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VIP events access is back: Here’s how to unlock it with your credit cards

July 21, 2022
10 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.

One of the biggest cultural shifts during the pandemic was not going to live events. While many companies and credit card issuers offered virtual events, we know that the experience just isn't the same. The return of in-person theater, sports and music has been a welcome change for many over the past year.

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.

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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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American Express

All American Express cardmembers receive Entertainment Access benefits (the program title that encompasses all other benefits) that include ticket presales and cardmember-only events in select cities. Examples of events at this level include Broadway musicals such as Hamilton and Come From Away and the Immersive Frida Kahlo exhibit in Los Angeles. There are also virtual experiences, which are available on a rotating basis.

(Photo by Matthew Murphy)
All Amex cards offer Entertainment Access, which can give you presale tickets to popular Broadway plays such as “Come From Away.”  (Photo by Matthew Murphy)

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:

The information for the Hilton Aspire 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.

On the more exclusive side, "By Invitation Only" events are as they sound: you'll need an invitation. Current offers I see include the Bullet Train film premiere in Los Angeles, advance screenings for this film in other locations and 2023 Wimbledon VIP packages. What you see may be different, since these are targeted invitations.

The Amex Gold Resy Picnic in August of 2021. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

Related: Best American Express credit cards of 2022

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.”

Finally, Amex has also featured suites and lounges at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon in the past, which might return in the future.

Capital One Entertainment

All Capital One cardholders enjoy the benefits available through Capital One Entertainment. 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 or purchase tickets using their Capital One miles, including sports, music, theater and more.

There are lots of upcoming events to choose from, including a cardholder exclusive: the MLH Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Cardholders also can have presale ticket access to the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami on Dec. 30, 2022. The issuer is promising exclusive packages and perks for cardholders at the Orange Bowl, but details are not yet available.

The kick-off of the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America series, presented by partner Capital One. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for James Beard Foundation)

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. 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.

Related: Best Capital One credit cards of 2022

Chase Experiences and VIP access

Chase cardholders can visit the new Chase Lounge at Madison Square Garden for complimentary snacks and soft drinks. (Photo by aluxum/Getty Images)

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 Greens on the Rooftop at Pier 17 in New York, Seven Reasons in Washington, D.C. and the Protégé in Palo Alto, CA.

Select Experiences

Select Experiences are available to all Chase credit and debit cardmembers, and the program includes perks such as access to presales and preferred seating from Ticketmaster. To find these, look in the "ticket types" dropdown menu when purchasing tickets on the Ticketmaster website. You must pay with your eligible Chase credit card.

Cardmembers also receive access to the Chase lounge at select venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York and The Chicago Theater. Chase has also had a lounge at the U.S. Open in the past, which might return in the future.

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 2022

Citi Entertainment

(Photo by FreezeFrames/Shutterstock)

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 Boyz II Men, Reba McEntire and comedian Ron White, as well as discounted tickets for the Citi Open Tennis Tournament.

Related: Best Citi credit cards of 2022

Mastercard Priceless Cities

Dine with an art historian in Rome through a Mastercard program. (Image courtesy of Mastercard Priceless).

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 or tour Brooklyn’s best street art with a local graffiti artist.

Related: The 8 most valuable World Elite Mastercard benefits

Visa Experiences

Those with Visa Signature and Infinite cards have access to VIP experiences that vary depending on the cobranded card.

Related: From rental car perks to lounge access: Everything you need to know about the Visa Infinite program’s benefits

For example, the card network 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. (This code is from last year but is still valid through Dec. 31, 2022).

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 almost 100 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.

Bottom line

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 is 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, Ryan Smith and Jason Steele.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

5X points
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
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Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points
Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 100,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees