When you share a household, it can sometimes make sense to combine your finances together to make things more simple.

Part of combining finances could be sharing the family credit card – this allows you to pool your rewards and essentially get more rewards by combining your spending as well.

There are a few things to consider, however, like the difference between joint credit card accounts and simply adding an authorized user to your account.

Let’s dive in.

Authorized users & secondary cardholders

An authorized user (or secondary cardholder) on a particular credit card account is someone who’s able to use the credit card but doesn’t claim responsibility on paying the bill at the end of the month or charges that are made to the account. That responsibility goes to the primary cardholder.

Pros – authorized users build credit

As an authorized user, the biggest pro is the possibility of helping build or rebuild your credit.

Even though you aren’t responsible for the account payments, your name does show up on the credit report, helping your credit along the way. And if the primary cardholder’s credit history on the particular account you were added onto is good, this will reflect positively on your score.

Conversely, as the primary cardholder, the biggest pro is knowing that the authorized user’s credit history will not affect your credit score.

Cons – bill payment responsibility

For the primary cardholder, the biggest con is having all the responsibility fall onto their shoulders.

If the authorized user on their account doesn’t pay them somehow for their purchases, it’s the primary cardholder’s responsibility to pay, which can cause pretty big rifts (to say the least).

The same can be said the other way around – if the primary cardholder doesn’t pay off the credit card, both primary and authorized cardholders’ credit scores will take a hit.

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Joint credit cards

The main difference between a joint credit card account and an authorized user is the payment responsibility – paying the bill falls onto whoever is on the account, rather than just the primary cardholder. All cardholders on a joint credit card account are the primary cardholders.

You can have a joint credit card with a spouse or an adult child, for example.

Pros – simplified finances & users build credit

In the same light as joint chequing accounts, having a joint credit card account can simplify the household’s finances by minimizing statements and logins to keep track of all while maximizing the amount of rewards you can earn by combining your spending on one account.

This can also be beneficial for the users’ credit scores, provided the payments are made on time.

Cons – account closing

The biggest con when it comes to joint credit cards is how hard it can be to close the account. It’s not as easy as you may think.

Should anything happen between cardholders, it can get potentially ugly.

The reason why is the balance has to be paid off entirely before the account can be closed. And trying to settle something like this after a falling out with the other cardholders can be frustrating, to say the least.

It’s always good to exercise caution when cosigning for a joint credit card account.

Top credit cards with free secondary cardholders

With all that said, if you’re thinking more the secondary cardholder route, there are quite a few good options out there to consider.

Here are some of the best credit cards with at least one free secondary card.

Credit Card Standout Feature Annual Fee Apply Now
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite No foreign transaction fees $139 Apply Now
American Express Cobalt Best credit card in Canada $120, charged out as a $10 monthly fee Apply Now
MBNA Rewards World Elite Flexible rewards with simple earn rates $120 Apply Now
MBNA Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Mastercard Annual companion voucher $75 Apply Now
American Express Marriott Bonvoy Annual free night stay $120 Apply Now

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite has a lot going for it.

No foreign transaction fees, complimentary Priority Pass membership with 6 annual free passes, and emergency medical for people over 75 are all great benefits that come with these cards.

It also provides the first secondary card for free. Every other card has a $50 fee.

American Express Cobalt

Canada’s top credit card for over 2 years dominates the top of nearly all credit card categories. It has some of the best earn rates on the market for a manageable $10 monthly fee.

And there are no additional fees for supplementary cards. In fact, many American Express cards offer at least one free supplementary card.

MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard

On top of having the usual World Elite benefits, the MBNA Rewards World Elite offers 2 points per dollar spent on all your purchases with loads of ways to use your points.

You can also enjoy no annual fee on extra cards.

MBNA Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Mastercard

The MBNA Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Mastercard stands out for its annual companion voucher – bring someone along with you for only $99 USD plus taxes and fees.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy

The top hotel credit card in Canada packs a lot of value – its annual free night stay alone pays for its $120 annual fee and thensome. Plus, you can enjoy additional cards for no extra fee.

Cards for the family

Sharing a credit card account with your household is a great way to earn extra rewards and enjoy simplified finances, but it shouldn’t be done on a whim.

There are quite a few things to consider before making the final decision.

What about you? Do you have a joint credit card account or authorized users on your credit card account?

Let us know what you think about them in the comments below.