- Credit card perks available on MOST cards
- Credit card perks available on travel cards
- Credit card perks available on airline cards
- Credit card perks available on hotel cards
- Rare credit card perks
When it comes to credit cards, our first thoughts usually go to how much you can earn and what the card costs per year.
And rightly so – we’re always interested in getting the biggest return for the lowest fee possible.
But we can’t forget about perks, the other things credit cards provide to either save you more money or make your life easier.
So we’ve created this handy guide on the 19 major perks credit cards offer (which are accounted for in our genius rating, of course).
Credit card perks available on most cards
The first grouping of perks is available on every type of credit card, whether it’s a cash back, travel, airline or hotel rewards.
1. Lucrative sign-up bonuses
As their first attempt to woo you away from your current credit card, many credit card issuers will give you a one time bonus just for getting a new credit card with them.
Spend a set amount of money on the card in a set time period and you’ll get a big bonus of either cash or points.
We track the sign-up bonus of every card and display it as part of the basic information we provide.
Many bonuses can be worth $500 or more, so if getting a jump start toward your next holiday is something you want to do, a new credit card can take a big bite out of those costs.
2. Waived annual fee for the first year
A big sign-up bonus is a great way to get you to try out a new card, but getting the first year free is also a great help as well.
This gives you a chance to take the card for a test drive, and see how it fits in your wallet. If it turns out you don’t like the card, aren’t crazy about the rewards, or you find another card that would earn you more, you can cancel the card and move on without having paid any annual fees.
Similar to the sign-up bonus, we also show this for every card we display, and we state under the annual fee if it’s first year free.
Related: Best No Fee Cash Back Credit Cards
3. Free extra (supplementary) cards
Do you always get a supplementary card so that way both you and your partner can earn rewards under the same account?
Some come free, some come with fees.
Free supplementary cards is a great way your household can boost your rewards earnings without incurring more annual fees.
We also take this into account in our fees score for each card.
4. Waived foreign exchange fees
Travel outside the U.S? When you use your credit card to pay, you typically pay an extra 3% in foreign transaction fees, making those purchases even more expensive.
Fortunately, many credit cards do waive these fees, saving you money while traveling abroad or when online shopping in a foreign currency. Not only is this convenient since you won’t have to get a lot of currency exchanged prior to your trip, but you can also rack up your credit card rewards while on your trip as well.
5. Complimentary concierge service
Concierge service is like having a little credit card assistant. Simply call your card’s concierge number and you can get help with travel arrangements, event tickets, dinner reservations, and much more.
With the right credit card, this free service can come in handy.
Credit card perks offered by travel credit cards
If you travel at least once per year, many travel credit cards will offer perks for your journey.
You can get perks like extra savings or preferred line access at the airport.
6. Airport lounge access
We all enjoy traveling, but sometimes the airport experience isn’t always great. Long lines, uncomfortable and noisy gates, and even more lines.
Credit cards that offer lounge access allow you to step away from the chaos and relax in your own little airport oasis. You can also enjoy free food and beverages.
However, be sure to read the details on what is covered. Many cards just provide you with a membership, and you have to pay for every visit. Others will give you a set number of free passes, and some high-end cards will give you unlimited access.
Some airline credit cards also only provide lounge access to the lounges they operate and may have a set number of passes as well.
7. Priority airport security screening
Security lines tend to take the most time when getting ready to board your flight.
Want to head to the front of the line? Some cards offer access to priority lines access to select airports, so you can breeze on through security.
Also, many cards will also reimburse you on the cost of getting TSA Precheck every 4th or 5th year, allowing you to access a shorter line at any airport in the United States.
And with it, say goodbye to long waits in security lines.
8. Annual travel credits
Just looking for savings every year on your travel purchases?
Travel credits, offered by some travel credit cards, will refund you up to a set amount for making travel purchases. What qualifies for the credit varies by card, but generally, they all take a nice bite out of the expenses of your holiday or work trip.
9. Flexible redemption options
Does your card let you use your points for any travel purchase? Or are you restricted to just one airline or hotel?
Our perks number incorporates how easy it is to redeem your points, and if you are limited to who you can use them with.
Flexible redemption cards will allow you to scour the internet for any deal you can find, then use your points to pay for them. Each point has a set value when you go to redeem (usually 1 cent each).
Credit card perks offered by airline credit cards
In addition to the perks mentioned above, airline credit cards also give you access to benefits only airlines could offer.
10. Priority airport check-in
Another long line at the airport is the check-in line if you need to check a bag and drop it off.
Instead, some airline credit cards come with priority check-in, allowing you to use a dedicated lane. These lines will drastically reduce your check-in time, making for an overall better airport experience.
11. Priority boarding
With the advent of checked bag fees, more people are carrying on bags and making it harder to find space in the overhead bins.
And that’s where priority boarding can be helpful. Get on the plane before everyone else, get full access to the overhead bins, and don’t worry about having to put your bag under the seat in front of you.
Oh, and also get more time to browse the in-flight entertainment.
12. Free checked baggage
Checked baggage fees might be one of the most despised fees airlines have created. Something that used to be free now costs $25 or more (unless you fly Southwest, where checked bags are still free).
Fortunately, plenty of airline credit cards will give you one checked bag for free – easy savings while you’re flying.
13. Annual companion vouchers
If you frequently travel with someone else, wouldn’t it be nice to get a discounted second ticket?
Say hello to companion vouchers. How do they work? Generally awarded every year you have the card, simply book a trip for one person, and take someone else with you for a reduced price.
The exact details of the voucher varies by credit card, but most of them require you to simply pay the taxes and fees for the 2nd ticket. Some of them also have another charge for using the voucher.
Either way, you and your travel buddy be saving every year on your flights.
14. Discounts on in-flight food and drink
Yet another item that used to be free while flying (at least on domestic flights), if you want something to eat on the plane, it’s going to cost you.
And again, an airline credit card is here to help. You can get discounts on your inflight food and drink purchases usually in the form of a statement credit or a credit directly applied to the transaction.
15. Bonus miles and points
Many cards will offer bonus miles or points on your card’s anniversary as a great incentive to keep your airline card year after year.
Some are awarded no matter what, while others require a certain amount of spending on the card in a year.
But, they’re still free rewards you can use towards your next redemption.
Credit card perks offered by hotel credit cards
If you’re not the flying type, or prefer hotel rewards instead, hotel credit cards also offer ways to save you money.
16. Free night hotel stays
By far the best hotel credit card perk is getting free hotel nights. These are awarded either on the card’s anniversary, after spending a certain amount in one year, or both.
You’ll then get a certificate you can use to stay for free at up to a certain room or hotel category. These certificates are valid for one year.
And with them, start staying at hotels for free. Thee free night stays are usually enough to cover the annual fee of the card.
17. Automatic elite hotel status
For more benefits and perks while staying, some hotel credit cards will hand out automatic elite hotel status just for having the card.
Get things like bonus points on stays and automatic free room upgrades on any paid stay, depending on the exact type of status awarded.
And you can use the status handed out by the card as a springboard towards an even higher distinction status.
Rare credit card perks
The perks listed here are quite rare, and are only offered by a select few cards.
18. Complimentary roadside assistance
Stuck on the side of the road? Roadside assistance will come along and save the day. Get your vehicle towed, battery charged, or assistance when you’re locked out of your vehicle.
Many credit cards offer a number you can call, but you still have to pay for any services rendered.
Some cards, however, cover the services required for you. It’s a great perk to have when you might least expect it.
19. Advanced car rental status
Hotel programs aren’t the only places that credit cards offer advanced status – a select few credit cards also offer advanced status in car rental programs.
And with it, you’ll be able to get discounts and free upgrades whenever you rent a car.
Which of these perks haven’t you taken advantage of?
So while we use credit cards for convenience and rewards, there’s a lot more they can offer. It pays to know exactly what your credit card offers so you’re not missing out on its full potential.
On my last trip, my credit card offered a free checked bag, priority check-in, and boarding.
The free bag alone saved me $60, while both the priority check-in and boarding made my travelling life easier. These perks are not only great, but are also easy to use.
What perks do you have with your credit card?
Have you missed out on any of them in the past?
Let us know in the comments below.