VIP events access is back: Here’s how to unlock it with your credit cards
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
Among the many things that fell by the wayside during the pandemic were live sports, entertainment and live events — along with the access and VIP benefits some cardholders enjoyed.
Some card issuers tried to use virtual events — such as American Express’s sponsorship of the play “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg: The Life and Times of The Temptations” — to pick up the slack. But to quote a song, there “Ain’t Nothin Like the Real Thing” — which is why the return of live experiences this year is so welcome.
As savvy cardholders know, there’s a lot more to the best rewards credit cards than just the rewards you earn through spending. In fact, as premium credit cards continue to rise in popularity (and in cost), issuers are focusing more and more on providing cardholders with ancillary benefits that provide heightened experiences beyond just free flights or hotel stays.
Today, we’ll walk through the credit card issuers and programs that can help you access some of these VIP experiences for yourself.
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There are three levels of VIP event access offered by American Express cards: Preferred Seating, Experiences and By Invitation Only.
All American Express cardmembers receive Entertainment Access benefits that include ticket presales and cardmember-only events in select cities. Examples of events at this level include New York musicals such as Hamilton and Come From Away and the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in Los Angeles and New York City.
Even though Entertainment Access is available for all cardholders, certain events may require you to have a more premium card to unlock ticket presales.
More premium American Express cards have access to special seating at certain events through the American Express Preferred Seating program. This benefit is available on the following Amex branded and cobranded cards:
- American Express® Gold Card
- American Express® Business Gold Card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum® Card From American Express
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- American Express Centurion cards
- Platinum and Gold Corporate Cards
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Also, don’t forget about Amex’s partnership with Resy through the Global Dining Access program that offers members “exclusive reservations, priority notification, early access to special experiences and a VIP Diner Badge.”
Capital One Experiences
All Capital One cardholders enjoy the benefits available through Capital One Access. These benefits include presale tickets and VIP packages for certain events, special on-site perks (such as early and priority entry, celebrity meet-and-greets and VIP lounges) and features that allow cardholders to upgrade experiences at events.
There are lots of upcoming events to choose from, but notably, cardholders have presale ticket access to the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami on Dec. 31, 2021. The stadium ticket package comes with one stadium seat ticket, a $20 merchandise voucher, a game program and a parking pass.
The issuer is kicking off the college football championship by hosting a free concert with Harry Styles and Khalid in Lummus Park, located at South Beach in Miami, on Dec. 30, 2021. Capital One cardholders get first dibs on tickets that go on sale Dec. 20, through this exclusive link.
Capital One offers most of its VIP experiences through events where the bank is a sponsor. The yearlong Taste America series, for example, brings exciting culinary events from the James Beard Foundation to 20 cities across the country, including benefit dinners featuring visiting and local all-star chefs and cocktail parties that showcase stellar beverages and talented mixologists. Cardholders can get exclusive presale ticket access to Benefit Dinners, Pop-Up Dinners, and Raising the Bar events, along with the chance to buy the Capital One Access Pass to Benefit Dinners, including special on-site perks.
The Capital One Arena is Washington, D.C.’s premier event venue that pre-pandemic held more than 230 concerts and events a year. It is home to the Washington Capitals National Hockey League team and the Washington Wizards National Basketball Association team. Cardholders have access to a VIP entrance for Washington Capitals and Wizards games, a free one-year Monumental Sports Network VIP Membership and discounts on game tickets, merchandise, food and beverages at the arena.
Capital One has a partnership with OpenTable to help cardholders score hard-to-get reservations in select cities across the U.S. There are also a number of other culinary-focused events held throughout the year that you can find on Capital One’s website.
Chase Experiences and VIP access
There are different levels of Chase Experiences available to cardholders depending on which product they have. These experiences can be paid for with cash or points, but Chase only credits you with 1 cent in value per point redeemed, which generally isn’t the best use of your Ultimate Rewards points.
Chase also has a partnership with culinary reservation platform Tock, which gives those with cards including the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card the ability to book VIP culinary events (alongside standard reservations) through the Ultimate Rewards section in the Chase mobile app. Restaurants include The Aviary in Chicago, Seven Reasons in Washington, D.C., and the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.
Select Experiences are available to all Chase credit and debit cardmembers, and the program includes perks such as access to Preferred Seating from Ticketmaster. To access these seats, go to the Ticketmaster site, and under “Filter,” make sure “Chase Cardmember Preferred Seating” is one of the checkboxes marked under Ticket Type. Purchase available tickets with your Chase card. Cardmembers also receive access to the Chase lounge at select venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York and The Chicago Theater.
Keep in mind that only certain events on Ticketmaster are part of the Chase Select Experiences program. I find it easier to look at what Chase puts on their site before checking Ticketmaster to know which events are included.
Related: Best Chase credit cards of 2021
Citi cardholders have access to the Citi Entertainment program, which offers presale access to tickets, preferred seating and VIP packages for sports, entertainment and dining events. Current entertainment offers include tickets and packages for Lady A, Billy Joel, The Strokes and more. It also includes discount tickets for the Genesis Invitational, Presidents Cup and more as we look ahead to 2022.
Related: Best Citi credit cards of 2021
Mastercard Priceless Cities
If you have any card that’s part of the Mastercard payment network, you can utilize the Priceless Cities program to purchase VIP experiences in select cities around the world. Book seats for Brazilian dining and drinks at the Priceless restaurant in São Paulo, tour Brooklyn’s best street art with a local graffiti artist and so much more.
Those with Visa Signature and Infinite cards have access to VIP experiences that vary depending on the cobranded card.
For example, the card issuer has partnered with Sonoma County Vintners to offer year-round benefits and exclusive access at more than 50 wineries. Pay only $1 for ground shipping at participating wineries when you buy three or more bottles and use your Visa card with the code VISA2021 at checkout.
Other perks of the winery program include:
- Purchase one standard tasting using a Visa Signature or Visa Infinite card and receive one complimentary tasting of equal or lesser value.
- Preferred pricing on non-wine purchases over $50, where applicable.
- Savings on wine purchased the same day in a tasting room.
- Savings on Reserve tasting or special wine and food pairings.
Visa Infinite and U.S. Visa Signature cardholders also are eligible to receive accelerated rewards through Troon Rewards, which offers special pricing on merchandise and golf fees at 96 participating resorts and daily fee courses worldwide. Visa Infinite cardholders can also get exclusive access to more than 15 private clubs in Troon’s portfolio, and receive world-class celebrity chef and winemaker experiences with the card.
A lot goes into a decision to apply for a credit card — the welcome bonus, earning rates, travel benefits and more. But something else to consider are the experiences your credit card can unlock, whether that means pre-sale tickets to your favorite band, behind-the-scenes access at Broadway shows or cardholder-exclusive events around the world.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Jason Steele.
Featured photo by MFlashpop/Getty Images.
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