Quick points: The benefits of adding a relative as an authorized user
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Adding a loved one — whether it’s a partner, child or another family member — as an authorized user on a credit card can help in many different ways.
For one, it might simplify things. Instead of putting expenses on multiple cards and settling up after the fact or paying multiple different bills each month, you can simply divide one bill between two people or pay from one shared account, depending on your situation, of course. Plus, the primary cardholder earns all the points, which could help if the authorized user didn’t care about points anyway.
But there are other perks that come with adding someone as an authorized user, too. In this edition of Quick Points, we’ll take a closer look at these benefits and discuss how this can help you earn more points and benefit the authorized user at the same time.
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Benefits of adding an authorized user
Beyond just simplifying expenses, there are some lesser-known benefits to adding authorized users to your credit cards. Some of these include:
- The primary cardholder earns rewards on all transactions — and after all, if you’re liable for paying an expense, you might as well reap the rewards, too.
- Likewise, the authorized user’s spending usually counts toward the minimum spend requirement for welcome offers.
- The authorized user will build credit when you pay your card on time, which can be beneficial if you add your child as an authorized user.
- Speaking of children, authorized user cards generally have lower age requirements. For example, American Express lets those as young as 13 years old become authorized users. Chase doesn’t have a minimum age limit.
- Some premium cards let authorized users access travel benefits. For example, Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® authorized users 18 or older can access Admirals Club lounges with their card when flying with American Airlines or another Oneworld carrier.
In most cases, authorized users are still eligible for the card’s welcome offer if they decide to apply for their own card down the road. So if you add your partner as an authorized user on your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and they later decide to open their own card, they’re still eligible for whatever welcome bonus the card is offering when they apply.
The risks of adding (and being) an authorized user
Adding an authorized user doesn’t come without risks.
The main risk of adding an authorized user to your account is that you’re still liable to pay all charges posted to the account, even if your authorized user makes the purchase. With this in mind, you should only add extremely trusted individuals as authorized users on your card.
One way to mitigate this risk is by adding spending limits to authorized user cards. Not all banks offer this, but the most notable is American Express. You can add limits as low as $200 to American Express authorized user cards.
Further, authorized users take on some risk when being added to someone else’s account, too. If the primary cardholder doesn’t pay their bill on time, the authorized user’s credit may also suffer. That said, in most cases, the authorized user will not be held liable for charges made to the account if the primary cardholder doesn’t pay their bill.
If you find yourself in this situation, call the issuing bank and ask to be removed as an authorized user. You can then dispute the late payment with the credit bureaus if necessary.
Adding a relative or another very trusted person as an authorized user is a great way to build up your points stash while helping that person build credit and take advantage of various perks. But before you add an authorized user to your account, make sure you’re comfortable with the risks.
Feature photo by Maskot/Getty Images
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