My Two Favorite Credit Cards For Adding Authorized Users

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If you have a family member who is also interested in a credit card, it can sometimes make sense to have them apply for a card directly, while other times it can make sense to add them as an authorized user instead. Other times it’s more or less a wash. Of course it depends on the cost to add authorized users, as well as the benefits that authorized users receive.

Well, in this post I wanted to share what I consider to be two of the most lucrative cards in terms of their authorized user benefits, based on the value you get. In no particular order:

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

This is American’s most premium credit card, which has a $450 annual fee. The card comes with an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardmember, which in and of itself can be worthwhile, given that it’s the lowest cost you could possibly pay for an Admirals Club membership as an Executive Platinum member.

However, it gets much better than that. You can add up to 10 authorized users to the card at no additional cost, and each of them gets Admirals Club access as well whenever they fly. They don’t have to be flying American, and can each take in two guests or their immediate family members.

So while I would have gotten the card just for myself, it’s so much more valuable when you can give all your family and many friends Admirals Club access when they fly at no additional cost. It’s super easy to add authorized users online, and there’s no cost to do so.


American Admirals Club Los Angeles

The Platinum Card® from American Express

I find the Amex Platinum Card to be well worth the $550 annual fee, personally. While that sounds like a lot of money, there are major benefits that offset the annual fee. To start, the card has a $200 annual airline fee credit and $200 annual Uber credit, both of which I value pretty close to face value.

On top of that the card offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines, a Priority Pass membership, access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta same day, access to Amex Centurion Lounges, access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, etc.


Amex Centurion Lounge Hong Kong

While the annual fee is quite a bit of cash out of pocket, one of the great benefits of the card is that you can add up to three authorized users for a total of $175. That fee applies regardless of whether you choose to add one, two, or three users, so you might as well add three.

That means you’re really paying under $60 out of pocket per authorized user. While they don’t get the airline fee credit or Uber credit, authorized users do receive:

  • A Priority Pass membership with guesting privileges
  • Access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta same day
  • Access to Amex Centurion Lounges
  • Access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
  • Hilton Honors Gold status & SPG Gold status
  • 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines


Delta SkyClub Seattle

Those are some incredible perks for under $60 per person per year. So if you have the Amex Platinum Card, it absolutely makes sense to add authorized users.

Bottom line

While the cards are very different, the value of adding authorized users on both The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® and The Platinum Card® from American Express is exceptional. With the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card you can give up to 10 additional people Admirals Club access without paying anything extra, while with the Amex Platinum Card you can pay a total of $175 to add up to three authorized users, and they receive a slew of benefits, ranging from hotel status to airline lounge access.

What’s your favorite credit card authorized user benefit?

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Comments

  1. How do you have “5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines” as a benefit of the authorized user on the AMEX Platinum? Those points go to the main account holder, correct? That’s like saying it earns 1 MR/dollar on most purchases as a benefit.

  2. Does the Executive card provide access to Alaska lounges when traveling on Alaska? FT seems a little unclear; was curious if you’ve tried.

  3. On the Amex Platinum card , could I add two children ? Would want this specifically for lounge access when we travel.
    If yes, that would be an amazing additional perk

  4. @Evan – the primary cardholder is able to access Alaska lounges, but authorized users aren’t. I have this card as the primary and use Alaska lounges without any issue. When my wife (authorized user) travels without me, she is denied entry to Alaska lounges 100% of the time. Works fine to access Admirals Club, as advertised.

  5. I think the best version of this card is the American Express Platinum Card from Morgan Stanley. It has all of the same benefits as the version that you wrote about here, but it gives you your first authorized user free. So they get an additional card with the benefits too (no Uber or airline credit for the additional auth user). Then each authorized user after that one is $175. Of course you have to have a Morgan Stanley account, but they are not too hard to get as you can really just open their basic account which is similar to a checking account that you would have at any other bank. It works for me and I didn’t have to shell out more money for another authorized user.

  6. Ooops…meant to say that the first authorized user is free and then you can add up to 3 additional after that for a total fee of $175 (not $175 each).

  7. I added each of my children to my AMEX Platinum as soon as they turned 15 (the minimum age). I hand them their cards each time we visit a Delta Sky Club and they think they are VIPs!

    I also think it has helped establish their credit, as my oldest child who just turned 18 had a solid FICO score that enabled her to get her own credit card.

  8. Todd: From the cursory reading I’ve done about Morgan Stanley, it doesn’t seem like you can open a “basic checking account” unless you have in excess of a million dollars of assets tied up in Morgan Stanley. Can you shed some more light on how to do this?

  9. Just an FYI. I was unaware that adding myself as an authorized user on my wife’s recent Chase SW Plus (Cali deal) put me over the 5/24 rule at 6 cards. I confirmed with the reconsideration agent for my own Chase Biz Pref. that my most recent “card” was indeed that auth user card.

    I don’t ever remember reading about that anywhere on the many Points/Miles blogs I read. Something to keep in mind.

  10. If just interested in Priority pass The Citi Prestige authorized user fee is $50 AND you never need to actually give the credit card, just give them the priority pass

  11. City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinite Card is the best. No fee for adding authorized users. You can add up to 3 and all get the $250 annual airline incidental credit

  12. Lucky, I’m quite disappointed with this article. It seems like an advertisement for the two cards you outline. There are other cards that have a lot of benefit for adding people, as well, but you don’t mention them.

  13. Alaska lounges are definitely YMMV – we have been denied access based on the card alone. We were also flying first, so were allowed to enter. We did also have Priority Pass. Could have been a capacity issue.

  14. I would say the Chase Ritz card is my favorite for adding authorized users since it is free and they get a PriorityPass.

  15. Also the authorize users , including Gold, get their own GE/TSA precheck credit on the platinum.
    Confirmed via live chat, message and also csr

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