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The 4 Best Credit Cards for Sharing Travel Perks with Authorized Users

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The best travel credit cards might cost you a pretty penny in annual fees, but that typically comes with some amazing benefits like airport lounge access, instant hotel elite status, annual travel credits, and much more. What makes those high annual fees even easier to swallow is being able to share the love with friends and family by adding them as an authorized user to your credit card account.

It's not an option with every travel card, and there are some potential pitfalls to be aware of, but adding a friend or family member is a great way to pass on some of your card's best benefits … regardless of whether or not they're traveling with you.

Here are some of the best credit cards for sharing travel perks with a loved one.


What is a Credit Card Authorized User?

Authorized users occupy a quirky and sometimes confusing space in the world of credit cards. An authorized user is essentially somebody that you allow to make purchases on your credit card account … with their own physical credit card.

It can be a great way to work toward the minimum spending requirement on a big welcome offer points bonus. It's also a good option for spouses, families, or employees – especially if you want to share some sweet travel benefits.

Being an authorized user on somebody else's card will also help you to build your own credit history. Assuming all payments are made on time and in full, it will have a positive impact on the authorized user's credit score. That's why adding a child with little to no credit history or somebody with bad credit who can't get approved for their own card might be a good option to help them build or rebuild their score.

Read more: What’s the Minimum Age Requirement for Adding a Credit Card Authorized User?

But be warned. Any charges made by the authorized user will ultimately be the responsibility of the primary cardholder. That means if there are charges made by the authorized user that you can't pay, both the primary cardholder and the authorized user will take a hit to their credit score. Make sure to pick your authorized users wisely as they ultimately become an extension of your card's spending power.

Beyond that, it’s a good news, bad news situation:

  • Being an authorized user does not make you ineligible to open that card outright to earn a bonus later. That means you could add a friend or spouse as an authorized user to your card, and they could still open that same card on their own later on and earn a welcome bonus.
  • This could make it harder for your buddy to open a Chase card down the road. That’s because being an authorized user does count toward your Chase 5/24 rule status, which means you won’t get approved for any Chase card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards (from any bank, not just Chase) in the last 24 months. You may be able to get Chase to overlook that if being an authorized user is what’s pushing you over the edge, but that’s not a sure thing.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Credit Card Authorized Users


Do Authorized Users Get Credit Card Benefits?

Just because you're an authorized user able to charge purchases to somebody else's credit card account doesn't mean you'll get all the card's benefits to go with it. Take a co-branded airline card like the *delta skymiles gold card*, for example. 

This card is a mainstay in many travelers' wallets because you get a first checked bag free on every Delta flight, plus priority boarding. So long as you book the ticket, up to eight other passengers flying with you will get those same benefits – including an authorized user.


delta amex gold card


But what if the authorized user is flying without the primary cardholder? Unfortunately, the card's benefits do not extend to the authorized user. They won't get a free checked bag or priority boarding. That's because, in the case of the Delta Gold SkyMiles card, the benefits are tied to the primary cardholder's Delta SkyMiles account number.

So let's focus on the travel credit cards that do pass along travel perks.


The Best Credit Cards for Authorized User Benefits

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

We consider the *venture x* the best credit card for traveling families. And that's thanks in part to how it handles authorized users.

Beyond the lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit, and other amazing benefits, the bank also allows you to add up to four authorized users to your card account … at no additional cost! Free authorized users are typically only an option on travel cards with few benefits and lower annual fees. And the Venture X itself is relatively cheap for the primary cardholder to begin with, with an annual fee of just $395.

Here's why free authorized users matter: You can share some great benefits. And one of the best benefits of holding the Capital One Venture X Card is airport lounge access.


capital one venture x card


To start, you and your authorized users will get access to Capital One Lounges at Dallas-Forth Worth (DFW), Denver (DEN), and Washington D.C.–Dulles (IAD) for yourself and up to two guests on each visit. If you ask us, these are some of the nicest airport lounges in the U.S.

On top of that, Venture X cardholders and authorized users will also get a complimentary Priority Pass membership which grants access to over 1,200 lounges worldwide … as well as Plaza Premium lounge access.

With the Capital One Venture X card, even though authorized users are free, they also get their own lounge membership with the ability to bring up to two guests with them on each and every visit. That's unheard of.

While the card's two biggest competitors – *chase sapphire reserve* and *amex platinum* – also provide lounge access for authorized users, both cards charge substantial fees to add additional users to your account. That's what makes Venture X stand out.

Read next: How to Get Airport Lounge Access for the Whole Family With 1 Credit Card 

In addition to lounge access, Capital One Venture X authorized users will also get the following perks:

  • Any car rentals charged to an authorized user's card qualify for the same great primary rental car coverage, which covers most damages and makes any add-on insurance policies useless.
  • Ditto for other travel insurance like lost baggage reimbursement, travel delay coverage, and trip cancellation or interruption insurance.

As good as the Venture X's authorized user benefits are, it doesn't mean there aren't a few notable exceptions. While the card provides up to a $100 credit to cover Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment fees, only one credit is available per account. That means if the primary cardholder uses that credit, it won't be available for the authorized user and vice versa. The authorized user won't get their own $300 annual travel credit either – there's only one of those credits per account, too.

Read our master guide to Capital One Venture X authorized users!


*venture x*


Learn more about the *venture x*.


The Platinum Card® from American Express

*amex platinum* is another great credit card option with benefits for authorized users – but it doesn't come cheap. The Platinum card has an annual fee of $695 (see rates & fees).

Want to add an authorized user to share some of the card's benefits? After a recent hike, it will now cost you another $195 out of pocket per additional card, each year…ouch.


amex platinum card


From unrivaled lounge access to a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, the American Express Platinum card has the richest set of travel perks on the market. And by adding an Amex Platinum authorized user, your travel companion gets access to many (but not all) of them.

For example, your new authorized user won't get access to some of the big-dollar credits that come with the card, like the CLEAR Plus credit or credits that cover select entertainment platforms or Equinox Gym memberships.

But there's more than enough value here to offset the additional fee for many travelers. Here's a brief rundown of what Amex Platinum Card authorized users will get:

  • American Express Centurion Lounge Access: Yes
  • Priority Pass Select Lounge Membership: Yes
  • Delta SkyClub Access (When Flying Delta): Yes
  • Up to $100 Credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry: Yes
  • Up to $189 Credit for CLEAR: No
  • Earn 5x Points on Airfare Booked Directly with Airlines and Hotels Booked Through Amextravel.com: Yes
  • Up to $200 in Annual Airline Fee Credits: No
  • Up to $200 in Credits for Hotels Booked Through Amex Travel: No
  • Up to $200 in Annual Uber Ride Credits: No
  • Up to $100 in Annual Saks 5th Ave. Credits: No
  • Up to $300 in Equinox Gym Credits: No
  • Up to $200 in Entertainment Credits: No
  • Instant Hotel Status with Marriott and Hilton: Yes
  • Get access to Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts: Yes
  • Instant Rental Car Agency Status with Hertz, Avis, and National: Yes

As you can see, your authorized users won't get their own credits for airlines, Uber, or Saks Fifth Ave, among others. In pure dollar value, those are some of the biggest perks the card offers. They immediately take the sting out of the card's $695 annual fee for primary cardholders. Go figure that you can't double (or triple or quadruple) down on those.

But each of your Amex Platinum authorized users will get their own $100 credit to cover a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. These are some of the best services to improve your time at the airport, so don't be afraid to spread the love. Just have your authorized users use their new American Express Platinum card to pay for the application and voila – it's free.

The benefits of lounge access for authorized users are arguably even better.

You can get into the Delta Sky Club by flashing your Delta boarding pass and Amex Platinum card, but a guest normally costs $50. That problem is solved with authorized users, who can get into the Sky Club for free with their own card … at least for now. Delta is making big changes to Sky Club access next year, limiting Amex Platinum cardholders to just 10 visits a year unless you're willing to spend $75,000 or more on your Platinum Card. Thankfully, authorized users will get their own allotment of 10 visits once this change goes into effect.

But the lounge access goes much farther. Your authorized users can also enroll in their own Priority Pass membership, the massive network of 1,200-plus lounges worldwide. Authorized users can also get into the growing collection of top-notch American Express Centurion Lounges on their own, too. Considering Amex cut free guest access to Centurion Lounges in early 2023, adding your spouse or best travel buddy as an authorized user is an elegant workaround to let them tag along with you for free to the excellent JFK Centurion Lounge and more than a dozen others.

Don't want to pay $195 to add authorized users? You can add a Companion Platinum Card authorized user to your Platinum Card account at no additional cost. But aside from a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, these users don't get any other travel benefits.

Read more: Why You Should Add an Authorized User to Your Amex Platinum Card


*amex platinum*


Learn more about *amex platinum*.


The Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The *chase sapphire reserve* is Chase's top-tier travel credit card with an annual fee that clocks in at $550 a year. Cardholders get benefits like a $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass lounge access, and some of the best travel insurance you'll find from any credit card, period.

Adding an authorized user to the Sapphire Reserve will cost $75 each year for each additional user you add – but if your buddy often travels without you, that fee can easily be worth it.


chase sapphire reserve card


While Sapphire Reserve authorized users won't get as much as authorized users on the Venture X and Amex Platinum cards, they will get a few worthwhile perks including:

  • Their own Priority Pass lounge membership (including Priority Pass Restaurants) with the ability to bring two of their own guests at no additional cost
  • Access to Chase Sapphire Lounges for themselves and two of their own guests, free of charge
  • 12 months of their own DoorDash DashPass membership for free food delivery on orders starting at $12
  • Access to all of the travel insurance protections provided by the card – regardless of whether they are traveling with the primary cardholder


*chase sapphire reserve*


Learn more about the *chase sapphire reserve*.


The Ritz-Carlton Card

The Ritz-Carlton Card isn't talked about much these days, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth the discussion. The card comes with a $450 annual fee and is packed with many of the same benefits as the top ultra-premium travel rewards cards at a fraction of the price. And when it comes to adding authorized users … it won't cost you another dime.


Ritz Carlton Credit Card


You can think of the Ritz Card as a souped-up version of the top-tier *bonvoy brilliant* – but even that's underselling it. For starters, the Ritz-Carlton Card comes with an annual 85,000-point free night certificate. This certificate, combined with the ability to top off awards with an additional 15,000 points, means that you'll get a “free night” each year at properties charging up to 100,000 points per night.

But that's just the start: Cardholders and their authorized users will also get access to Priority Pass lounges, including access to Priority Pass restaurants, unlike the Priority Pass memberships that come with cards from American Express and Capital One. Only a handful of other cards still offer access to Priority Pass restaurants and the Ritz Card is one of them. While getting a $28 per person restaurant credit might not seem all that exciting, in many airports (especially in the U.S.), having access to these restaurants is a far greater benefit than what you'd get with a true lounge.

But perhaps what makes the Ritz-Carlton Priority Pass better than any other is that you can bring in unlimited guests. And this benefit even applies to the card's authorized users which…did I mention, are free to add? This is in stark contrast to the Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum which charge $75 to $175 more each year for adding an authorized user. Even the best card for family lounge access – the *capital one venture x* – limits free authorized users to four. This easily tops that, and then some!

Finally, the Ritz Carlton Card is also your ticket to get into the growing list of Chase Sapphire Lounges. Capital One raised the standard for bank-branded airport lounges with the debut of its Dallas lounge back in 2021 … and now it's Chase's turn. So far the bank has announced a list of 10 lounges, plus a space in Austin (AUS) that it's dubbed the Chase Sapphire Terrace, with locations in Boston (BOS), Hong Kong (HKG), New York-LaGuardia (LGA), and New York City (JFK) open so far. While the footprint is still quite small, these lounges are easily some of the nicest in the country and a great perk for Ritz Cardholders and their authorized users.

Read more: How to Get the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card (& Why You Should!)


Ritz Carlton Card


The Ritz-Carlton Card is no longer open to new applicants but can still be attained through a product change.


Bottom Line

Credit card authorized user benefits are not created equally.

While all the cards on this list have annual fees on the higher end of the spectrum, passing on benefits to your authorized users can certainly help justify that cost. It's just one of the many reasons we encourage readers to do the math before ruling out credit cards with a high annual fee.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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