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There’s no denying that travel rewards cards offer some pretty amazing benefits — from annual travel fee credits and luxurious airport lounge access to cell phone protection and primary rental car insurance. While some of these perks are incredibly lucrative, at the end of the day issuers are running businesses, and these fancy extras are meant to secure your business as a cardholder rather than to gift you with tons of freebies “just because.”
But while there may be a limit to card issuers’ generosity, our imagination knows no bounds. TPG editors and contributors put together a wish list of the credit card perks we’re hoping for — but aren’t exactly expecting to see any time soon:
Holding an airline-branded credit card can improve your travel experience ever so slightly, with modest perks like priority boarding and a few lounge passes per year. If issuers and carriers really wanted to win our loyalty, though, they could up the ante with better earning rates, free amenities on board and more:
- Guaranteed priority economy seating — or at least the opportunity to select an aisle or window seat in advance
- Waived change fees — maybe 1-2 times per year on the lower-end cards like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard and the United MileagePlus Explorer Card, but unlimited on the premium versions
- Free in-flight Wi-Fi
- First-class upgrade certificates
- 3x points/miles on all airline purchases — rather than the 2x we see with virtually all airline co-brand cards
The top hotel co-branded cards offer generous sign-up bonuses that get you free nights at high-end properties, and the more premium options even get you on-property benefits like a $100 credit for paid stays of two nights or longer with the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. But there’s still plenty of room for improvement:
- Free Uber to and from airport
- A complimentary spa treatment on all stays
- Waived resort fees
- Free dinner — not just breakfast for elite members
- Free laundry up to $50 per stay
Other Travel Rewards Cards
Cards that fall into this last category are some of the most valuable options on the market, thanks to annual travel credits and unique features like the 4th Night Free benefit on the Citi Prestige Card. That’s not to say they couldn’t look a whole lot better, though:
- Waived minimum-balance requirements for accounts with the issuing bank
- Express checkout lane at select grocery stores for credit cards that offer grocery stores as a bonus category — would be useful for Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s lines in the city!
- Full card benefits extended to one authorized user
- Charity matching — for example, an issuer will match your spend dollar for dollar and donate that money to a charity of your choice up to $5,000 a month if you spend $10,000 in the first month
- Basic medical insurance for travel abroad
- Access to business centers such as Regus and WeWork
- Discounts with select merchants when paying with the card
What benefits — realistic or not — would you most like to see on travel rewards credit cards?
Featured image courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles.
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