Credit cards can be an incredible resource for building your credit, earning rewards, and receiving valuable perks. But did you know these benefits don’t have to be limited to the primary cardholder?
Many card issuers allow you to add authorized users to your credit card accounts, which can extend some of the benefits to someone else. This has become an increasingly popular practice, with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reporting that 9.6% of new consumer credit records were created by authorized users on existing credit accounts.
If you want a credit card with powerful features for authorized users, we’ve sorted the options for you. Here are the best credit cards for authorized users.
The best credit cards for authorized users
- Best for free premium benefits: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- Best for premium benefits: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Best for Chase travel benefits: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Best for travel and purchase coverage: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Best for restaurants: American Express® Gold Card
- Best for groceries: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
What is an authorized user?
An authorized user is essentially someone you’ve given permission to access your credit card account. This could include using your credit limit (spending limit) and using certain card benefits and features, but it’s not the same as a joint owner, joint account, or cosigner.
The level of access an authorized user receives depends on the individual credit card companies. In some cases, you could have the option to limit an authorized user’s abilities. Authorized users typically receive their own credit card with its own number, but it’s simply an additional card that’s linked to your account.
You might consider adding someone as an authorized user if you want to help them build their credit or so they can utilize valuable card benefits. This type of situation could be beneficial for the authorized user because they might not have to pay an annual fee or the fee could be lower than what you pay. If it’s to help build their credit, becoming an authorized user could be a simpler option for someone than trying to get their own credit card.
A common question that arises is whether authorized users are responsible for debt. If an authorized user has access to use a credit card tied to your account, they could potentially hurt your credit score if they miss payments or use too much of your credit. It’s often recommended to only add authorized users you personally know and trust, such as a family member.
The best credit cards for authorized users [December 2023]
|Card name||Best for||Why it’s special|
|Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card||Free premium benefits||No additional cost; Priority Pass; Hertz President’s Circle1|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Premium benefits||Choose Platinum or Gold card; Global Lounge Collection; hotel elite status (select benefits require enrollment)|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Chase travel benefits||Priority Pass; rewards earning; travel coverage|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Travel and purchase coverage||No additional cost; rewards earning; travel coverage|
|American Express® Gold Card||Restaurants||No additional cost; bonus rewards at U.S. restaurants|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||Groceries||No additional cost; bonus rewards at U.S. supermarkets|
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Best for free premium benefits
- Earning rate for authorized user: 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, and 5 miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel
- Annual fee for authorized user: $0
- Top authorized user benefits: Priority Pass membership and Hertz President’s Circle elite status
The Capital One Venture X is a premium travel credit card from Capital One that typically has a $395 annual fee. But for authorized users, there’s no annual fee and you still get some of the card’s premium benefits. This includes your own Priority Pass membership, which would typically cost more than $400 each year for a similar level of airport lounge access. This card’s Priority Pass membership includes complimentary credit at participating Priority Pass restaurants.
You also receive complimentary President’s Circle elite status with Hertz. This includes benefits such as guaranteed upgrades, the widest selection for choosing your own vehicle, and a dedicated Hertz Rewards line.
Because there’s no annual fee for authorized users, this card could make sense for a variety of people. It’s likely best if you’re interested in premium travel benefits, but it could be a good fit if you’re only looking to build your credit as well.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for premium benefits
- Earning rate for authorized user: 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases
- Annual fee for authorized user: $195 per additional authorized user
- Top authorized user benefits: Global Lounge Collection, Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors elite status, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit, access to Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts (select benefits require enrollment)
The Platinum Card from American Express is a prestigious travel card that comes with a massive $695 annual fee. But you have two options for cutting down this cost for your authorized users: pay $195 for each additional user or don’t pay anything for authorized users that receive Companion Platinum Cards. For this summary, we focus on authorized users with Platinum Cards, but know that Companion Platinum Cards are an option for $0 and fewer benefits.
Platinum Card authorized users receive a slew of travel benefits, including TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursement, complimentary hotel elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, and access to the Amex Global Lounge Collection. The lounge benefit includes access to The Centurion Lounge, Priority Pass, Delta Sky Club, and more. Select benefits require enrollment.
Check out The Platinum Card from American Express Review we got for you.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for Chase travel benefits
- Earning rate for authorized user: 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually; 3X points on other travel and dining & 1X points per dollar on all other purchases
- Annual fee for authorized user: $75 per authorized user
- Top authorized user benefits: Priority Pass, access to the Luxury Hotel Collection, travel and purchase coverages
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has been a premium travel option for frequent travelers since it was first introduced and is known for benefits like its annual travel credit. The annual fee has risen to $550 since that introduction, but you can add authorized users for $75 per user.
As an authorized user of the Sapphire Reserve, you receive a complimentary Priority Pass membership. This benefit alone more than covers the $75 annual fee if you’re able to use it. Other helpful benefits include receiving all of this card’s travel and purchase coverages, such as auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, purchase protection, return protection, and extended warranty protection.
Overall, the Sapphire Reserve makes a strong case for its authorized users. You may not receive as many premium benefits as the Amex Platinum, but for $75 each, your authorized users get Priority Pass and loads of travel and purchase protections.
Our Chase Sapphire Reserve Review has the info you need.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for travel and purchase coverage
- Earning rate for authorized user: 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and eligible online grocery purchases; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases
- Annual fee for authorized user: $0
- Top authorized user benefits: Travel and purchase coverages
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is similar to the Sapphire Reserve, but has fewer premium benefits and a much lower $95 annual fee. This lower fee translates well to authorized users on this card because their annual fee would be $0.
Authorized users won’t receive any premium travel benefits with this card, but they do get access to many of the same travel and purchase coverages you can find on the Sapphire Reserve. Along with the card’s earning potential and access to building credit, these coverages can prove valuable for having a $0 annual fee.
Learn more at our Chase Sapphire Preferred Review.
American Express® Gold Card: Best for restaurants
- Earning rate for authorized user: 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, after that 1X) and at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases
- Annual fee for authorized user: $0
- Top authorized user benefits: Bonus rewards at U.S. restaurants
The American Express Gold Card is known for offering bonus rewards on everyday expenses such as dining and groceries. The bonus rewards plus monthly dining credits make it one of the best credit cards for dining, though there’s typically a $250 annual fee.
For authorized users, you don’t receive any of the dining credits, but you’ll still get access to earning bonus rewards in the same categories as primary users. Because there’s no fee for adding authorized users, the Amex Gold could be a top option for people who frequently dine out and/or want to build their credit at the same time.
Get more details at our American Express Gold Card Review.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for groceries
- Earning rate for authorized user: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (for first $6,000 per year, after that 1%) and on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on eligible transit, and 1% cash back on other eligible purchases
- Annual fee for authorized user: $0
- Top authorized user benefits: Bonus rewards at U.S. supermarkets
The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express offers huge rewards in a few everyday categories, including U.S. supermarkets. This makes it an ideal choice as a daily-use card, though it has a $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 per year thereafter. However, using the card enough in its bonus categories should help offset the fee.
But for authorized users, you don’t have to worry about an annual fee. There’s no cost for adding authorized users to the Blue Cash Preferred, which could open up opportunities for earning rewards and building credit.
Check out our Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express Review for more details.
How to add an authorized user to your card
If you want to know how to add an authorized user to your credit card, the process is relatively simple. The exact steps might vary depending on the card issuer, but they should be similar.
The easiest way to add an authorized user is typically by logging into your card’s online account. Then there should be an option in your account’s settings to “Add an Authorized User” or something similar. If you have multiple credit cards in your account, you might have to first click on a specific card and then find the option to add an authorized user.
Some card issuers have different requirements for adding authorized users, whether it’s paying a fee or inputting certain information. In most cases, you’ll be asked to provide this information about any user you want to add:
- First and last name
- Phone number
- Date of birth
In some cases, you might also be asked to provide a Social Security number or street address. After providing this information, you should be notified whether the account opening is complete and the authorized user account has been added. If the process is successful, a card for the authorized user should be mailed out shortly.
We chose the listed credit cards based on a number of factors that contribute to overall value provided to authorized users. Some of the factors include available benefits, earning potential, authorized user fees (if any), and whether a card is different enough from another card on the list.
For example, there are a few travel-related cards with similar benefits, but each individual card could fit a certain situation better than any other card on the list. Many of the cards can be found on our list of the best rewards credit cards.
Can I build my credit by being an authorized user on a credit card?
Yes, it’s possible to build your credit as an authorized user on a credit card if you and the primary user are keeping your credit utilization low by keeping the card balance low. You should work to build an on-time payment history, and it could also help your credit if the credit card account has been open for a long time.
But you have to make sure the credit card you’re using reports authorized user activity to the credit bureaus, such as Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Otherwise, the activity might not show up on your credit report and your credit won’t improve.
Do authorized users pay an annual fee?
In some cases, authorized users do pay an annual fee. Fees for authorized users depend on the credit card and credit card issuer. Premium travel cards typically have fees for authorized users, whereas other cards might not. It’s often easy to know if a card will have annual fees for its authorized users by seeing if the card itself has a high annual fee.
How much will my credit score increase as an authorized user?
How much your credit score might increase due to being an authorized user depends on a few factors, including how old the credit card account is, whether the credit utilization is low, and if there are late payments. It also depends on your existing credit score. If you’re just starting out with a credit history, you’ll have more potential to see an increase in your score compared with someone who might already have good credit or excellent credit.
Authorized users can be one of the many benefits of having a credit card, and not only for the authorized user. Yes, the added user is likely to benefit the most — especially if the goal is to build the authorized user’s credit — but the primary user can also reap the rewards. If an authorized user is using their rewards card to make purchases, those rewards typically end up in your account as the primary account holder.
If you find that the cards listed here aren’t quite the right fit for your personal finance situation, there are more options available. Check out our dedicated page of cards to compare credit cards and find one that makes sense for you.
Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards
- Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
- Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
- Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
- No foreign transaction fees
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- Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
- 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
- Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
- Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
- 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee applies to all balance transfers.
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Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
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