I thought I knew all there was to know about using credit card perks. And then last year, I needed — and I mean, needed — tickets to a certain musical theater production. When I got an email invitation to a members-only presale, I realized that the wallet full of credit cards I’ve accumulated for the miles and points have other great perks that I might not be using.
Let’s look at some of the timesaving, weekend-improving bennies you might already qualify for based on the cards you hold. (See also: 14 Awesome Credit Card Perks You Didn’t Know About)
1. Concierge service
You have a night free in a strange city, and you want to make the most of it. If only you had someone to pick a restaurant and a show for you and charge everything to your credit card…
If you have an elite-level credit card, you do have that person in the form of complimentary concierge service. You can ask your credit card concierge to buy tickets to a concert or show that is likely to sell out, so you don’t have to drop what you’re doing to get online the moment they go on sale. You can ask them to have flowers delivered to your partner or even to have them send a limo to get your kids from school. You pay for the cost of the goods or services — you can set a limit in advance — but the concierge’s time is free.
I have a friend who loves to dine at Michelin-starred restaurants, and reservations can be hard to get. She has used a credit card concierge service to score tables all over the world.
“I even had them find me a place in Atlanta for a coworker that has lots of dietary restrictions,” my friend said.
You think that’s excellent service? Then consider that other clients have successfully had credit card concierges track down obscure or in-demand items and had them delivered to their door. If your kid wants a popular toy this holiday, it might be worth asking a credit card concierge to find it.
Personally, I want to take my Broadway-obsessed teen to a show in Chicago over the holidays, but don’t know which show to get tickets to. I might just call my credit card concierge for both advice and booking. (See also: What Do the Concierge Services From Credit Cards Really Provide?)
2. Members-only spaces and experiences
You’re probably aware that some credit cards get you into airport lounges. But did you know there are also members-only lounges with complimentary beverages in some theme parks, including Universal Studios, and at big events such as the Super Bowl? And at Disney World, certain credit card holders have access to exclusive character meet-and-greet sessions.
Certain high-end cards even host members-only events, such as private dinners by celebrity chefs. These events aren’t free — in fact, some cost thousands of dollars — but they are exclusive. (See also: How to Get the Most Out of Airport Lounge Access)
3. Shorter lines
Some theme parks and other attractions have a dedicated line for certain credit card holders. If you visit often, I can see holding a credit card for that benefit alone.
4. A smoother trip through airport security
A number of high-end travel cards reimburse users the $100 application charge for Global Entry, which also comes with membership to the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program. Membership in both these programs means that you can go through a quicker security line in domestic or international airports, and when you’re returning from abroad, you can skip the immigration line and simply scan your passport at a kiosk.
5. Free museums
At least one card-issuing bank partners with museums nationwide to offer cardholders free entry on certain days.
6. Hotel room upgrades
Certain hotel chain credit cards offer cardholders status, which can lead to getting an upgraded room when you check in. It can also get you free Wi-Fi at the hotel, late checkouts, and other perks. Some cards even offer spending credits for certain hotel stays. (See also: The Best Credit Cards With Free Hotel Status Upgrades)
7. Free rides
At least one credit card offers a monthly credit for a ride sharing service, smoothing everything from business travel to barhopping without a designated driver.
8. Free shipping
Some credit cards offer membership to free shipping programs that work at multiple online stores.
9. Freedom to pack more stuff
This holiday season, my family will be checking suitcases instead of relying on carry-ons, because I hold one of the airline’s premium credit cards that gives cardholders one free checked bag. Because we have that privilege, we can tell the grandparents they don’t have to limit gifts to digital downloads! (See also: 12 Travel Perks You Didn’t Know Your Credit Card Had)
10. Free internet
Some credit cards give you membership to wireless plans so that you can get online on participating flights or in other public places.
11. A sweeter ride
Some credit cards give you instant status with car rental programs, which can unlock free upgrades and shorter waits at dedicated booths at the airport. So make the most of your membership to rent that sports car you’ve always wanted to drive!