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You and your partner probably share a lot of financial responsibilities. Maybe you have a joint mortgage, for example — or, maybe the two of you are paying rent on a shared apartment. You and your partner may also be working together to cover the costs of groceries, childcare or car payments, not to mention the everyday expenses that come up when you share a life with someone you love.
Should you and your partner share a line of credit? While few credit cards allow joint cardholders, many credit issuers allow you to add your partner as an authorized user on your credit card. That way, your partner can use your line of credit to make purchases — and, in some cases, use your credit history to build their credit score.
Here are some of the pros and cons of being an authorized user, as well as a couple of the best authorized user credit cards to consider.
What are the benefits of adding your partner as an authorized user?
Adding your partner as an authorized user on your credit card allows you and your partner to share a line of credit, but those aren’t the only benefits that come with an authorized user relationship.
Building good credit
One of the biggest benefits of being an authorized user is the opportunity to build credit quickly. When you add your partner to a credit card that reports authorized users to the major credit bureaus, all of your positive credit activity — on-time payments, balance management and so on — becomes part of your partner’s credit history as well.
Building good credit is so important that many parents add their children as authorized users on their accounts, just to give their kids a head start. If your partner’s credit could use a boost, adding them as an authorized user could be one of the best ways to help them earn a good credit score.
Once your partner is an authorized user on your credit card, their purchases can earn credit card rewards — and you can use those rewards to pay off statement balances, book flights, cover travel expenses and more.
Sharing a line of credit with your partner also helps you maximize your credit card rewards. If every household purchase goes on a top travel credit card, for example, the two of you can work together to earn enough points to cover the cost of your next trip.
Balancing the budget
Adding your partner as an authorized user on your credit card also helps you keep your household budget balanced. When all of your grocery spending goes on the same card, for example, it becomes easier to determine how much you’ve spent on groceries that month (and whether you can afford an evening at your favorite restaurant).
What are the disadvantages?
While there are many benefits to adding your partner as an authorized user on your credit card, there are also two big disadvantages that you should be aware of.
Full financial responsibility
As the primary cardholder, you have full financial responsibility for all charges made on the credit card. This means that if your partner spends more than you can afford to pay off, you’ll be the one responsible for the credit card debt.
Some credit cards allow you to set authorized user spending limits, which can help prevent your partner from accidentally maxing out your credit card. Either way, it’s important to be aware of what your partner is purchasing and to have a plan if they overspend.
Potential to damage credit score
When you and your partner share a line of credit, you both have the potential to damage each other’s credit score. If you make a late payment, for example, your partner’s credit could suffer. Some credit issuers solve this problem by only reporting positive credit activity on an authorized user account. That way, a negative action on your part won’t hurt your partner — but it won’t help them build their credit, either.
Your partner also has the potential to damage your credit. Whether they max out your credit card or simply make a purchase you can’t afford to pay off, your partner could increase your credit utilization ratio and lower your credit score.
Credit cards that offer benefits for authorized users
While authorized users can benefit from nearly any credit card, a small number of cards offer specific benefits just for authorized users. Here are two of our top picks:
The Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the most valuable travel credit cards on the market. This premium credit card comes with a $695 annual fee, and authorized users can be added at $175 per year for the first three users, with an additional $175 for each additional user. Authorized users can access Amex’s Global Lounge Collection with or without the primary cardholder and automatically receive elite status with Hilton, Marriott and select rental car companies. These authorized users can also take advantage of their own Global Entry and TSA PreCheck statement credits, although all other travel credits associated with the card will be shared across all users.
More details can be found in our Amex Platinum authorized user benefits guide.
Capital One Venture X
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is a premium travel credit card with a slightly lower annual fee than its competitors ($395) and the ability to add authorized users for free. Once added, users have the ability to access Capital One Lounges with or without the primary cardholder. They also receive complimentary Hertz President’s Circle elite status, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, primary rental car insurance and other forms of purchase protection.
For more information, read through our guide to Capital One Venture X authorized user perks.
The bottom line
Adding your partner as an authorized user on your credit card can help them build credit, and sharing a line of credit can help you both balance the household budget. As long as you both use your shared credit card responsibly, you’ll be able to take advantage of all the benefits that come with having an authorized user on a card — without having to worry about any of the drawbacks that come with missed payments or overspending.