How Adding an Authorized User to Your Card Can Benefit You (and Them)

First of all, I realize I’ve been writing about the American Express Platinum card a lot lately — but, hey, it’s my shiny new toy so please bear with me. While penning my full review of the card recently, I realized there was one way I might be able to further benefit from the card. How? By adding an authorized user.

Of course, authorized usership is not something that’s new to me. In fact, following a credit card hiatus that lasted from my early twenties into my thirtieth year, I attribute the strong credit score I found after that to my wife adding me to her long-held card. I imagine this is a major reason why spouses might make each other authorized users or why a parent might even add their child.

Back to the Platinum card, since my wife and I are both pretty set on credit at the moment, our interest in authorized userdom (sidenote: what would the proper term actually be?) revolved around the additional perks she would get. See, by adding a Platinum account holder to your card, they’ll receive the same lounge access and hotel access as the main cardholder. Plus, it seems they’ll also be able to add their own Amex Offers, which I have found to be quite useful. The only real difference is that they won’t receive any of the various credits for Uber, Saks Fifth Avenue, or airline incidentals — although their purchases at Saks or your selected airline might trigger these credits.

If it sounds too good to be true, as you may have guessed, there is a bit of a catch. In order to add another Platinum user, there’s an annual fee of $175. However, this fee actually covers up to three people. Thus, once we decided it would be a good idea to add my wife to the card, we asked a trusted friend of ours if they too would be interested in getting free stuff. By the way, if you don’t feel like spending extra to add a Platinum user, there are also free “gold” cards for authorized users that strip almost all of the premium benefits (although they do apparently still get a Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit — as do Platinum AUs).

Whether you want to help someone build credit or let them enjoy some of the perks you already pay for with a premium card, adding them as an authorized user may be a smart solution. At the same time, it’s important to consider the downsides as well. For one, you’ll still be responsible for any purchases they make — so it better be someone you trust. On the other end, being an authorized user might mean you also take on some of the negative aspects of the main cardholder’s credit. Also, certain card issuers may handle authorized users differently, so the impacts to credit can vary.

So, have you added/will you be adding an authorized user to your credit cards?

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and the founder of Money@30.com.

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I once did add a close friend and it didn’t turn up well, me having to pay the monthly dues.

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