5 Credit Cards That Grant Additional Cardholders Free Airport Lounge Access (and More)

With these premium credit cards, authorized users receive the same snazzy travel benefits as the primary cardholder.

5 Credit Cards That Grant Additional Cardholders Free Airport Lounge Access (and More)

Both personal and business Amex Platinum cards give additional cardholders access to 40+ Centurion Lounges at airports around the world.

Courtesy of American Express

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There’s both risk and reward in adding authorized users (aka extra cardholders) to your primary credit card account. The risk: putting your credit line in the hands of another. The reward: lots more points for you, the primary cardholder and, in some cases, travel benefits aplenty for both you and your additional cardholders.

Truth is that if you’re a couple or family who shares finances or an employer who trusts their employees, having one primary account with multiple authorized users can be a smart and cost-effective credit card choice. You’ll reign master of the points balance, and your crew scores the best travel perks without each person having to pay an annual fee upwards of $500. Everyone wins!

Here, the basics of adding authorized users and five credit cards that offer the same benefits for additional cardholders.

The basics of having authorized users

When you apply for a credit card in your name, you are the primary cardmember and account holder. Under the line of credit obtained, you can add authorized users or extra cardholders to your primary account. But all charges and payments ultimately remain your financial responsibility, if your authorized users don’t cough up the money by the due date. Beyond the financial liability of charges made, it is also the primary cardholder’s credit score that will be impacted by on-time (or late) and complete (or incomplete) payments across all accounts. Meanwhile, the additional cardholders’ credit may also be impacted by the health of the overall credit card account because the account does appear on each secondary members’ credit report. In terms of earning points and miles, the primary cardholder banks all points and miles earned from his or her own purchases, plus those of authorized users.

Married couples, parents with kids, and employers often partake in this model of primary account plus authorized users, especially now that credit card companies have made it easy to control spending limits on sub-accounts directly from their apps or websites. It’s also enticing that the annual fees for additional cardholders are far lower than those of the primary cardmember.

Five cards with great authorized user benefits

Few credit cards impress when it comes to authorized user benefits, but here are five exceptions:

Arguably the best benefit bestowed upon authorized users of all these cards is airport lounge access independent of the primary cardholder, with the ability to bring up to two guests. The type of lounge membership and access varies by credit card. In addition, any implicit travel insurance and shopping protection of a credit card (e.g., trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay protection, and/or extended warranty coverage—depending on the card) applies to purchases made by authorized users.

Outshining its peers, the personal and business Amex Platinum cards go as far as extending Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credits to each authorized user while the others limit the credit to one per overall account. The Platinum cards also grant complimentary gold status in Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy to authorized users.

Additional cardholder details

Below are the fees and key benefits for authorized users/additional cardholders of our fab five.

The Platinum Card® from American Express
Additional cardholder fee: $175 total for up to first three users, which amounts to less than $60 each

Airport lounge access: Access to 40+ Centurion Lounges and Escape Lounges-the Centurion Studio Partner, for users plus two guests. Access to Delta Sky Club airline lounges for users. Each also gets a Priority Pass membership, allowing access to 1,300+ lounges around the world with two guests. This membership does not include credits at Priority Pass restaurants.

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credits: Yes, up to $100 per user every four years.

Other user benefits: Gold status in Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy

Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
Additional cardholder fee: $0 each, up to 10 users

Airport lounge access: Each user receives access privileges to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges with two guests.

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credits: None

Capital One Venture X
Additional cardholder fee: $0 each, up to four users

Airport lounge access: Access to Capital One lounges with two guests. Each user also gets a Priority Pass membership, allowing access to 1,300+ lounges worldwide with two guests. This membership includes credits at Priority Pass restaurants.

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credits: None

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Additional cardholder fee: $300 each

Airport lounge access: Access to 40+ Centurion Lounges and Escape Lounges-the Centurion Studio Partner for users plus two guests. Access to Delta Sky Club airline lounges for users. Each also gets a Priority Pass membership, allowing access to 1,300+ lounges around the world with two guests. This membership does not include credits at Priority Pass restaurants.

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credits: Yes, up to $100 per user every four years.

Other user benefits: Gold status in Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Additional cardholder fee: $75 each

Airport lounge access: Each gets a Priority Pass membership, allowing access to 1,300+ lounges worldwide with two guests. This membership includes credits at Priority Pass restaurants.

Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credits: None

Analysis and takeaways

Airport lounge access typically costs a pretty penny, but some premium credit cards are practically giving it away to additional cardholders. The equivalent of a credit card’s Priority Pass Select membership is $429 annually while Admirals Club membership is $650 yearly. Access to American Express’s lounge portfolio (Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, and Priority Pass membership) is worth even more.

Given the extensive lounge access, the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credits, and elite status boosts–all for a total of $175 for three users–we think the Platinum Card from American Express is the best credit card card for additional cardholders. Coming in second is the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard thanks to its exceptional policy of allowing up to 10 additional cardholders at no cost but granting each Admirals Club access (with two guests, no less). Third is Capital One Venture X, which we like for giving Priority Pass membership to its extra cardholders without any fees whatsoever. Next is the Business Platinum Card from American Express, which carries the same travel perks as the personal card but a $300 per cardholder fee (versus about $60). Rounding out the five is Chase Sapphire Reserve, which grants the same lounge perk as the Capital One Venture X but at $75 per user (versus $0).

Suffice to say, for the family, close friends, or work team that travels—and sometimes does so separately—it makes financial sense for everyone to come together for card membership. Appoint a primary account holder and decide on additional cardholders to maximize snazzy travel benefits at minimum cost.

While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.

Paul Rubio is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer. His byline appears in AFAR, Conde Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, LUXURY, MSN, NerdWallet, Palm Beach Illustrated, Yahoo Lifestyle and more. He has visited 133 countries (and counting) over the past 20 years and won 27 national awards for his writing and photography. When he’s not plotting out his next trip, Paul loves to spend time at home watching reruns of Portlandia and Parks and Recreation with his husband and rescue dog, Camo.