Many travelers hold at least one premium credit card in their wallet, which often collects points and miles with every purchase. While those currencies can be valuable in lowering travel expenses, many of those cards also hold premium benefits available for those who know where to look.
From the ability to book five-star resorts with bonuses, to emergency roadside help, many credit cards offer high-end benefits for their high-end price – but are often overlooked for points and miles. If you hold a travel credit card, look closely at the benefit guide, because you could be leaving bonuses on the table every year. Here are the top five credit card extras you probably aren’t using, but should definitely consider.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit
For those who have traveled by air in the post 9/11 world, getting through security can be a major ordeal. Before boarding an airplane, travelers are forced to take their shoes off, go through a body scanner, and even face a pat down from TSA agents. Thankfully, frequent flyers may bypass all of those security measures by enrolling in a trusted travel program, such as Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
Aimed towards frequent international travelers, Global Entry is offered as a “fast track” program by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. After submitting to a background check and interview, travelers can re-enter the United States at a kiosk instead of through long entry lines.
Similarly, TSA PreCheck allows background checked travelers to access faster lines at American airports. Once approved, TSA PreCheck passengers who are cleared ahead of their flight go to a special line where they only go through a metal detector and can leave their shoes on.
TSA PreCheck is included with Global Entry, but Global Entry is not included in TSA PreCheck. As both programs have an application fee ranging from $85 to $100 for five years, a fee credit allows travelers to
Which cards offer it? Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credits are primarily offered on high-end credit cards geared towards luxury travelers. The Platinum Card from American Express, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Citi Prestige Card, and the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express card all offer Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credits when travelers pay for their application with their card. Additionally, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card also come with the fee credit.
Luxury Hotel Program Access
For many travelers, getting to the destination is only half the challenge. Once there, they want to stay at the finest resorts and receive the best service that money can buy. Finding these hotels at a competitive rate can be difficult at times, which is where credit card luxury hotel programs come in.
Luxury hotel programs allow cardholders access to some of the most elite hotels and resorts around the world with a simple phone call or online booking. Program members have their pick of destinations, each offering different amenities and levels of luxury for the traveler. Furthermore, travelers often receive bonus gifts and benefits at check-in, including room upgrades, restaurant or spa credits, and complimentary amenities not available to non-elite guests.
Which cards offer it? Once again, access to luxury hotels often comes as a benefit of high-tier and mid-tier credit cards available to frequent travelers. The Platinum Card from American Express offers access to the Fine Hotels and Resorts collection, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve has The Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection. Meanwhile, those holding the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express can book through The Hotel Collection, offering rooms at luxury resorts with a $75 hotel credit to spend on dining, spa and resort activities while on site.
Airport Lounge Access
When transiting through airports, there is nothing quite as nice as escaping to an enclave to receive a snack, a beverage that isn’t overpriced, and charge phones between trips. Airport lounges provide this calm in the storm of traveling, allowing travelers to temporarily escape as they wait for their next flight.
While most airlines offer lounges at their hub airports, others feature independent lounges accessible for the right price. By holding the right credit card or elite status, travelers can open the door to these rest points and find a little peace in between flights.
Which cards offer it? Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Platinum Card from American Express offer lounge access to travelers around the world through Priority Pass Select. However, the American Express Platinum goes a step further by offering access to many other lounges as well, including their signature Centurion Lounge. Platinum cardholders also receive access to Airspace Lounges at select American airports, and Delta Air Lines’ Sky Club when flying aboard the Atlanta-based carrier.
Top-tier airline cards also offer lounge membership as a benefit of the high annual fee. The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard, the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express, and the United MileagePlus Club Card all offer lounge access with their respective carriers as a key benefit.
Hotel Elite Status
Those who have stayed more than ten nights with the same hotel chain can often attest to the benefits of elite status. From room upgrades to bonus points and extra gifts at check-in, being a frequent guest of one hotel program can have its benefits.
However, some guests don’t need to stay multiple nights every year in order to gain status from their favorite hotel chains. Several credit cards offer guests the ability to earn status with select partners, or holding their hotel chain credit card. In addition, those who use their credit card at their hotel chains can receive extra benefits, including bonus points towards free hotel stays.
Which cards offer it? High-end lifestyle credit cards, including The Platinum Card from American Express and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card, both offer Gold status with Marriott Hotels and Starwood Preferred Guest. Additionally, The American Express Platinum also offers Gold status in Hilton’s loyalty program, Hilton Honors.
Holding a high-end, high annual fee credit card is not the only way to get status from a credit card. Many low-fee and no-fee credit cards offer complimentary status with their respective hotel chains. The IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers Platinum Select status at InterContinental Hotel Group hotels, while the Choice Privileges Visa and the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express both offer gold status at their respective hotel chains..
Emergency Roadside Assistance and Rental Car Insurance
Not all travel is done by air. Every year, millions of travelers take to the roads to see the world through their windshields. By doing so, they inherit a small risk of something going wrong along the way, from a flat tire to a full-out engine breakdown.
When something bad happens, credit cards can once again come to the rescue. Many cards offer rental car insurance benefits when travelers pay entirely with their car and waive all other insurance products offered by the rental car company. Additionally, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express offer roadside assistance to cardholders, each to varying degrees depending on the card one holds.
Which cards offer it? For rental car insurance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers one of the most robust protections available. Acting as primary insurance coverage when travelers use their card to pay for a rental car, the card insurance policy will provide reimbursement up to actual cash value in the event of a rental vehicle theft or collision.
For emergency roadside assistance, all three cards offer some benefit for travelers. Visa cardholders can receive tow service, a tire change, jumpstart, access to locked-out cars, or gas delivery for a flat fee, while MasterCard holders can receive services at pre-negotiated rates. Those who hold The Platinum Card from American Express or the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express receive Premium Roadside Assistance as a benefit of holding their card. With one call, they get free services up to four times per year, including tire change, towing, or a battery jumpstart.