Many 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…
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!).
- 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.
- 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.”