and drink at participating airport restaurants. 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.

Additional card fees: No fee when adding up to four authorized users.

Related: You and 14 friends can all access the airport lounge with the Venture X

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

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

Primary cardholder benefits:

Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve here.

Authorized user benefits: A Priority Pass Select membership and access to airport lounges worldwide. They are not eligible for the annual travel credit or Global Entry/TSA PreCheck reimbursement. 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 (must activate by March 31).

Additional card fees: Additional cards cost $75 each per year.

Related: How to maximize earning with the Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael for The Points Guy)

One of the top all-around premium rewards cards available offers comprehensive perks for the primary cardmember and some great authorized user benefits. This card has an annual fee of $695 (see rates and fees).

Primary cardholder benefits:

* Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Read our full review of the Amex Platinum here.

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 Uber VIP status, 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 refunds, 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. In terms of Centurion and Priority Pass lounges, that means they can bring two guests for free, although they can only enter Delta Sky Clubs themselves, with no guests allowed.

Additional card 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 can also get complimentary Amex Gold cards, which are different from the American Express® Gold Card. The complimentary Gold card earns 5x on flights booked through Amex Travel or directly with airlines and on prepaid hotels on Amex Travel and 1x on all other spending. Each additional card is eligible for one statement credit every four years toward the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee (up to $100). 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.

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

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

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. This card has an annual fee of $595 that will increase to $695 on Jan. 13, 2022 (see rates and fees).

Primary cardholder benefits:

* Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Read our full review of the Business Platinum Amex here.

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 refunds and receive access to Centurion, Priority Pass and Delta Sky Club lounges, among others.

Additional card fees: Business Platinum cardmembers can tack on additional cards for $300 each (see rates and fees), so it’s not nearly as good a deal as with the personal card, but still worth considering.

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

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

Citi’s top-tier American Airlines cobranded card costs $450 per year. But for that, primary cardholders can expect a dozen value-added benefits.

Primary cardholder benefits:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus AAdvantage miles after you make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.
  • Full Admirals Club membership, including access to partner lounges. The cardholder can bring immediate family 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.
  • 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 refund once every five years (up to $100).
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Read our full review of the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard here.

Authorized user benefits: Let’s cut to the chase: The best feature of this product is that additional cardholders can also access American Airlines' Admirals Clubs and bring immediate family members or up to two guests in 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 elite-qualifying miles. 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.

Additional card fees: Here’s where this card really proves its value: You can add up to 10 authorized users, each of whom has Admirals Club access and can bring in guests – meaning you can essentially get 10 memberships for less than the price of one.

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

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

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).

Primary cardholder benefits:

  • The Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card is currently offering new cardmembers Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first three months of account opening.
  • The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card is currently offering 60,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership.
  • 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 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 1/2 years) or Global Entry (every four years, up to $100).
  • Cardmembers receive Delta Sky Club access when traveling on same-day Delta flights and can purchase additional guest passes for $39.
  • 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 for each threshold when they hit $30,000, $60,000, $90,000 and $120,000 of spending in a calendar year, up to a total 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 $75.

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.

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

Does adding authorized users affect your credit score?

Adding an authorized user won't affect your credit score. However, keep in mind 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. 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

Reasons to add authorized users

There are plenty of compelling reasons to add authorized users to your credit card accounts.

Increased welcome bonuses

Some credit cards offer new applicants more 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 The Platinum Card from American Express. In each case, you could earn 5,000 Membership Rewards points for every authorized user you added, who then spent $500 in the first three months on their card. Bonuses were capped at 20,000 points (equivalent to four additional users) on each card (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 making sure 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

In the same vein, any spending on an authorized user’s card will count toward the primary cardholder’s spending activity and help them hit the threshold for earning a sign-up bonus.

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 card on their own.

When someone is made 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

Adding your children as authorized users to your credit cards will help them build a credit history as they transition to adulthood. (Photo by Maskot/Getty Images)

Account transfer options

Folks who earned transferable points, such as American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, used to be able to transfer those points to the partner accounts (frequent flyer and hotel programs) of anyone they wanted. Not anymore. Chase now only lets Ultimate Rewards earners transfer points to other members of their household. Amex will usually let you transfer to the accounts of employees, authorized users or a spouse. So adding a relative, partner or employee to your account can be a useful way to stretch your transfer options.

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 any spending controls you deem necessary in place. 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 Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® primary cardholder must be traveling with an authorized user to activate benefits such as free checked bags and preferred boarding.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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 both for a sign-up bonus and in terms of everyday spending, and 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.
Official application link: Amex Business Platinum.
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 and Madison Blancaflor.

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

Featured image by (Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
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.