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TPG credit card reader question: Do cash back cards offer perks like lounge access?

March 22, 2021
5 min read
TPG credit card reader question: Do cash back cards offer perks like lounge access?
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Editor’s note: This article is part of our weekly column to answer your credit card questions. If you would like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.


Finding the right mix of credit cards that best suits your lifestyle and needs can be complicated. While sticking with a certain family of cards can be helpful for beginners as they learn rack up points, eventually, it’s a good idea to start diversifying your rewards portfolio.

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[pullquote source="Collin S"]Hi! Long-time reader, first-time emailer. For the longest time, I've paid for our household expenses and small business expenses with separate Chase Southwest Cards. Southwest is the largest airline at our airport, and I travel a lot for business. The companion pass really made it a great value for our family of four to travel together. We've gotten to the point where my business generates more points than we can use. I'd like to get a card that offers perks, such as lounge access when flying, etc. Is there a cash-back card that offers access to stuff like that? Or am I only going to find it with a travel rewards card?[/pullquote]

There is a lot of value in having cash-back cards in your wallet — whether your goal is to save money on travel or on everyday expenses. But unfortunately, cash-back cards rarely offer perks like lounge access or complimentary elite status. Those benefits are generally saved for more premium travel-focused cards that charge higher annual fees.

However, there are travel credit cards that do come with these perks that allow you to redeem points as a statement credit, making them function essentially like a cash back card. The best choice in this scenario? The Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Point Guy)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the best travel cards out there even though it charges a steep $550 annual fee. Still, you’re getting an up to $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass lounge access, top-tier travel protections, up to $100 in application fee credits for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck and more.

The card earns 10x on Lyft, 3x on dining and travel and 1x on everything else. We recommend using your Ultimate Rewards points for travel most of the time since you can get a 50% redemption bonus when you book through the portal and transferring to partners can sometimes mean even more value. But you can also redeem points as cash back or through the Pay Yourself Back program.

When you redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for cash back, you’ll get one cent in value from each point — the same redemption rate as standard cash-back credit cards. Cash back can be redeemed as a statement credit or deposited into a connected bank account.

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The Pay Yourself Back program allows you to redeem points at the same 50% redemption bonus as you get through the travel portal for select, eligible non-travel expenses up to 90 days after purchase.

Chase also lists Southwest as a transfer partner, which means you could easily transfer points to Southwest if you ever need to top off your Rapid Rewards account.

(Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great option to pair with Southwest credit cards that provide an avenue to redeem points for cash back while also offering the perks like lounge access.

Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve review

Pairing it with the Chase Freedom Unlimited

Another benefit to Chase credit cards is that you can pair them and pool points between your accounts.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 5x on travel booked through the Chase portal, 3x on dining and drugstores and 1.5x on everything else. Those points are essentially cash back because you only get 1 cent of value from them. Still, if you also have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can pool your points into your Reserve account to use them as full-fledged Ultimate Rewards points (which means they’d be eligible for the 50% redemption bonus when using Pay Yourself Back).

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great card for everyday spending because you get 1.5x on everything. And it doesn’t charge an annual fee, so it doesn’t cost anything extra to have in your wallet.

Bottom line

You often hear redemption options for travel credit cards as limited to just airfare, hotels and miscellaneous travel expenses.

But the truth is that you can oftentimes redeem your points for more than just travel with these cards. While you may get the most value by redeeming for travel, if your family finds the most use in redeeming points at a fixed value for cash back, then that’s still a solid redemption in my book.

Just keep in mind with Chase credit cards that they do adhere to the 5/24 rule. If you’ve applied for five or more credit cards in the past two years across issuers, you’ll likely be denied a new Chase credit card.

Related: How to calculate your 5/24 standing

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
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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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
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

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
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

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023