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When choosing a credit card, few people take the time to consider all of the unique credit card benefits a particular card offers. Most people just want to know about a card’s rewards program and annual fee.
That’s too bad, because certain credit cards can offer some other extremely valuable benefits beyond the headline rewards programs. Common benefits include insurance for damage to a rental car, extended warranty coverage on large purchases, and even price protection policies. But there also are some more valuable, exclusive benefits that only certain cards offer.
Of course, some of the most valuable benefits come on cards with hefty annual fees. But, there are also no-annual-fee cards with unique features that might be more useful to the average consumer than perks on the high-fee cards designed mostly for frequent world travelers.
Here are seven of the most valuable unique credit card benefits you can only get by holding the right card.
1. Airport business lounge access, and a massage
There are plenty of premium reward credit cards that offer airport lounge access, but most of the lounges aren’t that special. Your typical airline lounge may offer you a drink and a light snack, but not much else.
But if you have an American Express Platinum card, then you can enjoy complimentary access to the American Express Centurion Clubs, which are much nicer than the lounges offered by the airlines. These clubs feature gourmet meals, and some even include complimentary spa treatments and massages.
This card also offers access to the less luxurious, but more numerous Delta SkyClub and Priority Pass Select lounges. Other benefits include 5x points for airfare and hotel purchases, and a $200 annual airline fee credit.
There’s a $550 annual fee for this card.
2. Mobile phone insurance
When your smartphone costs more than your computer, you live in constant fear of it being damaged or stolen. But when you pay for your monthly bill with certain Wells Fargo credit cards, then you automatically receive $600 worth of coverage with a $25 deductible. Coverage includes up to four phones listed on your bill. With similar insurance plans going for between $8 and $15 a month when you purchase them through your wireless carrier, this feature alone could save you $100 a year or more.
Cards with this service include the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card—a good choice for simple cash rewards that gives you 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase, with no annual fee.
3. Free museum entrance
Bank of America® offers the “Museums On Us” program to all credit card holders.
Under the program, you can earn free general admission to hundreds of museums around the country on the first full weekend of each calendar month—just present your Bank of America® or Merrill Lynch® credit or debit card and photo ID.
Participating museums in New York City include the American Museum of Natural History, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, and three branches of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; here’s a full list.
See recommended Bank of America® credit cards (with no annual fee) or learn why the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Card is one of our most recommended travel rewards credit cards with no annual fee.
4. Attending the Emmy Awards and other special events
If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve cards, then you have the ability to purchase tickets to the Emmy Awards using your reward points! In 2016, prices started at $450 for two seats and went up to $3,000 for packages that included receptions before and after the ceremony.
Other events offered in Chase’s On Location program include the Sundance Film Festival and events at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on all dining and travel expenses, while the Sapphire Reserve offers 3x on those charges.
There’s a $95 annual fee for the Sapphire Preferred and a $450 for the Sapphire Reserve.
You can also use a credit card to help pay for your hockey gear and your NHL subscription.
The NHL® Discover it® will help you offset your hockey fan costs. When you use your card and the code ITPAYS, you’ll save 10 percent at Shop.NHL.com. You’ll also shave 10% off your NHL.TV™ subscription when you pay with your Discover card.
5. First class upgrade priority
If you’re a frequent traveler, and have elite status with the airline, then you always hope to get a first class upgrade. Usually, these upgrades are determined by your level of status, how much you paid for your ticket, and when you bought it. But if you happen to have the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card from American Express, then you’ll receive upgrade priority above others who have the same level of elite status.
This can make all the difference between enjoying first class and having to take your seat in economy. This card also includes all sorts of priority service upgrades (no matter where you’re seated), as well as a Delta SkyClub airport lounge membership.
There’s a $450 annual fee for this card.
6. A free night’s hotel stay
When you book three consecutive hotel nights through Citi’s travel service, your fourth night is free. This benefit works whether you’re booking an inexpensive motel or a luxury resort.
The Citi® /AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® miles on air travel, hotels, dining, and entertainment purchases. It also features a ton of other high-end benefits including airport business lounge access and a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or Precheck every five years.
There’s a $450 annual fee for this card.
7. Companion airline ticket
Everyone loves a good buy-one-get-one free offer, but this is much more valuable when it’s for an airline ticket.
The Delta SkyMiles Platinum card offers you a free companion airline ticket (plus taxes), each year when you renew your credit card. The SkyMiles Platinum card certificate is only valid for economy class flights within the 48 contiguous United States.
This card has a $195 annual fee.
8. Streaming subscription credit
The Uber Visa Card, issued by Barclays, offers a $50 subscription credit for streaming services—so long as you spend more than $5,000 on the card per year. This includes video streaming, digital music and even shopping subscription services.
9. Uber credit
Did you know that you can save $200 off your Uber rides by using the Platinum Card from American Express? It’s true. With this card, you can get $15 in Uber credit for U.S. rides every month, plus a $20 bonus in December via the Uber app.
To get the credits, just make sure you opt to pay for your rides with your Platinum card. In addition, the card offers you Uber VIP status where it’s available. To top it off, Amex is offering Uber users $30 off a first ride in the U.S. through July 31, 2018. All you need to do is enter in the code UBERAMEX in the Uber app and pay for rides with your applicable credit card.
10. Extra credit for students
If you’re a student, here’s some extra credit you likely haven’t heard about in college: cash back on your credit card statement for your good grades.
11. Travel insurance
While many travel credit cards offer car rental insurance, others go above and beyond when it comes to travel insurance. For example:
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers travel accident insurance, which includes accidental death and dismemberment when traveling on a common carrier like an airplane or train.
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card offers protection if you have to cancel or interrupt your trip for eligible reasons, or if your trip gets delayed through no fault of your own.
So, if you’re in the market for a new travel credit card, make sure to check the insurance benefits to get the most bang for your buck.
12. Free access to your credit score
Your credit score is an important part of your financial profile, but for a long time, it was almost impossible to get free access to it. Now, several credit card issuers offer the perk, including:
If you have a credit card with one of these issuers, check your online account to get access to your FICO credit score.
13. Wine tasting
If you have a Visa Signature or Visa Infinite credit card, you could get special savings at more than 50 wineries in Sonoma County, California.
While the benefits you receive can vary by winery, here’s what you can expect:
- Purchase one standard tasting and receive one complimentary tasting of equal or lesser value.
- Get preferred pricing on non-wine purchases over $50.
- Savings on wine purchased same day in the tasting room.
- Savings on reserve tasting or special wine and food pairings.
For the buy-one-get-one-free benefit, there’s a limit of one per day. Otherwise, you can take advantage of these perks year-round.
To determine if you qualify, check the front of your Visa-branded credit card—the credit card issuer doesn’t matter. If it says “Signature” or “Infinite” under the Visa symbol, you’re eligible.
You can find some unique credit card benefits beyond just cash back or travel miles—if you know where to look. The next time you’re thinking of getting a new card, consider what perks you might find useful beyond pennies back on every purchase-. It might be exclusive access to first-class lounges when you travel or simply included mobile phone insurance to provide peace of mind.