9 unique credit card benefits you won’t find elsewhere
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There’s a good chance that your credit card has some valuable benefits you might not know about. Most cards come with additional features like extended warranties, zero liability and identify theft protections, free credit monitoring, and even roadside assistance. These benefits sometimes fly well under the radar of the more popular options like no foreign transaction fees or a credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fees.
But some credit cards go even further, offering unique perks that are hard to find anywhere else. Here are nine of these unique credit card perks you may not know about.
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Free museum entry
Bank of America credit and debit cards offer access to more than 225 museums across the U.S. for free on the first full weekend of every month under the Museums on Us program. All you need to do is show your Bank of America-issued card and photo ID. You aren’t able to get guests in for free, but most reports I’ve read indicate that authorized users are also eligible. This deal excludes special exhibitions, ticketed shows and fundraising events. Facilities available to cardholders include New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Orlando Science Center.
While some museums temporarily closed in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, most have reopened. However, many are operating at reduced hours, and you’ll likely encounter adjusted admission policies — including a requirement to provide proof of vaccination upon entry.
As a result, you’ll want to locate and select a museum using their map, then click “Partner site” to review that museum’s policies and protocols.
Check out our guide to the best Bank of America cards.
Free two-day shipping
Whether you need quick delivery for a last-minute gift or just want to avoid extra shipping costs for your online purchases, you can get free two-day shipping and free return shipping with a complimentary ShopRunner membership if you have an eligible World Mastercard, World Elite Mastercard or American Express card.
More than 100 stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Kate Spade, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Kiehl’s, are part of ShopRunner. And you can often combine this benefit with other strategies to save, including:
- Using an online shopping portals.
- Saving money or earning bonus points with Amex Offers and Chase Offers.
- Utilizing the up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue statement credit for holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express.
To activate this benefit, visit your card issuer’s enrollment page, enter your email address, click on “Enroll for Free” and enter your personal details and card information. This may not be the most exciting benefit out there, but it can definitely save you cash when you need an item delivered ASAP. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Cell phone protection
Cell phone protection gives you some peace of mind, because it can cover you in the event your phone is ever damaged or stolen. Some people pay for this through their wireless carrier or a third-party insurance company. But this can sometimes cost $100 or more per year.
Fortunately, the number of credit cards that offer cell phone protection has grown in recent years, though it’s still not a standard perk for the average cardmember. To take advantage of this, you’ll typically need to pay at least part of your cell phone bill using the credit card — though in some cases, you need to pay the entire bill for the benefit to apply.
It’s also important to note that many cell phone protection plans on credit cards won’t entirely cover those top-tier phones that cost upwards of $800 or $1,000. Many of the credit cards that offer this coverage will only cover up to $600 per claim — though the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card has cell phone protection worth up to $800 per claim.
Instant credit card number
Having instant access to credit can sometimes be a much-needed perk. This is especially true for people who face an emergency expense and don’t have enough saved up to cover it. Unfortunately, once you’re approved for a credit card, most major credit card issuers make you wait until your credit card arrives in the mail before you can start using it. That can often take 7 to 10 days, if not longer.
However, some credit cards let eligible cardmembers whose identities can be quickly authenticated begin making purchases immediately upon approval. The few major issuers that offer this feature typically only do it on a limited number of their credit cards. But American Express makes this feature available on most consumer card products. This includes the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express as well as the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.
Frequent travelers can earn plenty of discounts and cash back rewards when they use travel credit cards. But the right credit card will come with even more perks — and may even allow you to bring a companion for a fraction of the cost of a second ticket.
One of the best hidden gems is the Delta companion certificate. This perk comes every year you renew select Delta cards like the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. You still have to pay taxes and fees, but it’s a small price to pay to score a free round-trip domestic flight for a companion.
A similar perk is available on the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card. As part of the card’s welcome offer (and then provided each year when you renew), you’ll receive a companion fare, which allows a friend, family member or loved one to come along with you for just $99 (plus taxes and fees).
These unique flight perks aren’t reserved just for airline credit cards. If you prefer a more well-rounded credit card, both The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express come with an airline fee credit of up to $200 every year. This counts toward incidental airline fees charged on the card at one qualifying airline.
Hotel upgrades and complimentary perks
Hotel-branded credit cards come with a decent amount of perks. These could include room upgrades, complimentary meals or a free hotel night on a cardmember’s anniversary. But the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase takes things a step further, as the card offers a fourth night reward on award stays of three or more consecutive nights.
There’s no limit to this benefit — you can even book an eight-night stay and get both the fourth and eighth nights free. It’s incredibly easy to use: Once you open the card, the discount will automatically be applied when you make a reservation with points from your linked IHG Rewards account.
If you want more flexibility in where you stay, you’ll find plenty of premium benefits with the Amex Platinum Card and Business Platinum Card. Both provide automatic Gold status with Hilton and Marriott along with access to the American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts program. This includes valuable perks like a room upgrade if available and a free daily breakfast for two. And for holders of the personal Amex Platinum, you’ll enjoy up to $200 in annual statement credits for prepaid bookings at FHR properties.
Lounge access with VIP perks
Whether you travel for business or leisure, airport lounge access offers a chance to escape the often hectic bustle of the airport. There, you can clean up, eat, rest, or enjoy the many complimentary amenities that help make any journey more relaxed.
Depending on the location and the credit card you use, there’s no telling what VIP perks you’ll find: Food created by renowned local chefs, family areas, shower suites, or even complimentary spa treatments that include a massage.
Plenty of travel rewards credit cards provide some level of lounge access. For example, both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card offer access to airport lounges in the Priority Pass network. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
But with the Amex Platinum Card or Business Platinum Card, you’ll have access to Amex’s Global Lounge Collection – more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries. This includes complimentary entry into Amex’s Centurion lounges as well as access to other lounge networks like Delta Sky Club lounges and lounges in the Priority Pass network. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Note that other card issuers are stepping up their lounge game as well. Chase is slated to open several new lounges in the coming years, while Capital One opened its first lounge in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) in Oct. 2021 — and has additional locations on the way in Denver (DEN) and Washington-Dulles (IAD).
The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a $155 Walmart+ credit. This perk has the potential to make life a little bit easier for a lot of households. With a Walmart+ membership, you can have your Walmart groceries delivered to you for free on the same day you place your order. You also get free shipping without having to worry about minimum orders on items shipped by Walmart.
Just keep in mind that this perk is only for a monthly membership. If you try to purchase the yearly subscription of $98, you’ll miss out on the credit.
If you have a World Elite Mastercard, you’re eligible for special discounts and promotions with these popular services. The best part about these discounts is that you don’t have to register for these offers or go through a special link — just use your World Elite Mastercard to pay and the promotion will be applied to your account automatically.
- DoorDash offers three free months of DashPass (renews at $9.99 per month after free trial) and $5 off your first two orders every month until September 30, 2022.
- Lyft will give you a $5 ride credit (valid for 30 days) after you pay for three rides in a calendar month.
- Fandango lets you earn $5 toward a future purchase for every two tickets you buy.
Planning a trip to wine country? Visa Signature and Visa Infinite cardholders get exclusive benefits at more than 50 Sonoma County wineries, including a complimentary wine tasting when you buy one of equal or greater value. You also get preferred pricing on non-wine purchases over $50, special wine and food pairings, and savings on same-day wine purchases and reserve tastings. Benefits at each winery vary, so do your research before planning a trip.
There’s a good chance that a card that’s already in your wallet has a benefit that you don’t know about. And when you’re considering a new credit card, make sure to take a look at all of the features and benefits when you are comparing cards.
Additional reporting by Caroline Lupini and Robert Thorpe.
Featured photo courtesy of Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.
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