Jul 11, 2024

Financial products

Should I Add My Partner to My Amex Platinum Card? Pros and Cons Explained

Emily Luk

CPA, CFA - CEO and Cofounder of Plenty

For most couples, the endless back-and-forth of splitting expenses through Splitwise, spreadsheets, and Venmo can be tiresome. Graduating to sharing a credit card often feels like a breath of fresh air and reduces the monthly workload.


In this blog post, we'll explore:

  • The pros and cons of adding your partner to your credit card

  • How Amex Platinum’s authorized user and companion card work

  • Why you might not see shared spending

  • How credit scores work

  • A reminder of Amex Platinum benefits

  • What happens if both partners have an Amex Platinum card

  • Referral benefits for your partner

  • Deciding between Amex Platinum or Amex Gold



Options for Adding Your Partner to Your Amex Platinum Card


For American Express Platinum cardholders, you can add your partner (or a family member) in two ways:


1. Authorized User: Your partner gets an Amex Platinum card for $195.

2. Companion Card: Your partner gets an Amex Gold card for free (a $250 savings).



Pros and Cons of Adding Your Partner to Your Credit Card


Pros:

  • Focus on One Type of Rewards Points: This makes it easier and faster to reach point bonuses or the required points to redeem for flights or hotel rewards.

  • Share Credit Card Benefits: Whether issuing a Platinum or Gold card, your partner will enjoy the benefits of either card.

  • Save on Annual Fees: If both partners use the Amex Platinum, you can save up to $500 annually.


Cons:

  • Limited Spending Visibility for Additional Cardholders: Amex makes it difficult for additional cardholders to see shared spending. Plenty solves this by enabling easy connection and shared visibility.

  • Indirect Credit History Building: Your partner’s credit history may not build as directly.

  • Primary Cardholder Responsibility: You are responsible for paying off the card, impacting your credit score even if the additional cardholder doesn't pay you back.



How Amex Platinum’s Authorized User Works


When you add your partner as an authorized user, you can log into your account online and add them for a $195 fee. The new card is under your account, and your partner receives an Amex Platinum card with their name on it.


Benefits:

  • Lounge Access: Frequent travelers save $50 per lounge visit if the guest doesn’t have their own Amex Platinum card. Four visits justify the $195 fee.

  • Faster Points Accumulation: Amex points are highly valuable due to their redemption and conversion programs with hotels and airlines. With the Amex Platinum card, you get 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express and 5x points on hotels booked through Amex. All other purchases earn 1x points.

  • Cost Savings: If both partners use the Amex Platinum, you can save up to $500 on the annual fee.

  • Credit History Improvement: The primary cardholder's credit history could benefit the additional cardholder.



How Amex Platinum’s Gold Companion Card Works


In the same place where you add your partner as an authorized user, you can choose to issue them a Gold companion card instead of an Amex Platinum card.


Benefits:

  • Annual Fee Savings: Saves $250 compared to applying directly for the Gold card.

  • Optimized Points Earning: The Amex Gold offers 4x points on restaurants (including delivery) and groceries, and 3x points on flights and travel. Use the Amex Gold for dining and groceries, and the Amex Platinum for travel.

  • Credit History Improvement: The primary cardholder's credit history could help the additional cardholder.



Why Can I Not See Our Spending?


Amex has a limited experience for shared visibility. The authorized user setup was designed in a dated era where the primary income earner managed the credit card.


When you add your partner as an authorized user or with a companion card, they cannot see the shared spending. They will only see the spending on their issued card, while you can see spending across both cards.


Solution: Plenty offers a solution by connecting your Amex account and labeling it as “shared,” providing both partners with equal visibility over shared spending.



How Do Credit Scores Work?


Whether you add your partner as an authorized user or on an Amex Gold companion card, the credit score impact is similar.

  • Primary Cardholder Responsibility: Your credit score remains primary on the account. You are responsible for paying off the card, and any missed payments will impact your credit history more than your partner’s.

  • Credit History Building: Adding your partner can help build their credit history if the primary cardholder maintains good credit habits. However, if the primary cardholder stops paying, Amex may stop reporting to protect the partner's credit history.


Tip: Your partner should maintain some cards independently to ensure their credit score stays healthy, especially if they have cards with long, good credit histories.



What If We Both Have an Amex Platinum Card?

If both partners have an Amex Platinum card, you can save $500 by adding one partner as an authorized user. However, this means sharing one set of benefits instead of doubling up.

Advice: Instead of canceling the Amex card, downgrade it to a no-annual-fee Blue Cash Rewards card to maintain the credit age on that card.



Remind Me, What Are the Amex Platinum Benefits Again?

  • $200 Uber Cash: $15 monthly ($20 in December).

  • $240 Digital Entertainment: $20 monthly.

  • $200 Hotel Credit: For Fine Hotel + Resorts or the Hotel Collection.

  • $200 Airline Credit: For baggage fees, Wi-Fi, or food/beverages on one airline.

  • $100 Saks Credit: $50 twice a year.

  • $189 Clear Plus Credit

  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Monthly membership covered.

  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck: Membership fee covered every ~4 years.



What If I Refer My Partner?

Referring your partner means they’ll pay the annual fee themselves for either the Amex Gold ($250) or Amex Platinum ($695). Amex Platinum currently offers a promotion where your partner can earn 80k points, and you’d earn 30k points for referring them. This makes sense if you want to double up on Amex Platinum benefits.



How to Decide Between Amex Platinum or Amex Gold?

For every couple, the decision depends on different factors. Key questions to consider:

  • Amex Lounge Access: Will you use it 4+ times a year? If yes, choose the authorized user/Amex Platinum.

  • Restaurant/Grocery Rewards: Do you need a card with good restaurant/grocery rewards? If no, choose the companion card/Amex Gold.

  • Maximizing Amex Platinum Perks: Can you use 2x the Amex Platinum perks to justify a $1,400 combined annual fee? If yes, refer your partner to the Amex Platinum.




Sources:

https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/support/additional-card-member/faqs/

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/authorized-user-credit-score

https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/credit-cards/credit-intel/platinum-fee/#:~:text=For%20Platinum%20Card%20Members%20who,as%20an%20Additional%20Card%20Member.

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/credit-cards/amex-platinum-authorized-user/#:~:text=If%20what%20you're%20looking%20for%20instead%20is,a%20no%20fee%20Companion%20Platinum%20card%20instead.

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/travel/amex-platinum-add-authorized-user

https://www.bankrate.com/credit-cards/reviews/amex-platinum-authorized-user-benefits/

https://upgradedpoints.com/credit-cards/reviews/american-express-platinum-card/adding-authorized-users/

AUTHOR

Emily Luk

CPA, CFA - CEO and Cofounder of Plenty

Emily is the ceo and cofounder of Plenty. Started by a husband and wife team, Plenty is a wealth platform built for modern couples to invest and plan towards their future, together. Previously, she was VP of Strategy and Operations at Even (acquired by Walmart/One) and a founding team member of Stripe's Growth and Finance & Strategy teams. She began her career as a VC, and was one of the youngest nationally to complete her CPA, CA and CFA designations.

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