The Best Travel Credit Card Perks Beyond Miles
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In the battle to win over new credit card applicants, banks have consistently escalated their sign up offers of points and miles. It's not unusual to see issuers give new cardholders 50,000, 75,000, and even 100,000 miles, just for a receiving a new card and meeting the minimum spending requirements.
But with airline and hotel rewards redemption charts constantly changing, travelers are looking for perks in addition to accumulating miles. Here are some of the top non-mileage travel reward benefits that you should be looking for in your next travel rewards credit card.
Some airline-affiliated credit cards now offer a redemption bonus, so that cardmembers get a discount on their award tickets. For example, when you redeem 2,000 miles toward a flight, you might get a bonus of 500 miles deposited into your account.
Airport Lounge Access
When delays occur, or you just have a long layover, the only thing nicer than relaxing in an airport lounge is doing so without having to pay extra. Whenever there is a problem with my trip, I go to the staff at the airline's lounge to get superior service and skip the long line. Two other key features of these lounges are their workstations and free Wi-Fi access, which allow me to get some work done during a flight delay.
Delta, United, and American each offer premium credit cards that come with free admission to their lounges. Besides these airline credit cards, there are other premium credit cards that also offer discounted or free access to airport lounges.
Some of the most popular credit card perks now include the special privileges once reserved just for elite frequent flyers. Holders of popular cards like the Delta SkyMiles Gold enjoy early boarding and one free checked bag. American Airlines flyers with a Citi Executive AAdvantage card receive priority service at check-in and security screening as well.
Companion Travel Certificates
If you often fly with a partner or family, consider cards that offer free or discounted companion passes. For example, earn enough Southwest Rapid Rewards points and you'll get a free companion pass for an entire year.
Some credit cards allow you to save on incidentals by issuing statement credits for those expenses. For example, the Expedia+ Voyager Card from our partner Citi offers a $100 annual statement credit for airline incidentals, such as checked bags, in-flight entertainment or refreshments, and in-flight Wi-Fi. Some cards even allow for fee reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. (See also: Credit Cards that Reimburse for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry)
Although hotel-affiliated credit cards still lavish their applicants with points, some try to tempt you with perks as well. For example, if you spend $30,000 in a calendar year on the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express, you'll be awarded SPG Gold status. With this elite status, you'll enjoy room upgrades and late checkouts. For instance, using my Starwood elite status gained solely through use of this credit card, my family of three was upgraded from a nice but small room at the Sheraton in Milan to a spacious two bedroom suite. (See also: Best Hotel Credit Cards with Elite Status)
When you're choosing a travel rewards credit card, make sure to look beyond their miles offer and check for additional perks and benefits that will give you even more value for your purchase.
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