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We spend a lot of time talking about earning points and miles on travel rewards credit cards here at TPG. Whether you’re utilizing limited-time sign-up bonuses or taking advantage of bonus categories for everyday spending, these cards are a great way to unlock fantastic redemptions like first-class flights and luxurious hotel rooms. However, they can also open up an array of other benefits, and some sound almost too good to be true, so today I want to go through seven unique credit card perks to which you can gain access just by opening a new account.
1. Free Golf
The first benefit is unique to the Citi Prestige Card and is a great option for any golfers out there. Every calendar year, you can get three free rounds of golf at over 2,000 courses around the world. To utilize this perk, you’ll need to book your round through the Golf Switch website and can only have one round reserved at a time. You also must make the reservation at least three days in advance and pay for the round with your Citi Prestige Card, but if you have a course near your home (or will be visiting an area with an eligible course), this can be a nice way to save some money.
Unfortunately, this benefit is being removed as of July 23, 2017, so you only have a limited time to take advantage of it. Remember too that this is a calendar year benefit, so you can still get three free rounds through the end of 2016 plus another three in the first half of 2017.
2. Free Museum Entrance
Another unique credit card perk comes from Bank of America. If you hold any of the issuer’s credit cards, you can gain access to over 150 museums across the US for free on the first full weekend every month. All you need to do is show your Bank of America-issued credit card and photo ID, and while you aren’t able to bring in guests, most reports I’ve read indicate that authorized users are also eligible. While the issuer’s lineup isn’t nearly as attractive as others, there are still a few cards that can be attractive to a points and miles enthusiast, especially the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature credit card thanks to its annual companion fare benefit.
3. Complimentary ShopRunner Membership
As the holidays approach, the need for last-minute gifts climbs quickly, but those rush shipping fees can add up. Fortunately, if you carry an eligible consumer or small-business American Express card (like the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express), you can get a free ShopRunner membership. This gives you free two-day shipping and free return shipping at more than 140 stores, including Kate Spade, Neiman Marcus and Ralph Lauren. To activate this benefit, simply visit the ShopRunner American Express page, click on Get Started, enroll in ShopRunner and then add your card. This may not be the most exciting benefit out there, but it can definitely save you some cash when you need an item ASAP.
4. Price Protection
Another great perk to save you cash is the price protection offered on a select handful of credit cards. Put simply, these programs allow you to obtain a refund on an eligible purchase when the price of the item drops within a specified timeframe after your purchase (generally 60 to 90 days). I’ve written in-depth about the Citi Price Rewind program on cards like the Citi Double Cash Card, a benefit that saved consumers more than $2 million in 2015 alone. However, there are other cards that offer similar programs as well. For example, both the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offer price protection for up to $500 per item and $2,500 per year when a lower price is advertised in print or online within 90 days of purchase, and you’ll see a similar program on virtually all Discover cards. While not a reason to get a card in and of itself, these perks can definitely be worth exploring.
5. $100 Airfare Discount Through Visa Infinite
Earlier this year, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card was updated with new perks, and one of the changes was a shift from being a Visa Signature to a Visa Infinite card. One of the most intriguing benefits of Visa Infinite is the $100 airfare discount on eligible flights. As a Ritz-Carlton cardholder, you can book a round-trip domestic flight for two to five passengers (including you) and receive $100 off the tickets by purchasing through the Visa Discount Air Benefit website and using your Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card for the purchase. Even better? There’s no limit to the number of times you can use this perk in a year! Just a handful of times will cover the $450 annual fee, and if you regularly travel with a companion and typically purchase your airfare together, the savings can really add up. This perk is also extended to authorized users, which are free to add.
6. Fourth Night Free
Another unique credit card perk is yet again specific to the Citi Prestige Card: the well-known 4th Night Free benefit. This perk allows you to book a stay of four nights or longer and receive the fourth night free (though this is changing to be the average of your four nights and will exclude taxes starting in July 2017). Like the aforementioned airfare discount on a Visa Infinite card, there’s no limit to the number of times you can use this perk. I actually had two consecutive four-night stays earlier this year at the Andaz Maui and Andaz San Diego and was able to use the benefit at both properties, saving me over $600 on a single vacation (though this has nothing on TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig and his nearly $1,500 discount from last year).
The benefit even works on discounted rates like AAA and AARP (though typically not government rates), and you can also use Hyatt Suite Upgrades on these reservations. The only drawback is that you have to book these rooms through Citi’s concierge service rather than online, so the process can be a bit time-consuming (though it was improved earlier this year). Despite this inconvenience, this perk can be one of the most lucrative ones out there.
7. Free Gifts
The final perk I’ll highlight carries a bit of mystique, as it applies to the recently rebranded luxury cards from Barclaycard: the Mastercard Gold Card and the Mastercard Black Card. As part of the cards’ concierge service, cardholders can expect luxury gifts “from of the world’s most iconic and recognized brand names” throughout their membership. The biggest drawback here is that you’ll never know how many gifts you’ll get in a year nor how useful or valuable those gifts will be. As a result, there’s no way to know how much of the cards’ hefty annual fees will be offset by these gifts.
Nevertheless, receiving random gifts in the mail just for being a cardmember is a nice perk, and I kind of wish others offered something similar!
The top travel rewards credit cards give you terrific earning and redemption opportunities, but many of them provide perks that go beyond this simple “earn and burn” calculus. While the benefits I include above may not be the deciding factor when it comes to applying for a new card, they can nevertheless make your card membership that much more rewarding. Hopefully this post has enlightened at least some readers who may have one or more of the cards mentioned above!
What are the most unique or unusual credit card perks you’ve come across?
Featured image courtesy of Amanpulo in Palawan, Philippines.
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