Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

What bonus can you get for adding a free Amex supplementary card to your account?

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I wasn’t planning to do another American Express article this week, but something came up in the comments to the article on Monday (and comes up in my emails with worrying regularity) which made me think that we should take a proper look at American Express supplementary cards.  There seems to be some confusion about how they work.

Today I want to talk about the benefits of adding a supplementary cardholder to your Amex account and what bonus you will earn if you do.  A second article will explore the topic in more detail.

Why should you add a supplementary cardholder to your Amex account?

Reason 1 – it is easier to hit spending bonuses

The obvious first reason is that, by giving your partner a supplementary card on your American Express account, you can both focus your spending onto the same card.

This is especially useful if you are working towards a spend-based bonus, such as:

The 2-4-1 Avios redemption voucher on the British Airways American Express cards, which requires annual spending of £20,000 (free BA Amex) or £10,000 (the paid British Airways American Express Premium Plus)

The 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points for spending £15,000 per year on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold 

It also makes it easier to trigger a sign-up bonus, such as the £3,000 in three months of spending required on the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card to receive the 25,000 Avios bonus.

Bonus points for adding a supplementary card to your American Express account

Reason 2 – you can share card benefits with other people

If you have The Platinum Card from American Express, it is crazy not to use your one free Platinum supplementary card.  The person who gets it will receive:

a Priority Pass for airport lounge access

full travel insurance for themselves and their immediate family (now requires opt-in under new EU rules)

Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Melia Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Marriott Bonvoy Gold hotel status

Eurostar lounge access etc etc

Even if you are single, you might want to issue a supplementary Platinum to a trusted friend or relative purely for the benefits.  My Mum had a supplementary Platinum on my account many years ago – I didn’t renew it when she hit 70 as the insurance no longer covered her – and my wife has one now.

You can issue further supplementary Platinum cards for £170 each per year.  This could be very good value for the right person given the Priority Pass and hotel status card benefits.

Note that not all Amex cards give all of their benefits to supplementary cardholders, so check the small print.

What are the benefits of adding a supplementary card to your American Express account?

Reason 3 – you can double-up on ‘statement credit’ cashback deals

Many people do not know that the holder of a supplementary card can register it as a stand-alone card on the American Express website.

If my wife logs in to her Amex online account, for example, she can see her own Gold and BA Premium Plus cards as well as the supplementary card she has on my Platinum account.

Importantly, the supplementary card receives its own batch of statement credit offers.  This means that, if an offer appears on both your main card and the supplementary, you can register for it twice and earn it twice.

Why should you add a supplementary card to your American Express account?

Reason 4 – you get bonus Membership Rewards or Avios for issuing a supplementary card

American Express now has a dedicated page on its website which you can use for issuing supplementary cardsYou can find it here.

(This page is a recent development from Amex.  In the past they have run occasional offers with bonuses for adding supplementary cards.  It now appears to be a permanent offer.  You only get the bonus points if you apply via this page.  You do NOT get the bonus points if you add a supplementary card during the original application process.)

The bonus is only paid on the FIRST supplementary card issued.  You will receive:

3,000 Membership Rewards points for issuing your first Preferred Rewards Gold supplementary card

5,000 Membership Rewards points for issuing your first Platinum supplementary card

3,000 Avios for issuing your first BA Premium Plus supplementary card

1,000 Avios for issuing your first free BA Amex supplementary card

There is NO bonus on the Costco, Harrods, Starwood or Nectar American Express cards.  There are bonuses on the two cashback cards.  The link for issuing supplementary cards is here.

Note that you WILL receive the bonus for issuing a supplementary card even if you did not qualify for a sign-up bonus when you originally applied for the card.

In Part 2 ….

Over the weekend we will look at the rules on getting American Express sign-up bonuses if you are already a supplementary cardholder.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these:

American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

Comments (112)

  • Team Plat says:

    Anyone know if adding the further supplementary Platinum (£170) is pro-rota refundable?

    Looking for them to hold the card for a busy travel period and then cancel after a few months.

  • Scottydogg says:

    I have Platinum at the moment , if i was to add my mum a Supp card , she would get a priority pass , is it the same that she can bring in 1 guest for free , ie my dad ?

    my dad is over 70 now so would he not be covered by the travel insurance ?

  • Otto says:

    How does the supplementary card holder get the additional status benefits? I am based in the Netherlands and there is a self-service portal where you put your HHonors number, for example. However, she doesn’t have access to the portal or an American Express online account as a supplementary card holder.

    • Rob says:

      She needs to create her own Amex online account using the details on the supp card. She can then apply for the hotel cards etc via that site – at least, the UK version works this way.

      • Tilly71 says:

        Does having a supplementary card on your account count towards the Amex rule of only two credit cards per account or person. My wife is a supplementary card holder to my BA Amex and I’m a supplementary holder of her gold cc.

        • Genghis says:

          No. And this “rule” doesn’t really exist anymore

  • Al says:

    If I give my partner a supplementary Platinum card does this mean that she would not receive the points bonus should she apply for the Gold card?

    • Rob says:

      No. She WOULD get the bonus later on her own card. I am covering this in the 2nd article in this series over the weekend.

  • Greg says:

    My wife hit her 2-4-1 BA voucher very quickly this year with me as a supplemental cardholder. My plan was to cancel her card now, get a refund, get her to recommend me and then start on my 2-4-1.

    However BA have put in writing that I need to use the “Same Card” to pay for the taxes on the 2-4-1 voucher. History tells me this isn’t true (I even used a Lloyds Amex once to pay taxes) but has anybody been hit with this clause ? In addition with them tightening on introductory bonus, do you think they may start to enforce this going forward. It would kill me to book a 2-4-1 first class ticket and be told I cant book because you need the same card that earned it to pay the taxes.

    • SimonW says:

      Tell them youve lost the card, get a new one/number. Makes their argument irrelevant if they ever pushed it (which as you know, they wont).

    • Rob says:

      You can use any old Amex if you book online. The call centre has been tightening up a bit but it unsure whether they actually know if a particular Amex is a BA one or not.

      • Anna says:

        I booked 3 award seats last week with my own 2 4 1 (card now downgraded to blue) an used my OH’s BAPP to pay the fees for the 3 x avios and to count towards his next voucher. No issues. I’ll be calling to add my return leg next week and hoping they won’t ask for the name on the card!

        • Anna says:

          I could use my supplementary card but OH has the 500 bonus avios offer on his.

  • Jimmy Mac says:

    My free year of the AMEX card will be over on 20th May, any idea when I would need to cancel the card to avoid any fees? and how do you cancel? Call, online?

    • Shoestring says:

      Easy to cancel on Chat & takes immediate effect

      I suppose you didn’t hit the £15k spend target?

  • The Paw says:

    Rob said:
    “You can issue further supplementary Platinum cards for £170 each per year. This could be very good value for the right person given the Priority Pass and hotel status card benefits.”

    A few years ago I asked Amex customer service if a second (£170) supplementary Platinum card comes with Priority Pass and the agent said it didn’t – only the primary Platinum card and the first (free) supplementary Platinum card come with Priority Pass. Does anyone know if she was mistaken or if this rule has changed?

    What I’m really asking is:
    Does anyone know with *absolute certainty* if I pay £170 for an additional supplementary card, will it come with a third Priority Pass membership as Rob says?

    • Chris says:

      Have to question this too. I gathered from the website that after the first Platinum supplementary card, further supplementary cards are gold, are free, and do not come with priority pass or hotel status benefits. I’m not sure about the travel insurance benefit.

      • Rob says:

        I am not saying this with 100% certainty because I’ve never done it and don’t know anyone who has.

        Amex phone agents are not exactly switched on when it comes to the arcane details though.

        Look at it this way …. what exactly are you getting for £170 UNLESS you get PPass and the hotel cards? The Gold supp gets all the insurance benefits anyway. There is a chance I am mistaken about this but why charge £170 otherwise?

        • Genghis says:

          Quite a few years ago now when upgrading old Gold->Plat I made the mistake and entered the supp info again. We then received two supps, was charged the extra £170 and this came with a PP.

          • Rob says:

            Thanks.

          • Nick says:

            I’ll have a data point to add on this soon. My wife took out plat recently and amex unilaterally decided to send me a supp for it. We have requested one for a relative that actually needs it so let’s see what it comes with

            Also worth mentioning that my wife was sent a pp last year too, despite having no platinum card in her name and not being a supp on any account. It worked as well (we tried it once just out of curiosity). Very odd.

          • The Paw says:

            Thanks @Nick – any further data points will be appreciated.

        • The Paw says:

          In the event of conflicting info, I would tend to believe you (@Rob) over a customer service agent. However, the agent *seemed* to know what she was talking about when she explicitly said that while the hotel cards, Hertz, etc would come with a second platinum supplementary card, there would be no Priority Pass. That’s why I got an unlimited Priority Pass and a (free) supplementary Gold Card for a family member who needs lounge access + insurance. As @Rob implies, without the Priority Pass, £170 for another Platinum Card seemslike a complete rip off…

          Thanks for your data point @Genghis – I’ll give Amex a call at renewal time and press the Priority Pass question.

          • Stuart_f says:

            I made exactly the same mistake as Genghis only I did it a few months ago. 2 supplemental Platinum cards arrived along with £170 charged to the main card, both supps were in the same name and both had PP. Took a few calls to Amex to work out which PP card belonged to which supp so I could dispose of the correct one!

  • Vinz says:

    Rob i have to correct you.
    I added my brother to my plat account as a gold cardholder and I got 5,000 bonus points…

    • Vinz says:

      And I added another brother as green card holder and voila, an extra 5,000 points have appeared. 🙂