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As a parent, you experience so many milestones with your kids. First crawl, first word, first steps, first day of kindergarten. It flies by frighteningly quickly. And now my oldest daughter is about to hit another milestone.
Next month, she’s turning 13 – officially a teenager, with all the drama and sass that comes with it. We’re heading to Dublin – just me and her – for a mom-daughter trip to celebrate her birthday. But guess what she’s really excited about?
Mom! I can get an American Express Card now!
Yep, she reads the blog and knows that 13 is the minimum age to add someone as an authorized user to an AMEX card. And she’s got it in her head that having an American Express card is the height of cool. I’m a Chase girl myself, but, um … sure, kiddo!
Here’s why I’m actually going to add her as an authorized user on one of my American Express cards when she hits the big 13.
Give Your Child’s Credit a Head Start by Adding Them as Authorized Users
My girls have been authorized users on my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for a couple of years now. I got them cards mostly to start building their credit history, so that when they turn 18 and can apply for their own cards, they wont be starting from a blank slate.
And Chase doesn’t have a minimum age to be an authorized user. Here’s a peek at the major banks’ requirements:
|Bank of America||None|
Their cards didn’t get a ton of use at first. But now they’re of the age where having a credit card actually comes in handy. Rather than send them with cash (cringe) for shopping trips to the mall or a walk down to the 7-Eleven for a snack with their pals, they bring their credit card instead.
And they’ve been trustworthy with it. I set limits on what they can spend, and they generally adhere to it. Although – we’re still arguing about whether sales tax factors into their maximum spending allowance (please tell me they’re not the only kids who try to pull this stunt).
Note: My 9-year-old son doesn’t have a card yet. I don’t quite trust him to NOT disappear into Hot Topic and return with armloads of tween boy paraphernalia. 😉
So, Why American Express?
This actually puzzles me greatly and might be an interesting study in how kids perceive certain brands. I definitely remember growing up in the 80s with the idea that American Express cards, especially “fancy” ones like The Platinum Card® from American Express, were somewhat of a status symbol. But I think that perception has faded in recent years.
So I’m not sure why my daughter thinks AMEX is the bomb. A lot of our family’s current spending goes onto cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (travel, dining), Chase Freedom (rotating bonus categories), or Citi ThankYou Premier (gas) for everyday purchases. Those cards are familiar, so maybe by default she thinks they’re just ordinary.
And she used to love the metal “thunk” sound the Chase Sapphire Preferred makes when you plop it on a counter. The novelty appears to have now worn off.
So come next month, I’ll be adding her to one of my American Express accounts, and not just for kicks.
In 5 Years She’ll Qualify for Her Own Credit Cards
I’m hoping having authorized user cards from several different banks will give my daughter’s credit score a boost. That way, when it comes time for her to apply for her first credit card when she turns 18, her credit file won’t be so “thin” and there’ll be a few years of credit history to show.
Being an authorized user won’t prevent her from opening the same cards and earning a bonus down the road. But I will back off on adding her as an authorized user a couple of years before she turns 18, because Chase usually counts authorized user cards towards your 5/24 status (some folks have had success having them ignore these, though). That will give her a chance to qualify for the best Chase cards when the time comes.
Opening an authorized user card from a different bank will also give her access to different bonus categories that aren’t covered by the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
And with an AMEX authorized user card, she’ll get access to AMEX Offers, which are discounts or bonus points you’ll get when you add an offer to your card and make a qualifying purchase. There are sometimes department stores and other mall-type retailers included on the list. So these might come in handy when she’s out shopping with her friends.
I’m actually considering opening a new cash back AMEX card and adding her to that instead, like the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. It earns bonus cash back at US supermarkets (3% cash back on up to $6,000 in spending per year, then 1%) and 2% back at US gas stations (Slurpees!) and select US department stores (more clothes!), which are categories where she’s likely to spend some money.
I’d let her keep the rewards from her spending. I think it’ll be a valuable and tangible lesson on the importance of using a rewards credit card for every purchase and not leaving money on the table. What teenager is going to argue with getting cash back?
My oldest girl will soon turn 13, and she’s excited because she’ll now be eligible for an authorized user card on my American Express accounts.
She’s got it in her head that American Express is the coolest bank. AMEX, if you’re listening, maybe you should consider that for your new tagline! 🙂
All kidding aside, I will be adding her as an AMEX authorized user in a few weeks. It’ll build her credit history and teach her more responsibility in using credit cards and earning rewards. I’m hopeful that having a mix of cards from different banks (she’s already got a Chase Sapphire Preferred authorized user card) will give her score a further boost.
Then, when she turns 18, she’ll have a much better chance at qualifying for the best travel cards for beginners. And start funding her own trips with miles, points, and cash back!
If you have kids, have you added them as authorized users? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.