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Battle of the authorized users: Comparing benefits on three premium travel credit cards

Dec. 03, 2021
9 min read
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If you tend to travel in groups — whether that's with family members, friends or coworkers — you're likely aware of the value of adding authorized users to share premium credit card benefits such as lounge access or complimentary travel protections.

Three top travel cards come to mind when it comes to the best authorized user benefits: the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® and The Platinum® Card from American Express.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

All of these cards come with considerable annual fees, ranging from $395 to $695 per year (see rates and fees for the Amex Platinum). But most cardholders can usually justify these costs if they have any authorized users to add who can share in these primary cardholder benefits.

We'll compare the benefits and costs to help you determine which card is the best for adding authorized users.

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Overview of authorized user benefits

Capital One Venture XCiti / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MastercardAmex Platinum
Welcome bonusEarn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.Earn 80,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,500 within the first three months of account opening.Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership.
Annual fee$395$450$695 (see rates and fees)
Authorized user feeFree for up to the first four users.Free for up to the first 10 users.$175 to add up to three additional card users, then $175 per card thereafter (see rates and fees).
Authorized user benefits
  • Capital One lounge access for the authorized user and up to two guests.
  • Priority Pass Select membership for the authorized user and up to two guests.
  • Complimentary Hertz President’s Circle elite status.
  • Travel and purchase protections (via Visa Infinite benefits).
  • Admirals Club access for the authorized user and up to two guests.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection access.
  • Statement credit every four years toward the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee (up to $100).
  • Complimentary Marriott and Hilton Gold elite status.
  • Complimentary elite status in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive.
  • Enrollment required for select benefits.

Related: Credit cards with the greatest value for authorized users

Capital One Venture X authorized user benefits

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The Capital One Venture X offers some heavy-hitting travel benefits for both the primary cardholder and authorized users. For the lowest annual fee on this list ($395 per year), Venture X cardholders can add up to four authorized users for no cost. If you take advantage of adding all four authorized users onto this card, that's like paying $79 per year, per person — a great deal considering the excellent list of benefits that come with the card.

Here's everything that a Venture X authorized user will receive with the card.

Related: You and 14 friends can all access the airport lounge with this card

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Citi / AAdvantage Executive authorized user benefits

The Citi®/ AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is an example of a World Elite Mastercard. (Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is American Airlines' top credit card offering and comes with a $450 annual fee. One of the main benefits of this card is complimentary Admirals Club access for you and up to two guests — but this benefit can be shared with up to 10 authorized users for no additional cost.

Considering that Admirals Club membership alone costs $650 per year for basic AAdvantage members (with no elite status), paying a $450 annual fee for one membership is already a great deal. But the ability to share this access with up to 10 authorized users and their two guests each? That's like getting up to 33 people into the Admirals Club for free. While it's unlikely that you have this many people to add as authorized users or even bring to the lounge, never say never, and this card is truly among the best for those who frequently travel in large groups.

You answered, we listened: The Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard even won this year's reader's choice award as the best premium credit card in the 2021 TPG Awards.

Unfortunately, authorized users of this card won't get other benefits like Global Entry or TSA Precheck reimbursement, free checked bags or priority boarding when traveling without the primary cardholder.

Related: Easiest way to get American Airlines Admirals Club airport lounge access (and share it, too)

Amex Platinum authorized user benefits

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael for The Points Guy)

The last card of the bunch is the Amex Platinum, with the most expensive annual fee of almost any consumer card on the market. The $695 annual fee becomes even steeper when you add authorized users. There's a flat $175 fee to add up to three users (so roughly $60 per person) and $175 per user thereafter.

Note that you can request Gold cards for your authorized users and not pay additional fees. But don't confuse these authorized user cards with the American Express® Gold Card, as these authorized user cards won't get any of the benefits listed below.

Though the fees may seem costly at first glance, the benefits awarded to the authorized users on the Amex Platinum are quite valuable:

  • Airport lounge access: Your authorized user can visit the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which won the 2021 TPG Editor's Choice Awards for Best Card Perk, so the ability to share this amazing benefit is huge. Access also includes American Express Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Delta Sky Clubs on same-day Delta flights and more, making this the most comprehensive lounge access worldwide. Guest policies depend on each type of lounge. For example, your authorized users can bring up to two guests to the Centurion Lounge for free (well, for now). To enroll in the Priority Pass lounge benefit, authorized users will need to call the number on the back of their Platinum card.
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck reimbursement: Every four years for Global Entry and every 4.5 years for TSA Precheck, your authorized user can charge their application fee to their card and get reimbursed for either trusted traveler program.
  • Complimentary hotel elite status: In both Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, authorized users can call the number on the back of their card to get Gold elite status with these hotel loyalty programs. Both levels will get you room upgrades (if available), bonus points and additional amenities.
  • Complimentary car rental elite status: Authorized users can enroll in complimentary elite status through Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive on Amex’s website.

Related: Why you should add authorized users on your Amex Platinum

Bottom line

While adding authorized users won't give them all of the benefits that you enjoy as the primary cardholder, you'll get to share a decent number of benefits — sometimes for no additional cost.

If you're thinking of applying for a premium credit card for the sake of authorized user benefits, be sure to review the perks to help you decide which card presents the best long-term value for your travel habits.

If you're a frequent American Airlines flyer, the Citi AAdvantage Executive card is a no-brainer. If your goal is to share lounge benefits with your immediate family members without incurring an additional fee, the Venture X offers unbeatable value. Finally, if you don't mind paying a higher cost to get and give the best lounge access worldwide, the Amex Platinum wins on that front.

Official application link: Capital One Venture X.
Official application link: Citi/AAdvantage Executive.
Official application link: Amex Platinum.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.

Featured image by 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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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023