underscored best cards couples lead

CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Sharing your credit is a sure sign of your commitment to someone. And, for couples, it can be a great opportunity to double down on your points and miles strategy for free travel.

Adding your significant other, parent, child or any other important person in your life as an authorized user on your credit card could mean additional perks for you — and for them. But keep in mind that some cards are better than others.

Here are some of the best credit cards for adding authorized users. If you’re not sure whether an authorized user card is right for you, check out our most frequently asked questions about authorized users later on in this story.

The best credit cards for authorized users

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best premium credit card for authorized user benefits
Capital One Venture X: Best credit card with no fee for authorized users
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best credit card with travel protection for authorized users
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best cash back credit card for authorized users

Why did we choose these as our best credit cards for authorized users? Let’s dive into the details of each card and see what makes each one of them worth considering for an authorized user.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Best premium credit card for authorized user benefits

Amex Platinum authorized users get some of the same perks as the primary card holder.

Why it’s great for authorized users in one sentence: Authorized users, similar to primary card holders, receive their own hotel and car rental elite status with the Amex Platinum, have access to airport lounges and get a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee statement credit.

Highlights for both primary card holders and authorized users:

  • Earn 5 points for every dollar you spend on airfare booked with Amex Travel or directly through the airline.
  • Earn 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked via Amex Travel.
  • Access to the Global Lounge Collection, including Amex Centurion Lounges, a Priority Pass membership (enrollment required) and Delta Sky Clubs when flying with Delta.
  • Additional benefits on hotels bookings with Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection when booked via American Express Travel.
  • Up to $100 in credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership once every four and a half years.
  • No foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
  • Hotel elite status — Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold (enrollment required).
  • Car rental elite status — Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive.
  • Terms apply.

What we like about the Amex Platinum: Authorized users receive a wide variety of benefits with the Amex Platinum card, perhaps more than any other credit card. Just as primary card holders do, they’ll get hotel Gold elite status with both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy as well as car rental elite status with Hertz, Avis and National.

Authorized users also receive a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit every four and a half years, and they can also enter airport lounges even when traveling without the primary card holder. (Be sure to read the fine print on how many guests you can bring into different lounges, as it varies by lounge program.)

Also, when authorized users book a property that’s part of Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts and the Hotel Collection through Amex Travel, they’ll get additional benefits. It can also give primary card holders peace of mind to know authorized users get fraud and purchase protection too.

Additional key perks for primary card holders: Amex Platinum primary card holders get a myriad of other benefits that aren’t applicable to authorized users, such as up to $200 in Uber Cash each year, up to a $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit annually (enrollment required), up to $240 in annual digital subscription credits (enrollment required), a CLEAR statement credit of up to $179 per year, up to $200 in statement credits on select prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel, up to a $200 airline fee credit, up to a $300 Equinox statement credit (enrollment required) and more.

Do note that all of these additional primary card perks, such as the up to $200 in annual airline fee credits and the CLEAR membership credit, will show up as a statement credit when charged to the authorized user’s card, but authorized users don’t get their own fee credit — it’s only one credit per card account.

Welcome bonus offer: Earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership.

Annual fee: $695 (see rates and fees)

Fee for authorized users: $175 total for up to three authorized users, then $175 per user for each additional card after the first three. Note that you can get free Gold Cards for authorized users, but they won’t receive many of the aforementioned authorized user perks if you don’t splurge for the cost of the Platinum authorized user card.

Learn more about The Platinum Card from American Express.

Capital One Venture X

Best credit card with no fee for authorized users

capital one venture x credit card with sunglasses

Why it’s great for authorized users in one sentence: This card doesn’t charge a fee to add authorized users — you can add up to four — and offers them benefits such as a Priority Pass membership and Capital One Lounge access.

Highlights for both primary card holders and authorized users:

  • Priority Pass membership, including access for two guests.
  • Capital One Lounge access, including access for two guests.
  • Hertz President’s Circle elite status.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Earn 10 Venture miles per dollar on hotels and cars, and 5 miles per dollar on flights when booked through Capital One Travel.
  • Earn 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases.
  • Access to purchase protection, trip delay insurance, trip cancellation insurance, trip interruption insurance and cell phone protection.

What we like: The Capital One Venture X gives both primary card holders and authorized users lounge access — at Priority Pass and Capital One Lounges — and the ability to take two guests in with them at no cost. Authorized users also get Hertz elite status and the ability to earn bonus points in select categories as well as being eligible for travel insurance and purchase protection.

Additional key perks for primary card holders: The Venture X offers additional benefits to primary card holders, including $300 in statement credits for travel purchases booked through Capital One Travel, plus 10,000 bonus miles on every account anniversary. Primary card holders also get up to a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit once every four years.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus miles after spending $10,000 on purchases within the first six months after opening the account.

Annual fee: $395

Fee for authorized users: $0 for up to four additional card holders

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Best travel protection for authorized users

Your authorized user will have access to travel protections with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Why it’s great for authorized users in one sentence: Chase Sapphire Reserve authorized users get a Priority Pass membership — including access for two free guests — as well as the same travel protection coverage as primary card holders.

Highlights for both primary card holders and authorized users:

  • Earn 3 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases.
  • Earn 5 total points per dollar on flights purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Earn 10 total points per dollar on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase.
  • Earn 10 total points per dollar on Chase Dining purchases.
  • Priority Pass membership, including access for two guests.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Trip delay and cancellation/interruption insurance coverage.

What we like about the Chase Sapphire Reserve: Authorized users with the Chase Sapphire Reserve have the ability to enter Priority Pass lounges and bring two guests with them. They’re also eligible for all the card’s travel protections, though it’s worth noting that these protections are already extended to the immediate family of the primary card holder. But if the authorized user isn’t immediate family, this perk can be very beneficial.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s trip cancellation/interruption insurance offers protection for up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours and hotels. For trips that are delayed more than six hours or require an overnight stay, you’re covered for expenses like meals and accommodation up to $500 per ticket.

Additional key perks for primary card holders: Primary card holders also receive additional perks like a $300 travel credit each year and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit every four years.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account.

Annual fee: $550

Fee for authorized users: $75 per year

Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

Best cash back credit card for authorized users

underscored amex blue cash preferred

Why it’s great for authorized users in one sentence: Purchases made by Blue Cash Preferred authorized users are eligible for cash back on the card member’s statement.

Highlights for both card holders and authorized users:

  • Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • Earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • Earn 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/ride-share, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • Earn 1% cash back on everything else.
  • All cash back is earned as a statement credit.
  • Terms apply.

What we like about the Blue Cash Preferred: For authorized users who want to build credit and help the primary card member get cash back, the Blue Cash Preferred from Amex is a great card to help them achieve their goals.

Additional key perks for primary card holders: This card is pretty basic, so don’t expect to get a lot of extras here. But for primary card members who simply want cash back, this is the way to go. Make sure to take advantage of the 6% cash back bonus categories for premium cash back earning.

Welcome bonus offer: Earn $300 in statement credits after you spend $3,000 in the first six months after opening the account.

Annual fee: $0 for the first year, then $95 (see rates and fees)

Fee for authorized users: None

Learn more about the Blue Cash Everyday card from American Express.

What is an authorized user?

When a person applies for and is approved to open a credit card, they become the primary card holder. Any additional users added to the card are deemed authorized users — sometimes referred to as secondary account holders or additional card holders. Authorized users get a credit card in their name, but the card is connected to the primary card holder’s account.

Authorized users can make charges on the credit card they’ve been added to but have no liability when it comes to paying the bill. This is exactly why primary card holders should be very cautious about adding authorized users to their account. At the end of the day, the primary card holder is responsible for paying off any charges made with the authorized user’s card.

The difference between a joint account and an authorized user

A joint credit card account is an account opened between two people. This means that both parties have separate cards, can make charges and are both responsible for payments. Both parties will see the effects of the card on their credit score too.

Consider a joint credit card as a partnership where both parties are responsible for the charges, whereas with an authorized user credit card, only the primary card holder is responsible for the charges even though both people can spend on the account.

How does adding authorized users affect credit scores?

In most cases, adding an authorized user to your credit card won’t negatively affect your credit score. However, if the authorized user is irresponsible or excessively charging purchases that you, as the primary card holder, can’t afford to pay off, your credit will be negatively affected.

It’s worth noting that being an authorized user can positively affect your credit score over time. This is especially beneficial for authorized users looking to build credit, such as teens or college students, or even adults who could use a credit boost. Keep in mind that you, as the primary card holder, could also hurt their credit score if you don’t pay your bills in full and on time.

underscored credit card computer

Pros and cons of adding an authorized user

While it may seem like there aren’t many pros to adding authorized users to your credit card, there are — especially on the right credit cards.

Pros for primary card holders

The biggest perk for adding an authorized user is that with some cards, authorized users can utilize the benefits that come as perks of the cards. For example, consider lounge access at airports. If you have a large family, it may be worth adding your partner as an authorized user on your card so they can also obtain their own lounge access. Plus, in many cases, you both get guest entry, so your entire family can enter the lounge.

And remember, many cards allow authorized users to earn bonus points on purchases, meaning the authorized user’s purchases can help you grow your stash of earned rewards, whether that be points, miles or even cash back on your statement.

Cons for primary card holders

You are responsible for paying off any charges the authorized user makes. This is why it’s important to be cautious about who you add to your card. If you can’t pay off the charges your authorized user makes, it will negatively affect your credit score or cost you more in additional fees or interest. Also, while every card is different, you may have to pay a fee for adding an authorized user.

Pros for authorized users

Being added as an authorized user on a credit card can help build credit. While there are credit cards for people with bad credit, it may be worth exploring the option of becoming an authorized user first.

Authorized users can also piggyback off of some of the benefits the primary card holder gets, such as statement credits on purchases, elite status, bonus points, lounge access and other perks. And authorized users aren’t held liable for payment on any of the charges they make on the card either — that’s the responsibility of the primary card holder.

Cons for authorized users

If the primary card holder mismanages the account, this can negatively affect the authorized user’s credit score.

Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards of 2022.