Free Additional Cardholder Credit Cards
As the primary cardholder on your credit card account, you can choose whether you want to add additional cardholders. Doing this will mean you remain in charge of the account, but your additional cardholders will have their own card to use.
Providing shared access to credit, this could perhaps provide one of your eligible kids a card for emergencies, or alternatively, it could allow your partner to have their own card for day-to-day use. What is worth noting here is that all additional cardholder spending will be added to your account balance, and as primary cardholder, you are legally responsible for paying it off.
So, what can additional cardholders do aside from spend on their card? While each card provider has different rules regarding this, most allow additional cardholders to set and change their own PIN (which is different to yours), order a replacement card, make payments towards the account balance, check their balance and account history, and cancel their card.
Additional cardholders may also benefit from some of the perks provided to the primary cardholder. This could allow them to earn rewards (with points added directly to the primary cardholder’s rewards balance), and to enjoy certain perks, such as lounge access and insurance cover (although this will depend on the card provider).
Benefits of Adding An Additional Cardholder
You can simplify your family finances: Instead of each member of your family having their own credit card account, you have one primary account that provides shared access to all who need it. With just one card account, you only have one repayment date to remember, one balance to keep track of, and one interest rate to be aware of.
You can share access with someone with poor credit: If someone in your family has poor credit and would be unable to get approved for a credit card of their own, you could allow them to use their own card on your account. Be aware that this won’t allow them to build their credit, and of course, you remain liable for their spending.
You can educate your kids about credit: With their own credit card, your eligible kids can learn how credit cards work – and under your guidance, learn how to deal with credit responsibly. That doesn’t mean letting them have unrestricted access to spend as they want. Instead, you can involve them in the process of managing your balance, tracking spending, and budgeting month-to-month.
You can earn more rewards: If you have a rewards card, your additional cardholders could help you earn more points faster. With their everyday spending, points will stack up faster, allowing you to get more value from your rewards program.
You can get more value from your card: While this will depend on the type of card you have, your additional cardholders may be able to enjoy the same perks as you. This could provide them travel insurance on travel purchased using their card, or even access to airport lounges and hotel membership.
Provide Access to Credit
If you know someone who would benefit from having access to credit – but who cannot get a credit card in their own name – creating an additional cardholder account for them could be a good solution.
As long as you trust them to do the right thing, you can provide them with their own credit card, even if they are too young or their credit score is too low to get approved on their own.
Drawbacks of Adding An Additional Cardholder
You could exceed your credit limit: If you don’t manage your account properly, you could find yourself paying out fees for exceeding your credit limit. With multiple users on one account, it becomes even more important to track spending so you don’t spend more than you can afford, or go over your credit limit.
You are liable for additional cardholder spending: As the primary cardholder, you are responsible for all spending on the account. That means, even if your additional cardholder overspends, you are responsible for paying back that debt, and any fees involved.
Your credit may be negatively affected: Whether your additional cardholders are responsible with credit or irresponsible, it is your credit that will be affected. Going over your limit, making a late payment, spending more than you can afford to pay back. This could all affect your credit score.
You could reach your points cap faster: If your card places a points cap on your earn, you may find that you reach that cap faster with additional cardholders on your account. You can, however, avoid this happening by choosing a card with a higher points cap, or no points cap at all.
- What is points capping? Some cards place a cap on the number of points you can earn on your card. If you continue to spend after you have reached that cap, you will no longer earn points on your spending.
- What is points shaping? Points shaping works in the same way as points capping. If your card shapes points, you will earn a certain number of points per dollar up to certain threshold. After you pass that threshold, your earn rate per dollar will be reduced.
You may have to pay more to add additional cardholders: Some card providers allow one free additional cardholder, while some provide up to ten. Before adding any additional cardholders to your account, find out what costs are involved, including annual fees and fees to opt in to rewards programs.
How To Make It Work
So, you want to add an additional cardholder to your account. What do you need to do to make it work for you?
Step 1. Choose the right card
Compare your options to find the card that suits your needs – and the needs of your additional cardholders. Keep in mind all costs involved, and read the small print to check whether there are any points caps in place, whether features are offered to additional cardholders, and how many additional cardholders can be added at no extra cost.
Step 2. Keep track of your spending
With multiple cardholders on one account, it’s important to keep a close eye on spending day-to-day. Make use of your card’s app to see how much is being spent on the account every few days, or at least once a week. This not only helps you manage your cardholders’ spending, it can also help you avoid going over your credit limit.
Step 3. Make every cardholder accountable
While this probably won’t be an issue with your partner, it’s probably a good idea to set ground rules if you are adding your kids to the account – especially if this is their first foray into the world of credit. Try involving them in management of the account, tracking spending, and paying the bills at the end of the month. It may be helpful to use the experience to teach them about credit, so they are better prepared when they eventually get their own card in their own name.
Free Additional Credit Cardholders - Frequently Asked Questions
When you have joint cardholders on one account, both are assessed for their creditworthiness on application – and both are jointly responsible for any spending on the account. That means, if there is a default on the account, both cardholders are liable. Most Australian card providers don’t offer joint accounts on personal credit cards.
That's why most cardholders who want multiple cardholders on one account nominate one person to be the primary cardholder, and then add the other person as an additional cardholder. When this is the case, the primary cardholder is the one who is assessed for creditworthiness, while additional cardholders simply need to meet the card provider’s age eligibility requirements.
In terms of liability, only the primary cardholder is liable for the account. That means any spending – whether it is done by the primary cardholder or the additional cardholders – is the responsibility of the primary cardholder alone. As for building – or knocking down – credit, only the primary cardholder’s credit will be affected.
If you want to add an additional cardholder to your account, you may be able to do so when you apply for the card, or you may have to fill in a separate application once you’ve been approved. If you’ve had the card a while, you simply complete the application (either online or on paper, as your card provider allows).
While additional cardholders are not subject to a credit check, they will have to meet your card provider’s eligibility requirements. These may stipulate additional cardholders are residents or citizens of Australia, who are aged 16 or over. In some cases, additional cardholders must be aged 18 or over.
For each additional cardholder, you will have to provide all relevant personal details as requested by your card provider. These will typically include the cardholder’s full name, date of birth, residential address and contact details. Other details – such as employment status and income – may also be required, along with supporting documentation.
Once you have submitted your request, your card provider will assess all the details and documentation provided, to decide whether or not to add your requested additional cardholder to your account. As long as all goes well, your additional cardholder will receive their card in the post within one to two weeks.
Card providers usually have certain criteria additional cardholders must meet. Typically, this means they must be of a certain age, either 16 or 18. Check your card’s terms for further information regarding additional cardholder criteria. For the most part, card providers don’t specify there must be a certain relationship between the primary and additional cardholders. That means you are free to add who you like to your account, whether that’s your partner, your kids, other relatives, or your friends. Obviously, you should only add someone who you trust (see liability).
This really depends on the card. Some cards only allow for one additional cardholder, while others allow up to nine additional cardholders. It’s worth noting that some credit cards don’t allow any additional cardholders.
While access will vary from card to card, most cards restrict additional cardholder actions. As an example, additional cardholders cannot request a credit limit increase or make changes to the account.
As for account visibility and security, primary and additional cardholders typically have their own separate card PINs and online account access. Depending on the card, the primary cardholder may be able to place limits on additional cardholder spending, while restricting the type of transactions additional cards can make.
Adding an additional cardholder can boost spending on the card account, allowing the primary cardholder to earn more rewards. All rewards points earned on the account are channelled to the primary cardholder’s rewards balance. From there, it’s up to the primary cardholder how to redeem them. Some of the best ways to earn frequent flyer points is with an additional cardholder.
Again, this will depend on the card. In terms of complimentary insurance covers, additional cardholders can typically benefit from the same cover as primary cardholders, as long as they meet the card’s terms (i.e. use their card to cover the cost of travel to benefit from travel insurance on their trip).
However, not all extras are provided to additional cardholders. As an example, cards that offer travel credit or airport lounge access may only provide those benefits to primary cardholders. If you are unsure about what your additional cardholders will have access to in terms of extras, contact your card provider.
Regardless of how many additional cardholders are added to the account, the primary cardholder remains liable for all cardholder spending. So, whatever your additional cardholders spend on your card, you are the one who must make sure that spending is repaid.
When a card provider adds an additional cardholder to an account, they may carry out an identity check, but will not typically carry out a credit check. As you are the one who is liable for the account, the credit history of your additional cardholders is not really relevant to your provider. While this can be beneficial under some circumstances – for example, when you want to provide access to credit to someone whose credit is not good enough to get approved on their own – it does come with the drawback that as an additional cardholder, they cannot build credit by being responsible with their card.
As the primary cardholder, only your credit will be affected by your card (which is another reason to only add additional cardholders that you trust).
While there are plenty of cards that allow additional cardholders to be added at no extra cost, some cards charge an annual fee for each additional cardholder on the account. Usually, this fee is lower than the annual fee for the primary cardholder, but it may still affect the value you receive from the rewards and extras gained from adding additional cardholders.