- Many credit cards don’t charge anything extra to add an authorised user, but some do.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express charges $US175 per year for up to three authorised users, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve charges $US75 per authorised user.
- Even though additional fees don’t sound great, authorised users can get a bunch of benefits like airport lounge access some credit cards.
- Make sure you consider whether it would make more sense to apply for the card outright instead. You’ll get more benefits this way, but if you’re building credit, you may not be able to be approved for a premium credit card.
Most credit cards don’t charge an additional fee to add authorised users. Premium cards, on the other hand, usually do charge fees to add a partner, family member, or spouse to your account. It can be worth paying the fee, though, because authorised users on premium credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Amex Platinum can get benefits like airport lounge access and even hotel elite status.
If you’re considering paying to add an authorised user to your credit card, it makes sense to perform a cost/benefit analysis first, taking into account your personal situation. It’s also essential to fully understand the risks and benefits of adding an authorised user.
Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.
When you’re working to earn credit card rewards, it’s important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically,
treat your credit card like a debit card
What is an authorised user?
Adding an authorised user to your existing account is different than them setting up their own account. Authorised users aren’t the main account holder; instead, they’re using a credit card that’s tied to the main account. Being added as an authorised user means the main account holder is assuming the risk.
Although the bank will have identifying information for the other person, the account will usually be reported on both your and their credit report. And although they may have the ability to make payments to the account from their own bank account,you are ultimately responsible for paying the bill.
Accordingly, adding an authorised user isn’t something to be taken lightly. However, in many situations, this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Some issuers, such as Amex, allow you to set a credit limit (even as low as $US200) to limit your risk exposure.
The benefit for the authorised user is that they can build credit this way – since the main account holder’s payments will be added to the authorised user’s credit report, if they’re starting from zero this can help them develop good credit and eventually pave the way to them getting approved for credit cards and other financial accounts of their own.
Being added as an authorised user vs. getting your own account
There are two primary reasons to add an authorised user to an existing credit card account versus setting up a new account:cost savings and access.
When it comes to premium credit cards with high annual fees, it can be much less expensive to add an authorised user to an existing account than to set up a separate account and pay the card’s full annual fee. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $US450 annual fee, but each authorised user costs only $US75. Given that many of the same card benefits apply both to authorised users and the primary account, it can make sense to save the money.
Authorised users won’t receive a sign-up bonus, but purchases authorised users make will earn you rewards.
For people who are building or rebuilding credit, getting approved for a premium credit card usually isn’t a possibility in the short term. These products are typically reserved for those with above-average incomes and credit history.
However, credit history isn’t a factor that a card issuer considers when you add an authorised user. You can add anyone who is over the age of 18 as an authorised user to your account with any bank, and the activity on your account will be reported on their credit report. Some banks will even allow you to add an authorised user under 18 to your account.
The best premium credit cards for adding authorised users
When you add an authorised user, most (though not all) of the benefits of the premium card product apply to an authorised user’s card and the purchases they make with it.
Cost to add an authorised user: $US75 per authorised user
- Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access
- 3x points on dining and travel
- Primary car rental insurance and the rest of the card’s coverage and insurance benefits
- No separate $US300 annual travel credit (but purchases are counted against the primary account’s $US300-per-year travel credit).
- No additional Global Entry fee credit, although the primary account’s Global Entry fee credit can be used by the authorised user.
Cost to add an authorised user: $US175 for up to 3 authorised Platinum users, then $US175 for each additional one after that; $US0 per authorised Gold user
- Airport lounge access, including Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass Select membership, and Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta
- Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott
- Up to $US100 to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- For Amex Platinum authorised user cards:
- No airline fee credit of up to $US200 per year
- No Uber credits (up to $US200 per year)
- No Saks Fifth Avenue credits (up to $US100 per year)
- For the free Gold cards, nearly all premium benefits are subtracted except category bonuses for spending and Global Entry fee reimbursement. Standard Gold-level benefits, such as secondary rental car insurance, do still apply.
Click here to learn more about The Platinum Card from American Express from our partner The Points Guy
Cost to add an authorised user: Free for up to 5 authorised users; $US35 per user above 5
- 4x points on restaurants worldwide, 4x points at US supermarkets up to $US25,000 per year (then 1x)
- 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel
- No airline fee credit of up to $US100 per year
- No dining credits of up to $US120 per year
- No Amex Travel Collection membership
Premium credit card benefits can be extremely valuable. For example, Chase and Amex both offer a full Priority Pass Select membership for each authorised user. Have a family of four? By adding your partner as an authorised user and signing up for a second Priority Pass membership, the whole family will be able to access Priority Pass lounges when you take a trip – since you’re generally limited to two guests per Priority Pass account.
With the Amex Gold, it’s a total no-brainer for the first five authorised users. There’s no fee, and any spending at supermarkets, restaurants, or on airfare earns outsize bonuses. You’ll want to maximise these categories as much as possible.
Adding someone as an authorised user to the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Amex Platinum can be a tougher decision, because there’s so much value to be had as a primary account holder with these two cards. But if someone wouldn’t be able to be approved for either of these higher-end credit cards, gaining access as an authorised user could be an excellent decision, allowing them to enjoy some great perks while also helping them build credit.
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