If you are thinking about adding an additional cardholder to your credit card account, there are certain factors worth bearing in mind. While adding an additional cardholder can provide a range of benefits – both to you and your additional cardholders – there are potential drawbacks to be aware of.
In this post we’ll cover everything you need to know about additional cardholders, including the various benefits associated with adding additional cardholders to your account. In terms of drawbacks, we’ll discuss what you can do to counteract them – to then move on to the best cards offering free additional cardholders within each category.
Let’s start with the basics then. What do you need to know about additional cardholders?
Q. What is an additional cardholder?
A. An additional cardholder holds an additional card attached to a primary credit card account. Using their card, the additional cardholder can make purchases and cash advances in the same way as the primary cardholder.
Q. Who is in charge of adding and cancelling additional cards?
A. As the primary cardholder on your credit card account, you are in charge. That means you decide who you want to add to your account as an additional cardholder. You also decide when to cancel additional cardholder accounts, and you can do so at any time, according to your card’s terms.
Q. Who can be added as an additional cardholder?
A. 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).
Q. How many additional cardholders can be added?
A. 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.
Q. Does the additional cardholder have full access to the account?
A. 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.
Q. What about rewards?
A. 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.
Q. Can additional cardholders benefit from card extras?
A. 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.
Q. Who is liable?
A. 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.
Q. Can an additional cardholder use the account to build their credit?
A. 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).
Q. How much does adding an additional cardholder cost?
A. 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.
Q. How do you add an additional cardholder?
A. Each card provider has its own way of adding additional cardholders. Depending on your provider, you may add an additional cardholder by:
If you are looking to add an additional cardholder to your account when you first apply for a credit card, you may be able to do so as part of the initial application process.
Note, you may be required to provide proof of identification for your additional cardholder. If your additional cardholder is not known to your provider (he or she doesn’t have an existing account), they may need to visit a branch or an Australia Post outlet with identification, or alternatively, provide ID by email.
Okay, so now we’ve covered all the important stuff surrounding how additional cards work, let’s take a look at the various ways you could benefit from adding an additional cardholder to your account.
✅ Boost your Earn Rate
As we always say, rewards cards reward spending. If you don’t spend enough on your card, you may not earn enough in rewards to make paying the card’s annual fee worthwhile. If you’re looking for a way to channel more spending through your rewards card to create more rewards value, adding an additional cardholder to your account could do the trick.
As your additional cardholder spends day to day, you benefit from all the additional points they earn on their spend. Obviously this comes with a caveat. You must be able to afford that additional spending – and repay it before it starts accruing interest – for the extra points your additional cardholder provides to be worthwhile.
✅ They Benefit from Extras
While your additional cardholders may not benefit directly from the rewards they earn, they can benefit from extras. Depending on your card, your additional cardholders may benefit from complimentary insurance covers, access to your card’s concierge service, and even access to airport lounges when they travel.
What extras they are eligible for will depend on the card. Not all extras extended to you as the primary cardholder will be offered to your additional cardholders, so it’s worth sifting through the fine print or contacting your card provider if you want to find out exactly what features additional cardholders can access.
✅ Simplify Family Finances
Keeping on top of your family’s finances can be time consuming. Aside from the various bills you have to pay month to month, you may also have debit and credit card spending to track, BNPL payments to make, and budgeting to keep on top of.
Streamlining your credit card accounts can make the process of dealing with your family finances much easier. Instead of having lots of different credit card accounts to check over and pay each month, you would have just one card account with multiple cardholders, which would simplify the process of tracking transactions and paying down what you owe.
With only one credit card account, you could potentially save on fees too. Instead of paying multiple annual fees, you will only pay one annual fee. And, if you only have to monitor and pay down one account, it should be easier to keep on top of, reducing the risk of getting hit with fees, such as late fees and over-limit fees.
✅ 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.
✅ Teach Kids about Credit
With that in mind, experiencing life as an additional cardholder can help those who are inexperienced with credit to gain the skills they need to succeed when they eventually get a card in their name.
Instead of just jumping into the world of credit with no knowledge of how it works, your additional cardholders can learn how to be responsible with a credit card in a relatively low risk setting.
While you will have to provide them with guidance, teaching them to spend within their means and always paying back their spending before it attracts interest, their time as an additional cardholder could set them up for a much healthier relationship with credit when they strike out on their own.
So that’s the good news. What’s the bad news? While these points aren’t going to apply to every cardholder, they may be worth keeping in mind before you add an additional cardholder to your account.
❌ Maxing Out Points
As we mentioned earlier, adding an additional cardholder can boost your points earning potential, as you benefit from their additional card use channelling more spending – and hence, more points – through your account. While this can certainly add value to your rewards card, it can also cause issues if your card caps or shapes your points earn.
What’s the solution? If your card caps or shapes points, start by working out how much you and your additional cardholders will spend on the account. If that spend maxes out your points cap or results in you earning a lower rate on a significant amount of your spending, you may want to consider switching to a card that provides more value on your combined spend.
❌ When Fees Outweigh Benefits
While some cards allow additional cardholders at no extra cost, other cards charge an annual fee for each additional cardholder added to the account. You will usually see this on premium and rewards cards with higher base annual fees.
In some cases, you may find that paying those additional cardholder annual fees is not worth your while. In other words, what you are paying out to add additional cardholders adds up to more than what you and your additional cardholders are getting in return.
What’s the solution? Before you add an additional cardholder, it’s worth considering how much you will pay in additional annual fees to add them to your account. Compare that to the value you would get in return from their increased rewards earn and the various extras on offer, to determine whether the fees are worth paying.
If it’s not worth it, check out the range of cards with no fee for additional cardholders. The list below features just some of them.
❌ Runaway Spending
Again, it’s worth pointing out, because this is important. As the primary cardholder, you are liable for all spending on the account. If your additional cardholders go on a spending spree, if they spend so much it takes you over your credit limit, if they withdraw cash at an ATM not knowing how costly cash advances can be – that’s all on you.
You have to pay it back or risk the consequences. This could mean paying through the nose in interest, or getting hit with fees as a result of their bad – or simply unwitting – behaviour. If you are unable to pay back their spending or you miss a payment, it could affect your credit. This could have a knock-on effect for you, making it harder to apply for credit in the future.
What’s the solution? Only add additional cardholders that you trust. If they are inexperienced with credit, teach them how to be responsible with their card. Keep a close eye on their spending, and place limits on their ability to spend, if needed.
❌ Inability to Build Credit
Over in the US, additional cardholders can build their credit with responsible use of their card. This can make it easier for them to get approved for credit when they’re ready to apply on their own. Unfortunately, Australian card providers don’t allow for this. Only the primary cardholder’s credit is affected by the use of the card, not additional cardholders.
What’s the solution? There’s not much we can offer here. The only upside is that additional cardholders can use their experience to learn how to be responsible with credit when they do get their own card, limiting the potential for damaging their credit score later down the line.
Time to skip back to rewards now. We’re going to look at a few scenarios where adding an additional cardholder may or may not work, in terms of the value you get in return.
American Express Platinum Edge
With the American Express Platinum Edge, you can earn uncapped rewards within the American Express Membership Rewards program at a rate of:
Thanks to the card’s current intro offer, new cardholders pay no annual fee in the first year, saving them $195. American Express also allows up to four additional cardholders to be added at no extra cost.
The primary cardholder can also benefit from 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards Points after spending $1,500 in the first three months. $200 Travel Credit is also provided every year to balance out the standard annual fee. Primary and secondary cardholders can take advantage of the card’s complimentary insurances (according to the card’s terms), which include smartphone screen repairs up to $500.
|Spend Examples |
Within the Membership Rewards program, 20,000 points typically equates to $100 in rewards value.
Outcome: Considering the fact that additional cardholders on this card are free – and there is no capping on points – adding additional cardholders could be incredibly valuable, especially after the first year when the standard primary cardholder annual fee kicks in.
Citi Rewards Credit Card
The Citi Rewards Card offers the following earn rate within the Citi Rewards program:
With its intro offer, the card is currently providing new cardholders 90,000 Citi reward Points and a $100 Coles eGift Card after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.
The following perks are provided to primary and additional cardholders (unless stated otherwise in the card’s terms):
In terms of annual fees, the primary cardholder annual fee is $49 in the first year and $149 per year thereafter. Up to four additional cardholders can be added to the account, at a cost of $90 per card.
|Spend Examples |
Within the Citi Rewards program, 2,500 Citi reward Points typically equals $10 in rewards value.
Outcome: Within these spend examples, only in the third example does the additional cardholder rewards earn outweigh the additional cardholder annual fee. Bearing in mind the monthly cap on points is set at $10,000, it would be a good idea to work out how much your combined spend would provide in rewards value before adding an additional cardholder to this account.
ANZ Frequent Flyer Credit Card
With the ANZ Frequent Flyer Credit Card, cardholders earn Qantas Points at the following rate:
With its intro offer, the card provides 25,000 bonus Qantas Points after a spend of $1,000 in the first three months.
As a classic rewards card, there are no other extras of note on this card. It has a standard annual fee of $95, with up to three additional cardholders at a cost of $65 per card, per year.
|Spend Examples |
Within the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, you could book an economy flight from Melbourne to Sydney, redeeming 8,000 Qantas Points at a value of $119. In the Qantas Store, you would redeem around 10,000 Qantas Points for $50 in gift cards.
Outcome: The additional cardholder in the second example would just about break even after paying the additional cardholder fee, while in the third example, there would be a slightly larger payout in terms of value. With its lower points shaping cap, this card would better suit smaller spenders, but only if they could still get value back on their spending after paying their annual fee.
As you can see from the above examples, cards offering additional cardholders at no extra cost tend to provide more in the way of value. With that in mind, within this section we have brought together some of the best cards for adding additional cardholders for free, within a range of card categories.
With its $1,450 standard annual fee, the American Express Platinum Card is a super premium card that provides heaps of extras to the primary cardholder. To its four free additional cardholders it provides:
Mentioned above, the American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card is a premium card with a lower standard annual fee of $195. It offers its four free additional cardholders:
With the Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card, primary cardholders can take advantage of a generous intro offer of 150,000 bonus Altitude Points, plus two Priority Pass lounge passes per year for a $250 annual fee. One free additional cardholder can access:
Meanwhile, the St.George Amplify Qantas Signature Credit Card provides primary cardholders an intro offer of 90,000 bonus Qantas Points, two Qantas Lounge passes per year and a birthday bonus of 10% of annual points earned for a standard annual fee of $279. The card offers its one free additional cardholder:
Like a rewards card, cashback cards can really benefit from the addition of additional cardholders, providing additional spending power to boost the primary cardholder’s overall earn.
With the American Express Cashback Card, up to four free additional cardholders can enhance the overall cashback earn, with uncapped cashback earning up for grabs. Additional cardholders can also benefit from the card’s Purchase Protection, Refund Protection and Smartphone Screen Cover.
With the Westpac Low Rate Card, new cardholders can reach their minimum $4,000 spend requirement even faster by adding a free additional cardholder, to gain access to the card’s $400 intro cashback offer
The same applies to the St.George Vertigo Credit Card, which also offers one free cardholder. Its cashback offer provides $300 after a $4,000 spend.
Want to earn rewards while paying no annual fee? You can, with these cards, which not only offer no annual fee for the primary cardholder, but for additional cardholders too.
With no annual fee, the Qantas American Express Discovery Credit Card also allows up to four additional cardholders at no extra cost. These cardholders can boost the uncapped points earn at a rate of 0.75 Qantas Points per $1 on most eligible spending.
Working in much the same way, the American Express Velocity Escape Credit Card has no annual fee for the primary cardholder and up to four additional cardholders. Those additional cardholders could create real value in the card, earning an uncapped earn rate of 0.75 Velocity Points per $1 on most eligible spending.
Earning points on the Membership Rewards program, the American Express Essential Credit Card also has no annual fee for the primary cardholder and up to four additional cardholders, offering an uncapped earn rate of 1.25 points per $1 across most eligible spending. Additional cardholders can also benefit from smartphone screen insurance up to $500 and purchase covers.
Moving on to the Coles No Annual Fee Mastercard, this card has no annual fee for the primary cardholder and up to four additional cardholders, providing an uncapped earn rate of 1 point per $2 spent, within the Flybuys rewards program.
If you and your additional cardholders want to benefit from zero interest spending, these cards are well worth a look.
The ANZ Platinum Credit Card is currently offering 0% p.a. on purchases for 17 months, with no annual fee in the first year, reverting to $87 per year thereafter. Up to nine additional cardholders can be added at no cost, who can also benefit from the card’s complimentary insurance covers.
The Bankwest Breeze Mastercard and Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard are offering 0% p.a. on purchases for 15 months, also with no annual fee in the first year ($49 thereafter for the classic card or $69 for platinum). These cards have a lovely ongoing purchase rate at 9.90% p.a.
Up to three free additional cardholders can access benefits on the platinum card, which include no foreign transaction fees, complimentary overseas travel insurance, interstate flight inconvenience insurance and 90-day purchase security insurance.
Carry a balance occasionally? Choosing a card with a low ongoing rate could help you save money on both your spending, and that of your additional cardholders.
Not only does the American Express Low Rate Credit Card charge no annual fee for the primary cardholder and up to four additional cardholders, it also has a super low purchase rate of 8.99% p.a. Additional cardholders can also benefit from access to the card’s Purchase Protection and Refund Protection.
Offering one of the lowest purchase rates on the market, the G&C Mutual Bank Low Rate Visa Credit Card provides the primary cardholder and one free additional cardholder with an ongoing rate of 7.49% p.a. The standard annual fee is $50.
NOTE: Please bear in mind that while we have done our utmost to confirm additional cardholder benefits within each card’s terms, you should always check with your card provider what features your additional cardholders can access before you rely on them.
Founder of Creditcard.com.au. Roland has extensive knowledge about credit cards in Australia. Known as a credit card expert, he has been featured on tv and in various publications. Some popular offers on our site right now include the ANZ Low Rate. This special offer has no annual fee first year, a low purchase rate and long 0% balance transfer. Have a look also at the huge 0% for 30 months balance transfer from Citi with no balance transfer fees.
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