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Although I personally prefer to use my points and miles for premium travel, going to the Grammy’s this past weekend made me reconsider when it might be a worthwhile idea to use points for experiences like when I considered redeeming points to attend the Conde Nast Visionaries Gala last fall (I ended up paying instead of using points).
No one is saying the per-point value you get from these redemptions is lucrative (in fact they’re usually around the 1 cent per point mark if you’re lucky), but as sponsors of some awesome events, credit card companies can throw in exclusive perks such as pre-concert seat and backstage access, celebrity meet-and-greets and more.
As with with all miles and points-related redemptions, you need to calculate the value of your points and see if a particular redemption makes sense for you. If, for example, redeeming for one of these experiences would get you to your favorite rockstar’s concert or into a movie screening you’ve been dying to attend, then go for it! Heck, some of them are even complimentary – you get in just for having the card.
Just promise me you won’t use your points to buy a coffeemaker or something mundane like that – the points of points is about enriching your life, and if these experiences do that for you, then they’re worth it.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the experience redemptions out there at the moment:
Citi Private Pass is an entertainment access program for eligible Citi credit cardmembers and Citibank debit card customers, offering access to different entertainment events and experiences. Citi cardmembers can purchase presale tickets, preferred tickets, and VIP packages to concerts and shows, as well as access to a wide variety of experiences in categories such as dining, golf, nightclubs, shopping and family entertainment.
In addition there are several complimentary ticket offerings for Citi cardholders.
The New York Times Presents ‘TimesTalks’ with Jessica Chastain Price: Complimentary
Citi cardmembers can join The New York Times for one of their acclaimed ‘TimesTalks’ speaker series held in Los Angeles with Jessica Chastain, Academy Award-nominated star of the film “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Soundgarden Price: Complimentary
Experience Soundgarden on Sunday, February 17th in Los Angeles, CA. Extremely limited availability.
To RSVP: redeem this complimentary offer, email email@example.com and provide the following information:
First and Last Name
First 6 Digits of Citi credit card or Citibank Debit Mastercard card
L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival Price: $300 (Exclusive VIP Package)
- One (1) VIP festival pass (includes access to all four days and nights of screenings, parties**, receptions** and panels)
- Reserved premium seating for one (1) at the theater
- VIP seating for one (1) with the awards presenters (comedy celebs from TV and Film) at the Red Carpet Gala
- Red Carpet Experience – walk the red carpet
- Meet and Greet with celebrity panelists
- Access to the VIP/Filmmaker lounge with complimentary Happy Hour cocktails**
- One (1) VIP gift bag including samples and giveaways
SPG Moments is an exclusive program for members of SPG in which Starpoints can be transformed into one-of-a-kind experiences. SPG members may redeem for a variety of auctions including music, sports, and the arts, so check out SPG Moments frequently as the auctions are always changing.
VIP Day at Sea World San Diego with Jack Hanna Starting Bid 1,000 SPG points
- Four (4) tickets to SeaWorld San Diego on March 23, 2013
- Four (4) tickets for the Dolphin Interaction program
- Reserved seats at Jack Hanna’s in-park show
- A meet and greet with Jack Hanna following the show
- Complimentary meals
Premiere Night of KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil Starting Bid 5,000 SPG points
- Two (2) VIP ROUGE tickets to the Premiere Night of KOOZA by Cirque du Soleil in Madrid, Spain, on Friday, March 1, 2013, at 8:30 p.m.
- Access for two (2) to the VIP ROUGE experience, a one-hour pre-show hospitality event including drinks and finger food in the VIP ROUGE tent.
- A one-night (1-night) stay for two (2), including breakfast, at The Westin Palace, Madrid.
- Transfer to and from the show.
Vienna Filmball Tickets and Deluxe Stay at Hotel Bristol Starting Bid 5,000 SPG points
- One (1) night at Hotel Bristol, Vienna, checking in on Friday, March 15, and checking out on Saturday, March 16, 2013
- Two (2) VIP tickets to the black-tie Vienna Filmball at Vienna City Hall, including red carpet walk, champagne reception, seated dinner, awards ceremony and ball on Friday, March 15, 2013
- Breakfast for two (2) prior to departure on Saturday, March 16, 2013
- One (1) Insider Guide Book to explore Vienna
Chicago Bulls VIP Experience Price: $1,000
Come to the United Center this season and receive VIP treatment with the Chicago Bulls! Select dates only. On sale: Now – Thu, 04/04/13.
You and a guest will receive:
– Two passes to watch pre-game warm-ups
– A welcome message on the jumbotron
– Two customized Bulls Replica Jerseys
– Two 100-level tickets
– A photo from the game to commemorate your experience
Presale: Wed, 02/06/13, 12PM ET – Thu, 02/14/13, 10PM ET
Get tickets before the general public to see Fun. with special guest Tegan and Sara.
The experiences redemptions available through Chase Ultimate Rewards include everything from flying lessons and scuba diving to museum tours, boat rides and chocolate tastings.
To find these Exclusives experiences, when you log in to the Ultimate Rewards portal and click on the Experiences tab across the top, you’ll have the choice of selecting experiences by category such as Arts & Entertainment or Sports & Leisure. If you just click on the Experiences tab, though, you’ll see images for Exclusives experiences available on the next page, including some of these:
Exclusive New York Jets Culinary Tasting Event: Price 25,000 points
This Experience for Two includes:
- A walk on the “green carpet” leading to The Green Room
- A meet-and-greet and photo opportunity with former New York Jets Wide Receiver Wayne Chrebet and the Jets Flight Crew
- A deluxe tasting menu prepared by celebrity Executive Chef Aaron Sanchez
- Complementary wine tastings with introductions and pairing notes by sommeliers
- A commemorative football signed by the evening’s celebrities for each guest
- A bottle of wine that was enjoyed during the evening for each guest
Pike Place Market Food Tour, Seattle: Price 6,900 points or $69
Your Experience for Two includes:
- A guided food tour of Pike Place Market
- Eight culinary tastings as local shops, eateries and food purveyors
- A discount card for 10–15% off future purchases at local vendors and shops
While some of these can be good deals such as the SPG concert tickets for only 5,000 Starpoints, others are horrible. When looking, just make sure it makes sense to redeem for an experience or if it is better to hold your miles to redeem an award ticket that is a better value for you. Most of these sites are updated often with new auctions, so keep checking back if you don’t see something you like now. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.