Unlock VIP event access with your credit cards
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. It was originally published on June 17, 2018.
Despite their name, 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.
In the past, we’ve shared reader success stories where credit cards unlocked “magic moments.” Today, we’re walking through the credit cards and programs that can help you access these VIP experiences for yourself.
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There are three levels of VIP event access offered by American Express cards: Entertainment Access, American Express Preferred Seating 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 Come From Away as well as John Mayer concert tickets in various U.S. cities. I recently used my American Express® Gold Card to get presale ticket access to help my sister secure Harry Styles tickets, and the process was super simple.
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 credit 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 Business™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- American Express Centurion cards
- Platinum and Gold Corporate Cards
Finally, Platinum and Centurion members can access even more VIP experiences, including the ability to purchase tickets to By Invitation Only events and receive earlier access to pre-sales. Examples of By Invitation Only events include the VIP Centre Court tickets to Wimbledon 2020, the Snow Polo World Cup in Switzerland and VIP access to the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen.
Amex also added distanced events during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the American Express Platinum Drive-In, a $25 weekend event that let cardmembers enjoy a film and local treats from the comfort of their own car.
Related reading: Best Amex credit cards
Capital One Experiences
All Capital One cardholders are able to access the benefits available through Cap One Experiences. 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 like the Capital One Access Pass (which allows cardholders to upgrade experiences at events).
For example, Capital One cardholders had pre-sale ticket access to the iHeartRadio Country Festival and could purchase a cardholder-exclusive upgrade package to watch Kelsea Ballerini’s soundcheck and meet her before her performance.
Beyond pre-sale access, most VIP experiences Captial One offers are through events where the bank is a sponsor. Those attending the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, for example, can purchase tickets to a number of cardholder-exclusive events and use their card to get into specialty experiences throughout the festival. Basketball fans attending NCAA Final Four in Atlanta this year will be able to reap cardholder benefits throughout that event as well because Capital One is an NCAA sponsor.
Capital One also offers dining experiences as part of its cardholder benefits. They’ve recently started 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 reading: Best Capital One credit cards
Chase Experiences and VIP access
There are three 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 recently announced an expanded partnership with culinary reservation platform Tock, which will give holders of cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom 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.
Select Experiences are available to all Chase credit and debit cardmembers, and the program includes perks like 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. Then, 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 so that I know which events I should have access to beforehand.
Experiences for Sapphire and/or Ink 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.
Outside of the Chase experiences program, Sapphire cardholders have access to even more special events, including the Sapphire Private Dining Series. If you live in a major city like Chicago, NYC, D.C., San Francisco or Seattle, Chase is hosting a dining experience throughout the first half of 2020. If skiing is more up your alley, cardholders can also get discounted lift tickets at select resorts, access to warming huts and the availability to book meet and greet experiences with Hannah Kearney and Lindsey Vonn. Sapphire cardholders also have exclusive access experiences they can partake in at certain events throughout the year, such as the Boston Calling music festival and PGA Championship.
Related reading: Best Chase credit cards
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. As of publish time, entertainment offers included tickets and packages for Billy Joel, Halsey, Kelley Clarkson and more. Sports offers included 2020 New York Mets spring training tickets, Rob Gronkowski football clinic and Honda Classic.
Citi has also recently partnered with Live Nation to give cardholders access to concert tickets for $30 or less. Right now, the Citi site only shows two potential events (neither particularly noteworthy), but this could change in the coming months.
Related reading: 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. For example, you can meet with players on the Boston Red Sox or Los Angeles Dodgers during spring training or go on a three-day safari adventure in Sri Lanka.
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 Liz Hund and Madison Blancaflor.
Featured photo of Nicki Minaj by John Shearer/BBMA2017/Getty Images.
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