Non-Travel Benefits of Rewards Credit Cards [2019]

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We’ve covered various travel insurances offered by premium rewards cards such as Auto Rental CDW and Trip Delay coverage, but did you know that your credit card most likely provides perks that have nothing to do with travel?

Many credit cards, particularly the new breed of premium travel rewards cards, offer an extensive list of benefits that are passed over by the majority of cardholders. From purchase protection and warranties to special access for events and experiences, getting to know your perks can provide thousands of dollars in additional value over the lifetime of holding your credit card.

Free cell phone protection

Exclusive Access to Events for Amex Platinum and Centurion Cardholders

It’s no secret we’re fans of The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express. Not only do they both offer substantial welcome bonuses, but the cards also provide the best lounge access available of any premium travel card, elite status in multiple rewards programs, annual Uber and airline credits, along with a host of other perks (Terms Apply).

One of the lesser-known benefits is special access to sporting events, concerts, and theatre productions. Platinum and Centurion cardholders can gain entry to The Centurion Suite in LA's STAPLES Center or Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for a ball game or concert.

Barclays-Center-Amex-Lounge
The American Express Suite in the Barclays Center, Brooklyn.

These benefits differ from the experiences available from Marriott Moments, which allow you to bid for experiences auction-style, using your points. As long as you’ve purchased a paid ticket to the event and you arrive early enough to get in (suites have limited capacity, and it’s first-come-first-served), just show your Platinum or Centurion card and get access for you and a companion. It’s a suite benefit!

Platinum cardmembers can also access curated and exclusive events through Amex's By Invitation Only® program. Fashion, art, dining, sports, and music or theatre productions, you can access the list of available gigs by visiting AmericanExpress.com/byinvitationonly to discover possible events, and calling 1-800-321-7787 when you are ready to purchase tickets with your Platinum card or Membership Rewards points.

American Express® Preferred Seating is another program open to all Amex cardmembers, offering advanced ticket sales and preferred seating for concerts and sporting events, and other big-ticket entertainment. Access is free to holders of dozens of Amex cards, all listed on the Preferred Seating website.

Lounge Access Outside of Airports

Another benefit for holders of the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum Card is lounge access outside of airport lounges.

  • Access Lounge South Coast Plaza – Cardholders gain free entry to the Access Suite in the South Coast Plaza, a high-end fashion mall in Orange County’s Costa Mesa. The Access Suite, located on Level 2 in the Saks Fifth Avenue Wing, provides light refreshments and finger food, alongside personal shopping assistants, a nursery, and a few private rooms.

As a Universal Studios preferred partner, if you pay for select Universal Studios tickets with any American Express credit or charge card, you can access the American Express lounges in Orlando and Hollywood.

  • American Express Lounge Universal Studios Orlando – Purchase any Universal Orlando™ multi-park ticket or Annual Pass at UniversalOrlando.com or the Universal Orlando Resort™ ticket window with an American Express® Card to be eligible. The lounge is open 12 pm – 5 pm seven days a week and has light snacks and drinks.
  • American Express Lounge Universal Studios Hollywood – You must purchase a VIP Experience or Front of Line ticket from www.universalstudioshollywood.com or at the Universal Studios Hollywood box office using your American Express® Card. The lounge is open 12 pm – 5 pm seven days a week and has light snacks and drinks.
American-Express-Lounge-Universal-Studios-Orlando
While Universal Studios' lounges aren't as flashy as some of their airport counterparts, they provide a welcome respite.

Access a Concierge for Tickets, Gifts, Directions, or Restaurant Bookings

Premium rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Citi Prestige® Card, and Amex Platinum offer a dedicated concierge for cardholders to contact when they need help. Your concierge can arrange for reservations at hard-to-book restaurants, flowers for a loved one, tickets for a concert or show, or help with the purchase of gifts or personal items.

The concierge is best contacted for items that aren't explicitly traveling or vacation-related, as most card providers are now home to a travel division better equipped to handle those requests. But they can organize to have your car serviced or make reservations at a local spa when you’re out of town. The bill for whatever service or purchase you require will be charged to the card associated with the concierge service your using, but the concierge service itself is free.

Discounts (and Potentially LOTS of Points) on the Purchase of a New Car

The American Express Auto Purchasing Program allows you to work with over 10,000 pre-screened and certified car dealers and get guaranteed savings on the purchase price of a new car. You can see what others have paid for the car in the past to know if you’re getting a good deal, and lock in savings off the MSRP before you even visit a dealer.

Amex-Auto-Purchasing-Program

The website also lists a network of dealers that will charge up to the full price of the car to your Amex card, earning you points on the purchase. Dealers allowing you to charge the full price of the car are few and far between, but they are out there if you are willing to shop dealers.

Price Protection, Extended Warranties, Guaranteed Returns, and Purchase Security

Reading the fine print attached to these benefits can potentially save you thousands of dollars.

  • Price Protection – Kiss goodbye to shoppers anxiety if you worry you’ve paid too much for your latest purchase. If you purchase an item and see a lower advertised price within the next 90 days, many premium cards will reimburse you the difference up to a specified value per item, and per account per year. The card provider sets price protection limits, so check your benefits guide for details.
  • Extended Warranty – New television stops working a week out of manufacturer warranty? If you purchased it with your Visa, MasterCard, or Amex, chances are your purchase is covered by an extended warranty for repair or replacement. The coverage differs by provider, but in some cases can include products worth up to $10K in value.  Well worth the annual fee of a premium credit card if you ever need it. You’ll need to jump through a bit of paperwork, and the list of items not included is extensive, but when your 4K screen is on the blink, it may be time to pull out the benefits guide for your credit card to see what is covered.
  • Guaranteed Returns – If you’re not happy with a purchase and the merchant won’t accept a return, it’s possible your card provider will reimburse you the purchase price. Items must be returned to your benefits administrator in a ‘like new’ condition with original packaging and receipts within 90 days of purchase.
  • Purchase Security – If an item purchased using your card (or points earned via the card) is lost due to ‘theft, damage or involuntary and accidental parting,’ typically within the first 120 days, it may be covered by your card issuer. Coverage varies widely (from $500 to $10,000 per item) between providers so be sure to check your benefits guide.

Cell Phone Loss or Damage Coverage

We’ve covered this in detail in another post, but if you use the right card to pay your cell phone bill each month, loss or damage to the phone will be covered. The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card offers up to $600 cover if your phone is lost, damaged, or stolen, up to three times per year. Many Wells Fargo personal cards also offer the same protection, as does the Uber Visa Card from Barclaycard and select cards from other banks which we cover in the post linked above.

Didn’t use your Ink Preferred or Wells Fargo card to pay your bill? If you're within 90 days of purchase, you should be covered by the Purchase Security mentioned above.

Final Thoughts

With some of these benefits offering up to $10,000 value per claim, these perks are not to be ignored and can potentially return more than the value of the rewards garnered from your credit cards, alongside delivering access to one-of-a-kind events and experiences. There are likely dozens more non-travel related benefits we missed that are specific to a select family of credit cards, but those listed above are some of our favorites that offer unique value to cardholders.

Have a non-travel related card perk you’d like to share? Get in touch via the comments below with your favorite benefit.

Non-Travel Benefits of Rewards Credit Cards [2019]
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