As of September 1, 2019, American Express is only allowing cardholders to transfer Membership Rewards to partner accounts of authorized users and those authorized users need to have been added at least 90 days ago. What does this mean?
You still are not allowed to transfer (or pool) Membership Rewards between accounts, even with your spouse, family member or authorized user(s). This rule is more restrictive than Chase and Citi, which both do let you send points between accounts.
What you can currently do is transfer Membership Rewards points to the partner accounts of people who are authorized users on one of your American Express cards that earn Membership Rewards. For example, I can transfer Sharon’s Membership Rewards to my Delta SkyMiles account. I can also send my Membership Rewards to my dad’s ANA Mileage Club account, which is exactly what I did to help them have enough miles to book their trip to Bali and Thailand. When I did this, I added him as an authorized user to my account and a day later I could transfer the points. That’s no longer possible due to the 90-day hold period before you can make transfers to new authorized users.
There’s no doubt this change was suggested by AMEX’s RAT team to keep people from selling points. If all you had to do was add someone as an authorized user, what’s to keep those with little to no moral compass from sending points to whomever they want if someone is willing to pay them for the points? In this case, a 90-day hold period seems reasonable.
However, to prepare for the need to transfer points in the future, I am adding those persons to whom I think I might want to transfer my Membership Rewards into their partner accounts as authorized users now. I’m thinking mainly about Sharon and my dad and his wife. That way, just in case I ever need to send them points, they will already be on my account.
So if I want to do this, which would be the best American Express card that earns Membership Rewards to add someone as an authorized user?
These are the things I take into consideration when deciding which AMEX card I want to add an authorized user:
Depending on which card you choose, you can pay anywhere from $300 to add an additional user to the Business Platinum card, $175 for up to three additional users on a Personal Platinum card or no charge to add users to any number of other American Express cards.
Now, there may be a good reason to add someone as an authorized user to an American Express Platinum personal or business card. The main reason is that authorized users will get some of the same perks as the primary cardholder, like lounge access to Delta Sky Clubs and Centurion Lounges.
That’s not the basis of this article so I’m going to say when it comes to adding an authorized user only for the means of allowing points transfers, these cards aren’t the best choices.
Or are they?
Credit Report Consequences
One of the biggest problems I have with adding authorized users to credit cards is that, if it’s a personal credit card, it will show up on your credit report even if it’s not your account. This can be a good thing if you’re looking to build credit but if you’re trying to stay under Chase’s 5/24 rule, this is a big problem. Sure, you can call the bank and explain how you’re only an authorized user and not responsible for the charges but that’s one more step that I’d prefer to avoid.
Taking this into consideration, the best card to add someone to for the purpose of allowing transfers of Membership Rewards to their accounts would be an AMEX business card. The same ones I just said weren’t a good idea. Here’s why.
American Express Business Charge Cards
If you have any of the American Express Business charge cards (Platinum, Gold or Green), you can add additional users to your account. For example, say you have a Business Gold Card. You can add additional Gold cards to your account for $50 each OR you can provide a Green card to an authorized user for FREE!!!!
In fact, all AMEX business charge cardholders, no matter the card type, can add additional Green cards for no charge.
If the only reason you’re adding an additional cardholder is so you can transfer points to their partner accounts, this is clearly the best option. There’s no cost and the cards don’t show up on authorized user’s credit report.
American Express Blue Business Plus Card
This one is on the list cards of cards I’d like to have for myself. I often recommend it to people looking for a starter business card which earns transferrable points.
The Blue Business Plus card has no-annual-fee and earns 2x points on all purchases up to $50,000 per year. The card also allows the addition of authorized users for no cost.
American Express Everyday Card
What if you don’t have an American Express business card? The best option would then be if you have one of the American Express Everyday cards.
My go-to card for Sharon is the Everyday Preferred. It has great bonus categories for everyday spending and allows you to have additional cardholders for no charge.
This is one of the only cards where I added myself to her account. I now have a card in my wallet for when I get sent to the store for groceries AND it allows me to transfer Sharon’s points from her AMEX account to my accounts if necessary.
Don’t Add Authorized Users to This Card
Researching this article, I found a card that you definitely shouldn’t add authorized users to for the purpose of making points transfers unless there’s no other option.
Now the only reason we still have an AMEX personal Green Card is that Sharon won’t let me get rid of it. Something about how she knows the number by heart (Note from Sharon: That’s right. So you shush.).
However, I have no intention of adding myself as an authorized user.
You can add up to five cards for $30 and then each additional card will cost another $30 each. If you have no other option and you have 5 people you need to add as authorized users, $30 isn’t that unreasonable. Remember, that’s a cost you’ll pay every year to keep them on your account.
American Express’ new requirement of having an authorized user on an account for at least 90 days before being able to transfer points to their partner accounts means we now need to do some advance planning. Fortunately, it doesn’t take too much time to add an authorized user to your account, and if you choose the right card to add them to, there doesn’t need to be any additional expense either.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary