It’s not uncommon to have a need a for an authorized user on one of your cards but to lack the willingness to shell out extra cash to pay for an authorized user. Luckily, there’s an easy trick that can often work to solve this issue in many scenarios: the “poor man’s authorized user.”
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What is the poor man’s authorized user?
Some credit card issuers will allow you to receive an exact duplicate of your credit card upon request. The credit card account number stays the same, the expiration doesn’t change, and even the security code on the back remains the exact same. It’s essentially a clone of your current card and one that can be active concurrently along with your current card.
Typically banks will offer this option when you need some kind of replacement because your card has been defaced or maybe the magnetic strip is faulty. (If you’ve reported a lost or stolen card, you can count on some of the numbers being different for obvious reasons.)
So, with these banks, you can simply request a duplicate copy of your card so that you have two active versions of your credit card.
Why would you want to do this?
This is a great trick for couples who might have a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve who want the bonus spending perks but don’t need or want an authorized user for the heavy perks like lounge access and thus don’t want to pay an additional $75 fee to activate an additional card.
For example, if all of your travels are with your partner and you’ve got a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, then you should be able to enter lounges with your partner for free (subject to capacity controls). That means that the need for the lounge benefit is all but nonexistent. Or maybe you have the Platinum Card from American Express or Citi Prestige and your partner has the Reserve, so there’s really no need for Priority Pass.
In those cases, it might make sense to go with the poor man’s authorized user since you won’t need the benefits from the card.
Maximize bonus spending
Perhaps the main reason why you’d want an additional card for a card like the Reserve is for those instances when your partner isn’t around to use their Reserve to cover a charge. This would probably most often be the case when you’re out on your own and grabbing a bite to eat or paying for something like using a parking garage.
In my experience, I’m rarely asked for my ID in those instances and so it’s practical for me to use Brad’s Reserve and ensure that we maximize the 3X on those bonus categories without having to pay $75 to do so. The practicality of this could depend on where you live and the places you frequent, but for us, it’s worked out just fine and has allowed us to earn extra Ultimate Rewards while not hassling over sharing a single card.
Another major reason why you’d want to go with this route is that you don’t want to open up a new account for your partner or spouse. Authorized user accounts usually count towards the Chase 5/24 rule, so by adding your partner as an authorized user, you could be hurting their chances to get one of Chase’s best cards. Thus, by going with the poor man’s route, you can help them get approved for their cards.
This option isn’t for everyone and it does have some limitations, but for many it can be a nice and easy way to help maximize earnings for people in certain relationships without spending additional funds for other benefits and perks you don’t need.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.