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INSIDER SECRET: Beyond the benefits of being an authorized user, young people can get a boost toward long-term credit by having a card they learn to use like the experts.
When I was in high school, I was probably the only one in my class with a metal card in my wallet and the only one who could “guest” her friends into the Centurion Lounge at Miami Airport, thanks to my dad who made me an authorized user on his card. Most importantly, I was probably the only one establishing a credit score.
Now, I’m 20 years old and lots of my friends can’t get approved for cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, a perfect card for credit beginners that I hold close to my heart (and in my hand when I’m spending on travel and dining). I got the Chase card on my own, in part because of the credit score I had earned as an authorized user on my dad’s The Platinum Card® From American Express. A record of spending and paying as an authorized user isn’t the only variable in the equation for a great credit score at a young age, but it certainly can help.
Being added as an authorized user on a credit card is a great way to dip your toes into the world of credit before the stakes are high. And there is the potential for some amazing perks. Here’s what I gained in perks and learned from experience as an authorized user on my dad’s credit card.
Advantages of Being an Authorized User
Benefits, Benefits, Benefits
As an authorized user on my dad’s card, I get access to the Centurion Lounges, status with major travel companies and a credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
As authorized users on the Amex Platinum Card, between my mom, sister and myself, we get a ton of value. Just think: Global Entry alone is worth $100 for each of us. Plus, we probably save hundreds collectively on food at airports by eating at Centurion Lounges and Priority Pass lounges.
Unintimidating Experience With Credit
Points and miles junkies know that it’s next to useless to pay with cash or debit when a credit card is an option. If you’re not earning when you spend, you’re losing more than the withdrawal from your checking account.
Credit cards are often painted as dangerous and intimidating, so it’s important to know that there’s a right way to use them.
Never overspending and learning to pay bills on time and in full every month are fundamental principles that future card holders should know. Starting young is a great way to form good habits that will benefit your credit score in the future.
Earn Points — Or Separate Your Expenses
If you can’t get approved for a high annual fee card or maybe you just can’t justify the price, becoming an authorized user on a credit card can let you earn more points with higher valuations than you would with other cards.
For example, as an authorized user on my dad’s Amex Platinum Card, I could earn 5x Membership Rewards points on flights (booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel). However, I use this card almost solely for expenses that my parents want to take care of for me. It makes it easy — no need to transfer or Venmo. My dad gets the points that accumulate under my card.
Even though I rarely charge anything to this card, I still get so much from benefits like Global Entry and lounge access.
Build Your Credit Score
One of the biggest reasons for becoming an authorized user on a credit card when you’re young is building your credit score. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start — how can you build credit when you don’t have any credit to start you off? Here’s a solution to that riddle.
Think about pairing a card on which you’re an authorized user with a card that carries no annual fee or provides cash back. Establish your credit, and you’ll soon be on your way to being approved for many of the best credit cards for travel of your own. You’ve earned it.
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