[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
Freebies are among the many benefits of having a credit card. Some typical perks include car rental insurance, extended warranties on purchases and free credit scores, but many issuers have a collection of more luxurious offers, available to only some of their cardholders.
These freebies and exclusive rewards range from uncommon adventures to hard-to-get tickets. Rewards and what we’re calling “perks” are a bit different — rewards are generally redeemable through points or miles you accumulate by spending money on the credit card. A so-called perk is an exclusive item or discount only available to cardmembers.
1. Free Monograms
The L.L. Bean Visa credit card allows cardholders to have their merchandise monogrammed for free. It’s not a huge money saver, but it’s unique.
2. NFL Sideline Access
The NFL Extra Points card from Barclaycard gives fans a slew of offers, like visiting a team’s training facility or access to the post-game press conference.
“I was on the sidelines of the Denver broncos game during the warmup, and when the warmup was over I went to the tunnel where all the players come out,” said Jason Steele, an expert on credit card rewards and a frequent contributor on the topic to Credit.com. “It differs by team. These are generally things you couldn’t get — it’s not something they just offer to everyone.”
3. Pow-Wows With Celebrities
Citi Private Pass is a program for Citi cardholders that gets them into some ticketed events for free. The most recent free event is a talk with actress Claire Danes, tickets for which cost $40 but are complimentary for Citi cardholders (those tickets are fully redeemed at this point). PrivatePass also allows cardholders to purchase various event tickets before they go on sale to the general public, including concerts, sports camps, restaurants and more.
4. United Virtual Airlines Flight Simulator
Some credit card issuers auction rewards to their cardholders — instead of bidding money, cardholders bid miles or points for the prizes. In an auction through United Airlines and Chase for their Explorer cardholders, Steele got the opportunity to go to the United Airlines flight simulator center.
“This is where airline pilots travel from all over the world to train,” Steele said. He got to use the simulator and other equipment in the facility. “I got to jump down the emergency exit slides — it was pretty fun.”
5. BMW One-Day M School
One of the items on the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) auction site is a class for two people at the BMW Performance Center in Thermal, Calif. The winner gets to exercise his or her driving skills in M model BMWs, just like professional drivers.
Even if you don’t have an account branded as a “rewards card,” you may have access to some special deals your issuer arranges for its customers. Be careful to read the terms and conditions, and know that it’s usually not worth financing purchases just to get the associated rewards, because interest rates on such cards tend to be quite high. (If you’re carrying a balance, you can see how long it will take you to pay it off using this calculator.)
When choosing a credit card, focus on what’s most important to you, and make sure you only apply for cards you think you’re qualified for. Check your credit before applying for a credit card, to see if your score meets the credit issuer’s credit score threshold for the approval process. You can see two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see where you stand.
At publishing time, the NFL Extra Points card from Barclaycard, IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card and United MileagePlus Explorer Card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
More on Credit Cards:
- How to Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rates
- 6 Smart Credit Card Strategies
- Tips for Paying Off Credit Card Debt