Can you get a welcome bonus if you’re already a supplementary cardholder for someone else?

Jan 28, 2020

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Welcome or sign-up bonuses can be a great way to boost your points and miles balances. If you are eligible for the bonus and meet the required minimum spend in the required period (usually 90 days of cardmembership), you can maximise your travel by reaching your goals sooner.

Related: The best U.K. miles and points credit cards of 2020

A friend recently asked me a specific question about welcome bonuses and supplementary cards. She is a supplementary cardholder on her fiancé’s American Express credit card account. She is considering applying for the same card herself (in her own name), as she had seen an offer for an attractive welcome bonus. However, she wasn’t sure if she would be eligible for the bonus because she already had the card — albeit in the capacity as a supplementary cardholder.

So how does it work? It depends on the issuer.

American Express

American Express U.K. has some of the best welcome bonuses available in the U.K. right now and offers some of our favourite card products like:

As of 2019, there are tough restrictions on welcome bonuses if you hold or have held more than one Amex card — you can read our guide to these restrictions here.

However, these apply to the primary cardholder only. If you are the supplementary cardholder on someone else’s card (and therefore someone else’s account), you can still receive the welcome bonus if you apply for the card yourself and meet the spending requirements. The restrictions introduced in 2019 only apply to you if you held a card in your own name as a primary cardholder, not if someone else provided you with a supplementary card from their account.

My friend could even choose to provide a supplementary card to her fiancé (who was the person who appointed her a supplementary cardholder on his account previously), if it would help to reach the minimum spend to earn her the welcome bonus or her valuable British Airways 2-4-1 Companion Voucher.

(Photo by Josh Gribben/The Points Guy)

Virgin Money

We also love the Virgin Atlantic cobranded Mastercards, especially the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard Credit Card, which we consider to be the best card for when Amex is not accepted.

You can earn a valuable limited-time only sign-up bonus of 25,000 Flying Club miles by spending £3,000 in the first 90 days of card membership, and you can add a supplementary cardholder if you wish to reach this goal faster.

There are also restrictions on receiving sign-up bonuses with Virgin as well, though they are not nearly as restrictive as those with American Express cards. In order to receive the card (and its sign-up bonus), you cannot be an existing Virgin Atlantic credit card customer, and nor can you have closed another Virgin Atlantic credit card in the past six months.

This applies to the primary cardholder only. As with American Express cards, if you are the supplementary cardholder on an existing Virgin card (or were on a card closed in the past six months), you can still receive the sign-up bonus for applying (and being approved for) a Virgin Atlantic Mastercard in your own name.

(Photo by Josh Gribben/The Points Guy U.K.)

Bottom line

Welcome and sign-up bonuses can be a fantastic feature with most rewards cards and can more than justify the annual fee in the first year at least. You need to be strategic about ensuring you reach the minimum spend required to receive it, and appointing a supplementary cardholder may be an efficient way to get there. Fortunately for the two major reward card providers in the U.K., you can still obtain a welcome or sign-up bonus by applying for your own card even if you are or have been a supplementary cardholder.

Featured image by Josh Gribben / The Points Guy

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