Ask Finder: Can you set a separate credit limit for an additional cardholder?

Posted: 29 May 2019 12:29 pm

A mother and daughter smiling at each other while shopping online.

If you want to share your credit card account with someone, will they be able to spend as much as you?

Dear Finder,
My teenage daughter is going overseas on a school trip soon and I want to make sure she has access to money in case of an emergency. If I add her as an additional cardholder on my credit card account, would it be possible to set a different credit limit for her?
Traveller's Mum

This is an important question for anyone thinking of sharing a credit card account with someone. Unfortunately, in this case, your daughter would be able to spend up to the available credit limit as an additional cardholder.

But if you have a card that allows you to limit certain types of transactions, you may be able to set custom spending limits for the account while she's overseas. For example, you can set limits for international transactions on a CommBank credit card via NetBank or the CommBank App, while HSBC's My Card Controls lets you set a limit per transaction amount.

With both these options, the limits you set would apply to both you and your daughter, as well as any other cardholders linked to the account.

Are there any cards that offer separate limits for additional cardholders?

While there are business credit cards that offer customisable limits for employees with additional cards, these accounts are designed for business spending.

With personal credit cards, when you add an additional cardholder, you give permission for them to use and access the same account features as you. This includes your full credit limit (although they are unable to request a change to the limit).

Credit card providers specify these details in their conditions of use, as well as on the additional cardholder application. ANZ, for example, notes that "no separate limit applies" if more than one card is issued for your account. Meanwhile, Westpac states:

"Remember, the credit limit applies to the Card Account – there is not a separate credit limit for the additional Card issued on the Card Account."

NAB also confirmed that additional cardholders have access to the primary cardholder's credit limit, while CommBank's application for additional cardholders has a statement that says "any transactions the additional cardholder makes" will be charged to your account, meaning the limit on your account also applies to them.

As well as the credit limit, make sure you think about the following factors when you're looking at adding someone to your credit card account:

  • Age requirements. Additional cardholders typically need to be at least 16 years old.
  • Transaction details. Most credit card issuers note that additional cardholders can check the account balance and transaction history through their own Internet or phone banking account. Be aware of this if you want to keep your own spending private.
  • Lost cards and fraud. If an additional cardholder reports their card as lost or stolen – or if they notice suspicious activity – both of you may be issued with new cards to make sure the account is secure.
  • Rewards points. If you have a rewards credit card, your additional cardholder can help boost your point balance by earning points per $1 on their eligible purchases.
  • Complimentary benefits. Perks like airport lounge passes and complimentary travel insurance are usually only available to the primary cardholder and guests travelling with them. However, there are some exceptions so you should read the product disclosure statement carefully.

Also keep in mind that, while an additional cardholder can charge purchases to your account, being the primary cardholder means you are legally responsible for all transactions and repayments. So it's up to you to discuss how the account is managed with anyone you add as an additional cardholder.

Ask Finder is a regular column where Finder's expert writers answer your questions. All rates and fees are correct at the time of publication and we only give general advice.

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