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Amex Platinum Card: Authorized User or Your Own Card?

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Deciding whether to be an authorized user or to get your own Amex Platinum Card can be challenging. Here’s an expanded guide to help you make the best decision based on costs, benefits, and personal circumstances.

Overview of Amex Platinum Fees

  • Annual Fee: The Amex Platinum has an annual fee of $695 (see rates and fees).
  • Authorized User Fee: Each additional Platinum cardmember adds $195 annually.

It’s crucial to compare the costs between holding your own Amex Platinum versus being an authorized user. Calculating these expenses can help you determine which option is more financially viable.

When to Get Your Own Amex Platinum

There are several compelling reasons to consider getting your own Amex Platinum card rather than remaining an authorized user:

Welcome Offer

  • Primary Cardholders: New primary cardholders can earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 within the first six months. This bonus is valued at approximately $1,600.
  • Authorized Users: Do not receive their own welcome offer.

This welcome offer alone can significantly offset the annual fee in the first year, making it a crucial consideration for new applicants.

Exclusive Benefits

Primary cardholders also gain access to several exclusive benefits that can add up to substantial value over time:

  • Monthly Uber Cash: Primary cardholders can receive up to $15 in Uber Cash monthly (plus a $20 bonus in December), totaling $200 annually. This can be used for Uber rides and Uber Eats orders in the U.S.
  • Digital Entertainment Credit: Earn up to $20 monthly in statement credits for subscriptions to select digital entertainment providers, totaling $240 annually.
  • Clear Membership Credit: Receive up to $189 annually when you charge the cost of a Clear Plus membership to your Amex Platinum.
  • Hotel Credit: Enjoy up to $200 annually in statement credits for prepaid bookings through Fine Hotels + Resorts and The Hotel Collection.
  • Airline Fee Credit: Earn up to $200 annually in statement credits for incidental fees charged by an airline you designate.

When maximized, these benefits provide substantial value, potentially outweighing the authorized user fee.

When to Be an Authorized User

There are scenarios where being an authorized user might be more beneficial:

Age and Credit History

  • Under 18: For those under 18, being an authorized user is often the only option to gain access to a high-tier credit card like the Amex Platinum.
  • Building Credit: Recent high school graduates or individuals with limited credit history can benefit from starting as authorized users. This can help build their credit score over time, making it easier to qualify for their own card in the future.

Key Perks for Authorized Users

While authorized users do not get their own set of statement credits, they do receive several valuable perks:

  • Global Lounge Collection Access: Authorized users enjoy access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, including Amex Centurion Lounges.
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck Credit: Authorized users can take advantage of the statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees.
  • Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors Gold Status: Complimentary Gold status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors extends to authorized users.

If you prioritize lounge access and hotel elite status over additional credits, being an authorized user can be a cost-effective choice at $195 annually.

When Neither Option Makes Sense

For some individuals, neither being an authorized user nor getting their own Amex Platinum card may be beneficial:

  • No Welcome Offer Eligibility: Previous primary cardholders who are no longer eligible for a welcome offer may not find value in getting a new card.
  • Limited Usage: If you infrequently use lounges, hotel perks, and other benefits, the cost of the card may not justify the expense.

Evaluate the real-world value of the benefits you use annually. If they don’t exceed $195, it might be best to cancel the authorized user card.

Key Considerations

When deciding between being an authorized user or getting your own Amex Platinum card, consider the following:

  • Welcome Offer: Primary cardholders gain a significant bonus.
  • Monthly and Annual Credits: Evaluate how often you will use these.
  • Lounge Access and Elite Status: Authorized users receive valuable perks.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between being an authorized user and having your own Amex Platinum Card depends on your financial situation and how much you value the card’s benefits. Calculate your potential rewards and costs to make the most informed decision.

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