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Upgrading my travel game: 3 perks I'm finally investing in for 2022

Jan. 16, 2022
7 min read
Chairs overlooking the tarmac from the Capital One lounge at DFW airport
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I've always been a "basics" traveler at heart. Even though working for TPG has certainly opened up opportunities for experiences like flying in first class, my personal travels look very different. I don't have any ultra-premium credit cards to give me lounge access, I always fly economy, I almost never check bags and I've never really considered applying for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

In 2022, however, that is going to change.

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This year, I've finally decided to invest in travel perks, including lounge access, Clear and Global Entry. Up until now, I was convinced I didn't need those things to have a positive travel experience. While they are luxuries that no one has to have to travel, I've started traveling more, so adding a few perks to my repertoire will save me both time and frustration in the long term.

Here are the travel perks I'm investing in for 2022 and beyond.

Lounge access

Fun fact: My first time stepping foot inside an airport lounge was in 2021, when TPG reporter Chris Dong used his Citi® / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard® to guest me into the Admirals Club in Miami (MIA) while on a work trip.

Getting some work done at the lounge (and grabbing some much-needed coffee and food after an early morning flight) was significantly better than hanging out at a gate, but that experience alone wasn't enough to convince me that I needed regular lounge access. Two subsequent visits to Amex Centurion Lounges thanks to coworkers on other work-related trips also didn't sway me to invest in it. No, it wasn't until an incident on my recent flight home to Arkansas for the holidays that I was convinced lounge access was something worth having for work and personal travel.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

I'd booked an early morning flight out of New York City's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) to hopefully limit the chance of any delays with a short layover in Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) to connect to Little Rock's Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (LIT). The dream of a stress-free morning flying home ended promptly when our flight's pilot came on the intercom to let us know that a maintenance issue was going to cause a delay. That delay forced me to miss my connection, and the only other flight I was able to secure was almost eight hours after my original connection.

Thankfully, I had a friend in Charlotte who was able to pick me up from the airport for lunch and a few hours of couch surfing to save me from hanging out at the airport all day. If I had been forced to stay there, a credit card with lounge access would have been a life (and back) saver.

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With staffing shortages still causing flight cancellations and delays, plus the fact that I now live in a city where winter weather is another potential issue to contend with, surprise changes to flight plans are inevitable for me this year. Lounge access won't prevent me from having delays or cancellations, but it would make long layovers a much more pleasant experience.

Related: Here’s what to do if your flight is delayed or canceled

TSA PreCheck and Global Entry

For anyone who is not familiar, TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are both trusted traveler programs that can expedite certain security processes at airports in the U.S. — the former makes the TSA security checkpoint process faster, while the latter simplifies the process of going through U.S. customs when you return from an international flight. (Read all about both in our guide here.)

I know, I know — I really shouldn't have waited this long to apply for one of these programs. But between not having a card that offered the application fee benefit, the lack of traveling the past two years and the fact that I've previously lived in places where going through TSA PreCheck saved minimal (if any) time, it just never seemed like it was worth the hassle.

(Photo by Arne Beruldsen/Shutterstock)

However, I did move to busier New York City and apply for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (which offers TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee reimbursement as a benefit) in 2021, so there really is no reason why I shouldn't apply.

With any luck (and help from my COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot), I'll be visiting more international destinations this year, so having Global Entry (and as a result, TSA PreCheck) will be a game-changer.

Clear

Along the same vein as TSA PreCheck, Clear offers a faster way to get through security. While it isn't available at every airport and doesn't let you completely avoid security (you still have to go through the checkpoint), it can help save you time when lines are backed up. Paired with TSA PreCheck, it can significantly streamline the security process.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

In all fairness, I was recently gifted a one-year membership to try out Clear, so the initial investment required to join was waived. However, now that I've actually used it a couple of times, I already know I'll re-up my membership in the coming years. When the security lines are backed up with travelers waiting to verify their identity before entering TSA checkpoints, Clear can save a ton of time. Less time in security lines means more time spent enjoying the lounge access benefits I talked about earlier.

Bottom line

Sometimes getting value out of perks like these can feel like you need to head somewhere exotic every weekend, but I'm beginning to realize that isn't the case. In 2021, most of the trips I took were to Disney World or other domestic destinations — trips that, looking back, could have had fewer headaches if some of these perks (particularly lounge access) were in my back pocket.

My strategy for obtaining lounge access this year is yet to be seen. I may splurge on The Platinum Card® from American Express (see rates and fees) for its unparalleled lounge access (and its myriad of other perks, of course), or I may consider applying for a cobranded card that gets me access to a specific airline's lounges. Regardless of how I decide to go about it, I do know that this is the year I'm making it happen.

So, here's to safe travels later in 2022 — you can find me raising my glass from an airport lounge bar instead of a cramped seat next to my gate.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Wyatt Smith/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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TPG featured card

TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
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

1 - 5X points
5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 150,000 points120,000 points
The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Good, 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

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Apply for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
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TPG Exclusive Offer
TPG Exclusive Offer
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

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 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
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.