How I Avoided Authorized User Fees — Reader Success Story
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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Jeff, who used mobile payment options to avoid annual fees for an additional cardholder. Here’s what he had to say:
My wife and I are big points fanatics, and we recently took a very lucrative offer for the Platinum Card® from American Express. The bonus was great; the problem is that an additional card comes with a hefty price tag, and accumulating points without one is more difficult. We originally swapped the card for purchases, but this was a hassle and we found ourselves missing out on points and even considering the extra fee.
Then I realized that I could add the card to my virtual wallet in Apple Pay, so we did not need the extra physical card. Now my wife keeps the one card we have, but I can still easily earn points at locations accepting Apple Pay (which seems to be growing rapidly). The same idea can be applied to Chase Pay and others. For those who may be on the fence about paying from an app like I was, it could help you earn more points conveniently without having to pay an extra annual fee.
One perk of mobile payment apps is that you can use your credit cards without having to carry them with you. Your virtual wallet effectively gives you a second card that you can use to boost spending on your account, which helps if you’re trying to meet a spending requirement or simply earn more points. As Jeff’s story illustrates, you can also use this strategy to avoid paying annual fees on cards that charge to add authorized users. Some cards even offer extra points for purchases made by mobile payment, like this year’s Chase Freedom bonus back in the first quarter or the 3x category on the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card.
The downside of this approach is that a virtual card doesn’t receive the benefits extended to authorized users, and Amex Platinum has the best authorized user benefits of any card out there. You can add up to three cardholders for an extra $175 annually (See Rates & Fees), and each of them get a $100 Global Entry application credit, lounge access, Starwood and Hilton status and more. If you don’t think you’ll get enough value out of those perks, you can also get complimentary Amex Gold cards for up to 99 authorized users. They won’t get any of the Platinum benefits other than the Global Entry credit, but they’ll be able to earn points with merchants that don’t accept mobile payments.
I also have to point out that while the Platinum Card has valuable benefits, it isn’t a strong option for everyday spending, since it only earns 1 point per dollar on most purchases. Jeff and his wife could earn Membership Rewards points more quickly with The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express for example, or they could look to a different program for a card that earns a good return on non-bonus purchases.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Jeff for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to firstname.lastname@example.org; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Feature image by Westend61 / Getty Images.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
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