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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature Card, Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Expedia+ Voyager Card from Citi
Fall is in the air, and the holiday season is fast approaching. For travel rewards enthusiasts, this means it’s time to consider which credit card benefits they need to use or secure before they expire on December 31. TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Jason Steele walks you through, card by card, below.
There are two kinds of annual credit card perks: ones that start and end along with the calendar year, and those that are based on your cardmember year. So while each credit card will have a different anniversary of account opening, many benefits expire at the end of December regardless of when you first signed up.
I’ve gone through all of the cards from the major issuers to compile this list of credit card perks, such as airline credits and elite status, that will end along with 2015. In other words, use ’em or loose ’em. Whether or not you take advantage of all the below benefits, though, note that they’ll become available again on January 1, 2016.
$200 airline fee credit — Each calendar year, this card offers up to $200 in statement credits toward airline fees, such as checked bags, in-flight food and beverages, seat selection, change fees and airport lounge access. Airline purchases, such as tickets and upgrades to a different class of service, are excluded. To utilize this benefit, you must first select a single airline to which these credits will be applied.
Gogo inflight internet passes — As of 2015, Business Platinum Card holders get 10 annual Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes. Unfortunately, these are segment passes rather than day passes, meaning they’re only valid for a single flight. If you have any left at this point, though, you might as well use them up on shorter flights or use one on your mobile phone and one on your laptop or tablet.
$200 airline fee credit — The business version of this card offers the same $200 airline fee credit as the personal Platinum Card.
$100 airline fee credit — Like the Platinum cards, this card offers statement credits toward airline fees, but only $100 (rather than $200) each calendar year.
2x points at US supermarkets — This card offers 2x Membership Rewards points on up to $6,000 spent at US supermarkets each calendar year, so you might want to consider using it up before the end of the year. And if you complete 20 or more transactions within the same statement period, you’ll receive a 20% points bonus, and earn 2.4x points. For more information about how this works, read my post, The Complicated Way Amex Awards Membership Rewards Points.
Amex EveryDay Preferred
3x points at US supermarkets — Like the standard Amex EveryDay card, the EveryDay Preferred offers additional Membership Rewards points on up to $6,000 spent at US supermarkets each calendar year. But in this case, it’s 3x (instead of 2x) with a 50% bonus when you complete 30 or more transactions within the same statement period, for a total of 4.5x points.
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express and Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
Annual miles boost — This feature allows you to earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) (which also count as 10,000 bonus miles) after you spend $25,000 on purchases on your card within a calendar year. You can also earn an additional 10,000 MQMs (and 10,000 bonus miles) after reaching $50,000 in annual purchases during a calendar year.
Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card (Personal and Business)
Annual miles boost — Like the SkyMiles Platinum card, this card offers you the rare opportunity to earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) based on your spending. You can earn 15,000 MQMs (which also count bonus miles) after you spend $30,000 on purchases on your card within a calendar year, and an additional 15,000 MQMs (and bonus miles) after making $60,000 in annual purchases within a calendar year. By itself, this is enough to reach Silver Medallion status, and can vault existing Medallion members to the next level of elite status. For more information on the value of this status, see my post, What Is Delta Air Lines Medallion Elite Status Worth?
4th quarter bonus categories — While this is a quarterly benefit and not an annual one, Freedom cardholders should take advantage of the rotating bonus categories that earn 5x points on up to $1,500 spent during the quarter. The bonus categories for this quarter can be viewed here at Chase Sapphire Preferred. To learn how to use your rewards from Chase’s Freedom card for travel rewards, read my post, Maximizing Ultimate Rewards with Chase Freedom, Sapphire and Ink Plus.
Tier qualifying points — You can reach A-List and A-List Preferred status faster by earning 1,500 Tier-Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases you make with your card. There’s an annual limit of 15,000 Tier-Qualifying Points that you can earn per card.
10,000 bonus miles — You can earn 10,000 bonus miles every calendar year that you spend at least $25,000 on your card.
Travel together ticket — Each calendar year you use this card to make $30,000 in purchases, you’ll earn a Travel Together Ticket, which is valid for two years. This ticket allows you to redeem your Avios points for a companion traveling on the same route, but you do have to pay additional taxes, fees and fuel surcharges. To see how this benefit can work in practice, read TPG’s account, Using the British Airways Visa Travel Together Ticket to Paris.
Annual travel credit — This card offers a $300 travel credit each calendar year, and it can be used for just about any airline charge except tickets. Eligible charges include baggage fees, seat upgrades, airport lounge passes and change fees. In addition, you can also use this to cover the $100 Global Entry application fee.
Three upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton Club Level — Cardholders receive three upgrades to the Club Level that they can use for paid stays.
$250 air travel credit — Citi offers cardholders $250 in statement credits each year toward any airline charges. And unlike similar credits from American Express and Chase, this benefit even covers ticket purchases. For more information, see my post, How Citi Prestige Can Save You $250 on Airfare Every Year.
10% of your redeemed miles back — You can receive a 10% rebate of your redeemed miles back, with a limit of 10,000 miles each calendar year. So if you were planning on redeeming miles for an award and haven’t reached the limit yet, it might make sense to do so before the end of the year.
10,000 elite-qualifying miles —You can earn these miles each calendar year when you spend $40,000.
Expedia + Voyager Card
$100 annual air travel fee credit — This card offers a $100 fee credit that works differently than the Citi Prestige card. You’ll receive up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year, but it’s based on your January through December billing statements. The credits count toward travel purchases, including airline fees on 10 qualifying carriers and two wireless hotspot providers, as well as the application fees for Global Entry and TSA Precheck.
Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card
Hilton HHonors Gold status — You’ll be upgraded to HHonors Gold status when you make $20,000 or more in purchases within a calendar year.
10,000 Hilton HHonors bonus points — You can earn this bonus each calendar year when you spend $1,000 or more on stays within the Hilton Portfolio. So if you’re short of this threshold, another stay before year’s end can help you to reach it.
Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card
HHonors Diamond status — You can earn the brand’s top-tier status when you use this card to make $40,000 in purchases during a calendar year.
Are there any credit card perks you’re hoping to use before the end of the year?
It's a stellar cash back card on its own, but when paired with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Freedom's 5x Category Bonuses let you rack up Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, transferrable to partners or redeemable via the portal.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
- Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
- Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
- No annual fee