Thursday, July 16, 2015

Taking Advantage of American Express Promotions with Authorized Users

Chuck over at Doctor of Credit recently put a post together trying to put a value on American Express cards.  While his valuations were correct at the time, I believe the numbers have increased significantly due to more and more lucrative promotions coming out.

See the following posts for some examples:

$9 per Card at Newegg - Current
$9 per Card at TicketMaster - Currently only $5 per card
$20 off $20 at Sam's Club
$17 per Card at Brooks Brothers
$30 off Your Phone Bill - Current
$75 off $250 at Staples, Home Depot and More X5

To take advantage of these offers, you need to have as many American Express cards as possible.   The promotions either work on every card you have or are targeted and the more cards you have, the greater chance you will be targeted on one or more cards.

The key to unlocking AMEX promotions is Authorized Users.  Unlike most credit card companies, authorized users of cards issued by American Express get their own unique credit card number which means it is like opening a new card in terms of the bonus (unlike Fidelity American Express and Citi AMEX cards where AUs have the same account number on the front and are not eligible for separate bonuses).  American Express allows an inordinate number of AUs.  You can add yourself or someone else multiple times as an AUs to the same credit card.

When adding an authorized user online, you need to enter the person's Social Security Number.  If you call up, you do not need to give them the SSN, though they will probably call you multiple times trying to get the SSN.

If you do this, you will also put yourself in great position for Small Business Saturday, which is the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Some limits:
  1. If you sign up the same person twice at one time, you will approved for one and American Express will send you a letter saying that the second card application is cancelled because it is a duplicate.
  2. Limit of 99 authorized users per credit card account
  3. American Express probably won't like this too much when they figure it out.  Try explaining to a rep why you need to add yourself as an authorized user.  Don't sign up for 99 cards per account. Add a couple per account and you'll be fine.  Remember, it's important to push the limits, but you want to be pushing the limits less than other people.
  4. Excessive numbers of Authorized Users can trigger a Financial Review by American Express.  As long as your provable income matches what you told American Express on your application, a Financial Review is nothing to be afraid of.
  5. Authorized Users on American Express cards seem to affect your credit like a new account does. I don't know the exact affect on your credit, but consider it like a new credit inquiry.