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

Jul 6, 2021

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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. Many people used their credit cards to access these activities with VIP seats and more. 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 the song, “Ain’t Nothin Like the Real Thing,” live experiences are back after 16 months. There is 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 travel and dining benefits that provide heightened experiences beyond just earning free flights or hotel stays.

For instance, Capital One is revealing a series of fine-dining events happening this summer from coast-to-coast (more on that below).

In the past, we’ve shared reader success stories where credit cards unlocked “magic moments.” Today, we’re walking through the credit card issuers and programs that can help you access these VIP experiences for yourself.

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In This Post

American Express

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.

Amex Platinum cardholders can attend A By Invitation Only retreat event in Montauk, N.Y., in August. The event includes a round in the mini-golf sculpture park, playful programming, live DJ music, al fresco dining and more at this summer destination created exclusively for Platinum Card members.

For opening weekend on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, cardholders will enjoy a private intimate performance by GRAMMY® Award-nominated artist and R&B superstar Kehlani.

(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, bear in mind that 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 these 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 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 required for select benefits.

Related: Best Amex credit cards

Capital One Experiences

All Capital One cardholders can access the benefits available through Cap 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 perks that allow cardholders to upgrade experiences at events.

(Photo courtesy of Quince Restaurant)

The latest event is a fine-dining activation, the Capital One Summer Dining Series in partnership with the renowned Michelin Guide.

These intimate meals taking place August 2021 will give guests a farm-to-table culinary experience, with an emphasis on sustainability and fresh cuisine. The participating restaurnats include Quince at the Farm outside of San Francisco, Aska in Brooklyn and The Inn at Little Washington outside of Washington, D.C.

Tickets for the events are $500 and the experiences will include meet and greets with the chefs, tasting menus, beverage pairings and gifts. Tickets can be purchased here.

Capital One cardholders have pre-sale ticket access to the iHeartRadio Country Festival in Las Vegas Sept. 17-18. Artists performing this year include Billie Eilish, Lil Baby, Coldplay, Dua Lipa and more. There’s also the chance to buy a Capital One Access Pass that features an artist experience with DJ Khalid and a special guest, complimentary food and beverage, and more.

The kick-off of the James Beard Foundation’s 2019-20 Taste America, presented by partner Capital One. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for James Beard Foundation)

Beyond pre-sale access, most VIP experiences Capital One offers are through events where the bank is a sponsor. The Taste America brings exciting culinary events from the James Beard Foundation to 20 cities across the country in this yearlong series, including benefit dinners featuring visiting and local all-star chefs to 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, which includes special onsite perks.

The Capital One Arena is Washington, D.C.’s premier event venue and pre-pandemic, held more than 230 concerts and events a year. It is home to the Washington Capitals NHL team and the Washington Wizards NBA basketball 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 and food and beverages at the arena.

Capital One also 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 culinary-focused events held throughout the year that you can find on Capital One’s website.

Related: Best Capital One credit cards

Chase Experiences and VIP access

There are different levels of the 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

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. The, 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, The Chicago Theater and The Forum in Los Angeles.

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 I should have access to beforehand.

Experiences for Sapphire and/or Ink Preferred cardholders

Preferred Experiences are offered to Chase Sapphire Preferred Card members and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card members. It includes VIP access to events and attractions such as New York Knicks games and Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. Reserve Experiences are only for Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers and J.P. Morgan Reserve cardmembers. An upcoming event includes the 43rd Ryder Cup Sept. 23-26, 2021. Sapphire cardholders can pay $5,000 or spend 500,000 Ultimate Rewards points to buy the package below.

Outside of the Chase experiences program, Sapphire cardholders have access to even more special events, including the Sapphire Dining Series. Cardholders can redeem their points for dining, including Michelin-rated takeout, restaurant-quality ingredients or access to virtual culinary experiences.

Related reading: Best Chase credit cards

Citi Entertainment

Texas Wine Country
(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 included tickets and packages for Ledisi, Jason Aldean, Kiss and more. It also includes discount tickets for the New York Mets, VIP access to the Citi Concert Series on the Today Show, access to the Citi Cardmember Pavilion Deck Ticket at the Citi Cardmember Pavilion Deck at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J. and the chance to do a virtual tasting with Halleck Vineyard through Aug. 1, 2021.

Related: Best Citi credit cards

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. Enjoy an exclusive three-course menu at Miami’s Maia House restaurant. Book a fragrance consultation and spirit tasting with MUSE founder Kimberly Waters. Or design a custom jacket with Yes I Am founder Michelle Cadore.

Bottom line

There is a lot that 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 Jason Steele.

Featured photo by Mirko Vitali/EyeEm/ Getty Images

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

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.