TPG staff, readers share 10 credit card perks on their 2021 wish list
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Every year, credit card benefits change and evolve — that’s the nature of the industry.
However, with the pandemic, we saw vast transformations in card perks as travel suddenly came to a halt (or near halt). We can expect more of the same in 2021 as issuers react to changing consumer behavior and trends. Our new normal continues but with the rollout of the vaccine, widespread travel — and the associated card benefits — are on the horizon.
We want to make the most of our rewards credit cards so our lives can be, well, more rewarding. As we roar ahead into the new year, let’s take a look at what TPG staffers and readers have on their credit card perks wish list.
Waived COVID-testing fees
With an array of different testing requirements to travel based on state, country or region, a commonly requested perk was for a travel credit card to cover these charges. Costs can vary significantly, and there would be peace of mind knowing that a card would cover any required testing costs.
A perk suggested by Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, TPG contributor and reader.
A parking and gas perk
Several staffers and readers want to see new parking and gas perks on select premium travel cards. Gas is an often-ignored category by issuers, and the pain point of paying for parking can also easily be solved by having this as a card benefit.
I’d like to see more of our top cards come with bonus points for parking and gas as a standard benefit. The higher-annual-fee travel cards should have a parking fee reimbursement. — Clint Henderson, TPG senior news editor
More non-travel benefits on travel cards
A common theme from staffers and readers alike was to continue amplifying non-travel benefits on travel cards. This is particularly true during the pandemic when travel is diminished, but also there were numerous requests to have this be a permanent feature.
While I really appreciated the limited-time streaming and wireless credits on The Platinum Card® from American Express, it’s still a travel-heavy perks card. I’d like to see higher points per dollar spent on supermarkets and gas stations extended to existing cardholders — but with a lower cap. Something like 3-4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on up to $1,500 a month, similar to what the Chase Sapphire Reserve did. And of course, please change the $200 airline credit into a travel credit. — Benét Wilson, TPG senior credit cards editor
I want to see more permanent (and unique) non-travel credit card benefits on cards next year. Yes, hopefully, we’ll all be back to traveling more in 2021, but I still want to see a broader selection of benefits on my points-earning cards. I don’t need five cards that all offer a $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, or three cards that offer Priority Pass. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card could replace its Global Entry credit with a streaming or gas credit. I want my travel cards to be more versatile in my day-to-day life and not only useful when I’m in the air. — Madison Blancaflor, TPG credit cards reporter
Increased redemption benefit for statement credit
Earlier in 2020, Chase introduced Pay Yourself Back, a new way to use your Ultimate Rewards points at increased redemption rates for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve. Staffers and readers would like to see more of this for other cards — and to make it a permanent feature.
I’d love to see all rewards cards increase the redemption rate for cash back. One cent per point should be the absolute minimum, but 1.5 cents provides a bigger incentive to spend. You can achieve that rate with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and Chase’s Pay Yourself program, but it’d be great to see issuers boost cash-back returns without limiting categories or adding extra hoops. Simplicity is key. — Zach Honig, TPG editor-at-large
A flexible airline fee credit
We get it, we’ve heard this one a lot. Amex’s airline fee credit is intended to only cover incidental airline fees, a very limiting element of this credit card perk. While numerous readers and staffers suggested making it flexible for all travel, one TPG reader had an interesting compromise.
Open up the chosen airline credit to more than just incidentals. It should basically cover anything from that airline, including airfare, gift cards, miles, etc. Basically this would just be a compromise between current standards and how the Chase Sapphire Reserve puts its credit toward any travel whatsoever. You choose your airline, and anything you purchase with that airline up to $200 is credited. — Ryan S., TPG reader
Offer more concierge-like services
Getting up-to-date information as the pandemic evolves is an important facet of traveling in 2021. As testing requirements change and vaccinations begin, cardholders who are interested in traveling need to stay in the know. We heard from staffers that this is one important reason why card concierge services should expand. And for cards that already have a concierge, they should make cardholders more aware they exist.
Lean into the concierge services on cards that offer it. Tell cardholders what services they can ask for and provide support as travel resumes but has new difficulties (such as getting 24-hour coronavirus tests abroad, getting groceries delivered in a city without grocery delivery if you test positive while traveling, providing information about changing entry, visa and health restrictions while traveling, etc.). Some of these are already offered, but many cardholders don’t know. — Katie Genter, TPG reporter
A coworking space benefit
In past years, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offered a WeWork membership that allowed cardholders to drop in and work from a coworking space anywhere around the world. With that benefit disappearing, no other cards offer such a perk. Obviously, remote work is even more common now during the pandemic — but it will continue to flourish even after the world fully reopens.
As for perks I’d like to see: coworking perks — either as a monthly credit or a membership — on a travel card like the Amex Platinum. I could also see this as a Work from Hyatt credit on a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. — Katie Genter, TPG reporter
Airbnb or home rental benefit
Airbnb and home rentals have long been a popular lodging option but they’re even more coveted in the COVID era, especially for families. That’s likely why we heard from many TPG readers about a card benefit that extended to those that prefer this type of accommodation. (Alternatively, we’d love to see an Airbnb credit card.)
A resort fee waiver benefit
Long a sore spot for staffers and readers alike, resort fees need to go — at the very least for those with certain premium travel cards. Resort fees are a mandatory charge, often poorly disclosed or not advertised, regardless of whether or not you use the amenities. While these fees are sometimes eliminated for hotel elites or award redemptions, a reimbursement or credit for these painful fees would be a much-appreciated card perk. (Or, get rid of them altogether.)
A benefit for car owners
Auto ownership has become a drag for me. Various startups are in the space — from Volvo launching “subscriptions” to new cars to startups that will fill up your gas tank, change your oil and wash your car at work. I want an auto concierge that will automatically book my appointments and pay. I dislike interacting with the auto service industry. Also, expenses are uneven across time, and a big part of it is just remembering to make appointments. Sounds like the perfect thing to smooth over with a credit card. – Mitchell Stoutin, director of engineering
Featured photo courtesy of Airbnb
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