Quirky perks: 10 things you didn’t know your credit card could do
From taking part in something called “the Great London Gin Walk” to having someone take care of your dinner reservations, chances are you’re not using all your credit card benefits.
These days, part of the job of a good rewards credit card is making you feel like a bit of a VIP, giving you access to cool experiences and perks. However, they’re not necessarily easy to find, so we did some digging for you. See if there’s anything you fancy and check which are offered by your card.
Disclaimer: sorry, crowds of adoring fans aren’t included in these deals.
1. Concierge service, aka someone who books you dinner
Let’s start with the big guns: premium credit cards, such as the Amex Platinum, will include a concierge service, which is a number you can call to have someone organise stuff for you when you can’t be bothered doing it yourself.
You can have them arrange your dinner reservations, organise an event for you, send you a cab to pick you up at the airport… in a nutshell, they’ll sort out all the little things that would otherwise eat away at your time without you even noticing.
2. Lounge access, aka as cosy as you can be in an airport
This is a fairly common perk, especially on frequent flyer credit cards. LoungeKey is probably the most well-known airport lounge programme and it has over 1,000 lounges in 120 countries.
Lounge access means that waiting for two hours at the airport goes from being an absolute nightmare made of overcrowded waiting areas and plastic seats, to being a fairly pleasant experience that includes drinks and snacks, Wi-Fi, comfy armchairs and, if things go really wrong or you’re in for a really long journey, even the greatest invention of all times: showers.
3. Hotel upgrades, for seasoned travellers
If you spend more than a few nights a year sleeping in a bed that isn’t yours, you’ll know how much a better room can improve your mood when you wake up in the morning. Many rewards credit cards allow you to convert your points into well-known hotel chains’ loyalty points, which you can then spend on a room upgrade. A few top-tier cards will even come with a premium membership status, which in some cases will include a free room upgrade.
For example, with the Amex Platinum, you get a Hilton Honors Gold status, which translates into a free room upgrade (subject to availability) up to what they call an “Executive room type”, a fairly big room that normally includes a work desk.
4. Travel insurance
While not as appealing as fancy dinners and room upgrades, it’s still worth checking if your credit card offers it. You won’t have to purchase it separately and it’ll save you some money while allowing you to travel the world knowing that if an accident happens, you’re fully covered.
5. Pre-sale and discounted gig tickets, for impressive gifts
Various credit card companies offer some kind of entertainment rewards. For example, anyone who owns a Barclaycard can access discounted and pre-sale tickets on a range of gigs through Barclaycard Entertainment.
If you’re lucky enough, you can sort out your partner’s birthday by getting tickets for their favourite summer festival before they even go on sale.
6. Experiences, aka the stuff you probably wouldn’t do if it wasn’t discounted
Many credit card companies offer cardholders access to some kind of exclusive experience, and in any case, if you own a Mastercard, you’ll normally get access to its Priceless Cities programme. Be aware that the term “experiences” usually encompasses a pretty wide range of things, so if you aren’t a risk taker, you may want to look somewhere else.
Together with some more traditional dinner discounts, you can choose among a bunch of peculiar options that can make a nice idea for a gift or for a night out. Random examples from Priceless Cities: the Great London Gin Walk, a bespoke sightseeing tour of Buckingham Palace, a tour of New York City on a jet ski, a lesson on how to bake focaccia in Rome.
7. Refer a friend to earn more points
With the Amex referral programme, for example, you can earn as much as £60 worth of rewards if a friend applies for an Amex card through the link you send him and is approved.
It’s an easy way to boost your points. Plus, you and your mates can have matching cards, which will probably be cooler than the matching t-shirt you bought yourselves in secondary school. Just saying.
8. Free or discounted additional cardholders
If you have a rewards credit card, it’s worth having a look if you can also get one for your family members. It’ll extend the benefits to them as well as making it easier and quicker to earn points and rewards.
9. Fee-free spending abroad, for your holiday shopping spree
Most credit cards will charge you a fee to make purchases abroad, which is known as a foreign transaction fee and can mount up to 3% of the transaction (in which case you’ll be charged £3 for every £100 you spend). If you want to do some serious shopping while on holiday, you’ll end up spending a small fortune in fees. Not cool.
10. Purchase protection
Let’s be honest, those of us who have a fairly boring life with a 9-5 job and go on holiday two weeks a year often have a hard time making the most of these very appealing but not so practical perks. If that sounds like you, cheer up: for the end of the list we’ve kept a piece of good news that applies to literally everyone who owns a credit card.
Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, your credit card provider is as responsible as the retailer for any purchase over £100 that you make. In other words, if, say, you order something that arrives damaged or isn’t the same as the description, you can submit a claim to your credit card company to get your money back.