Are Authorized Users Eligible For Credit Card Bonuses?

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Here’s a question I get on an almost daily basis, though it has occurred to me that I’ve never written a post about it before. If you’re an authorized user on someone else’s credit card, are you eligible for the bonus on that card if you apply outright?

Authorized users are eligible for credit card bonuses

Credit cards frequently offer huge upfront welcome offers, whereby you can earn a lot of bonus points for spending a certain amount within a limited timeframe. While there are different credit card application rules for each bank, there are generally restrictions whereby an existing cardmember can’t apply for a card they already have and receive a bonus.

How does that work in the context of authorized users? If you’re the authorized user on someone else’s credit card, can you apply for the card as the primary cardmember and earn the bonus? The answer is universally yes — being an authorized user on someone else’s credit card doesn’t preclude you from applying for that card yourself, and earning the bonus.

When welcome bonus rules talk about existing cardmembers, they’re specifically talking about primary cardmembers, and not authorized users.

You don’t even need to cancel your authorized user card to be able to do this. For example, say you’re an authorized user on your spouse’s Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review). You could remain an authorized user, and still apply outright and earn the welcome bonus on the card.

Many cards offer amazing welcome bonuses

Should you be an authorized user or apply outright?

For those in relationships, it can sometimes be difficult to decide under which circumstances it makes sense to apply for a card outright, rather than being an authorized user on a spouse’s card (and vice versa). There are pros and cons to each.

The advantage of adding someone as an authorized user is that it minimizes annual fees, since many cards have lower (or no) annual fees for authorized users vs. the primary cardmembers. Meanwhile the advantages of having both people in a relationship apply for a card outright is that many cards have big welcome bonuses, and on top of that some cards pay for themselves.

Just to give a couple of examples:

For more on this topic, see my post on the best credit card strategy for families.

Some cards have amazing perks for authorized users

Bottom line

Many credit cards have amazing welcome bonuses, though you’re generally only eligible for them if you don’t already have that card. The good news is that across the board, being an authorized user on someone else’s card still makes you eligible to apply for that card outright and receive the bonus (assuming you’re otherwise eligible for the card).

Therefor this really comes down to deciding for each card whether the economics of applying outright make sense.

Have you ever applied for a credit card on which you’re already an authorized user?

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