9 awesome credit card perks you might not know about

awesome credit card perksMany credit cards have terrific perks that make them worth keeping despite their annual fees.  A couple of examples that come to mind are the IHG card’s annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property worldwide; and the Citi Prestige’s $250 airfare credit and 4th Night Free hotel benefits.  But, those are examples of headline perks – the perks that are widely advertised and well known.  Today we’ll look at some of the best lesser known perks that are nevertheless awesome…

  1. Better United award availability including last seat availability: Chase United MileagePlus cardholders have access to more saver level economy seats for both domestic and international flights, as well as unrestricted access to more expensive standard awards.  As long as a seat is available for sale, United cardholders can book a standard award (details here).
  2. Complementary elite upgrades on United award tickets.  This perk is specifically for United elite members.  Normally, United flights booked as awards are not available for complementary elite upgrades.  However, if you have one of several United Mileage Plus credit cards, then you are eligible for complementary elite upgrades on award tickets. Details can be found here.  Note: if you’re a big spender, you can spend your way to United Silver status.  See: How to manufacture United elite status.
  3. 10% award rebate: A number of credit cards offer 10% rebates on awards.  These include several American Airlines cards (up to 10,000 miles rebated per year), the Chase IHG card, and the Barclaycard JetBlue Plus and Business cards.  With these rebates, awards effectively cost 10% fewer points, which makes your points worth 11% more when compared to cash prices.
  4. Reduced mileage awards: American Airlines maintains an ever changing list of destinations in which AA cardholders can secure reduced mileage awards (found here).  One trick worth knowing: even though the listed airports are described as “destinations”, you can get the reduced mileage awards if you originate in any of those airports as well.
  5. Free in-flight wi-fi.  While this perk is offered by a few premium cards (such as the Amex Business Platinum and the CNB Crystal Visa Infinite), two inexpensive cards offer the benefit too.  The $49/year FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa offers 12 Gogo passes per year, and the no-fee Discover It Miles card offers $30 of free in-flight wifi per membership year.
  6. Waived change and cancellation fees: The Virgin America Premium Visa Signature card offers cardholders the benefit of fee-free changes and cancellations on revenue tickets (the benefit doesn’t apply to award tickets).  OK, so this is a headline benefit of the card, but it’s such an unusual and awesome benefit for frequent Virgin America flyers that I felt like I had to mention it here.  It will be interesting to see what happens to this benefit following Alaska Airlines’ purchase of Virgin America.
  7. Giftable Delta elite credits: The American Express Delta Reserve card offers 15,000 MQMs (elite miles) and 15,000 bonus redeemable miles after $30,000 in calendar year spend (and again at $60,000).  For those seeking Delta elite status, that’s pretty great by itself, but the fact that the MQMs are giftable is what makes this benefit truly unique and awesome.  This benefit makes it possible to secure top level elite status without purchasing a single revenue flight.  See: How to manufacture Delta elite status and Mileage Running from Home II (now with an exciting 2 player option!).
  8. 7.5% to 8.75% rewards for 6 months. The Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card offers 5X points on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases for the first 6 months of card membership.  It also offers 1.5 cents per point value when points are used to book flights.  And, if you spend $50,000 on the card, the redemption value increases to 1.75 cents per point.  See: A card I wrongly ignored.
  9. Free golf.  In addition to many other more meaningful benefits (details here), the Citi Prestige card offers 3 free rounds of golf each calendar year at “over 2,000 public and private golf courses in Asia, Latin America, USA, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. I have received an amazing value from the Prestige’s free golf benefit. In my first year, I’ve already used my 6 rounds totaling nearly $900 in greens fees.

  2. “Chase United MileagePlus cardholders have access to more saver level economy seats for both domestic and international flights…” How does this work? The link says Mileage Plus card holders members have unrestricted access to book a standard award if there is a seat available by calling the number on the back of the card. But the link doesn’t explain how cardholders access more SAVER level economy seats. Is that also a phone call?

    • Simply log into your account before searching for award space on UA. The space you see is better than those without the card. As an example, search or a particular route without logging in and take note of the award space and prices. Then log in and re-run the search. I saw such a difference that it made me keep the UA card and pay the fee. I just booked 5 tickets on Friday at 17.5K pp that without the card were not available.

  3. perhaps I’m getting this “great benefit” wrong..while it is “nice” to have more choice for an award ticket…aren’t standard awards twice the cost of a saver award?? Yeaaaa, I get to spend twice as much b/c I didn’t plan.

    Sure, better than nothing and would be helpful if planning a vacation w/ a family of 4 or 5 and need that 1 more seat. I just don’t see this as “an awesome benefit”

    I’d rather see more *saver* seats available.

    • There are two benefits here listed together:
      1) Better availability of economy saver level awards (obviously that’s an excellent benefit); and
      2) Last seat availability of standard awards: This is less useful, but I think this is awesome for cases where flights are extremely expensive such as flying over busy holidays.

      • Happen to know if you downgrade to the United Reward card (with no AF) will you still get the better award availability? My AF is coming due and the only possible reason I’d keep this card is the enhanced availability.

  4. The Prestige golf benefit specifically for Asia is 3 rounds at EACH course. I personally wouldn’t ever take advantage of this, but you could get 18 free rounds if you gofled at each of the 6 Asian courses offered through Prestige.

  5. Amex Biz Plat says that you can not use the $200 airline fees for gift cards
    ( like AA) Since the cards we use do not require us to pay for bags –is drinks the only way to use up the $200 or can we actually buy gift cards?

  6. Well Fargo is not 7.5 or 8.75% it is 5% and after spending a ton gets 5.75. Redeeming for 1.5 is a separate part of the equation…you are not earning anything by redeeming points for travel except a discounted rate, which is much less worthwhile than redeeming for cash and using airline program points for free flights….your starting to sound like my wife: ” I saved so much with these coupons and sale prices”….noooo : you spent money you probably wouldn’t have because of the enticements of a bargain, a coupon, or a sale for something you weren’t looking for in the first place. It is like people who buy tickets, despite having tons of points they could trade in for award tickets, however they justify it, they are still spending actual cash instead of ever-devaluating points…I know you like to get mathematical, but fuzzy math is not needed in this instance, where the true perk is the 5% cash back.

    • Where do you get the 5.75 number? The card earns 5 points per dollar at certain stores and then if you use those points to book flights, each point is worth at least 1.5 cents. 5 x 1.5 = 7.5.

      If you’re arguing that a person is unlikely to need to book a ton of revenue flights I would agree, but to the extent that one does have to, I think that the stated rebate values are fair

  7. Wells Fargo card used to be 1.75 per point and now 1.50 per point for airfare on certain cards. The article was put out in 2014. In Oct 2014 it changed.

  8. So to get the upgrades on United on a award ticket I am assuming you have you use that card to pay the taxes? otherwise how do they know your a cardholder. We are traveling to Europe and have already booked award tickets but do not have the united card yet but was planning to get one when I do a domestic flight in the next few months as you get point s and a statement credit if you book at that time

  9. The Hawaiian Airlines card also has a reduced mileage feature. For example, a roundtrip between Hawaii and the continental US is 40,000 miles, but it is only 35,000 for cardholders.

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