We all know that credit card rewards come in all shapes and sizes, and that the best rewards credit cards can give you access to travel discounts, frequent flier miles, cash back on gas, promotions for hotels and rental cars, and cash back rewards for everyday purchases like groceries and clothes. Other common features include points per dollar spent on purchases and balance transfers, as well as cards carrying 0 intro APR, and rewards programs offering discounts on certain eligible purchases.
But we’re guessing you already knew about this stuff. In short, Mint explains that “Many credit cards offer users the opportunity to earn rewards for spending a certain amount or meeting another set of criteria. These perks usually have monetary value, like points that can be spent on certain products and services or simple cash rewards.”
Naturally, credit card rewards are the fun part of credit card usage. And if you know how to do it right and responsibly, your rewards credit card could be the ticket to smarter spending habits and more savings. But what about some of the more unusual perks out there, like a rewards program based on using your credit card to pay rent, or a VIP program that guarantees the best hotel price, or a credit card that gives you free access to museums across the US?
All these rewards exist and more. Read on for a look at cool credit card rewards you might not have known about…
9 of the Best Rewards Credit Cards
1. Help With the Rent
Not only is it usually not recommended that you use your credit card to pay rent, but it’s generally not even allowed. As a fact, most credit card companies will not process rent payments. But that’s where the Bilt Rewards Mastercard® is a little different. Not only can you pay rent with this Mastercard, but you are actually given several incentives to do so.
According to Nerdwallet, the Bilt Rewards card “not only rewards holders for paying rent with the card but doesn’t charge a fee for letting you do so. In addition to rewards for dining and travel, the card pays 1 point per $1 spent on rent (up to 50,000 points annually).”
Now here’s the thing…putting rent on your credit card does have some risks. Rent is likely your biggest expense each month, which means it’s a large expense to put on an interest bearing account. So the only way this works out is if you are prepared to pay that bill off in full each month. In other words, you aren’t using this Mastercard in lieu of paying rent from your bank account. You are simply using it as a middle man so you can reap big batches of reward points every month.
That’s a pretty unusual perk, but if you use it right, your rent could actually be cheaper.
2. Triple Zero
As unusual perks go, how about a credit card that you can get with zero credit checks, zero minimum security deposit and zero APR? That would be the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card.
In this regard though, Chime really is designed for beginners who are just building their credit. According to Nerdwallet, “To be eligible for the card, you’re required to have a Chime Spending Account that has received at least $200 in direct deposits within the past 365 days. And as with other cards aimed at beginners, there are no ongoing rewards, nor is there a way to upgrade to a different product eventually.”
For those just learning the ropes of responsible credit card spending habits, Chime is a unique offer that doesn’t penalize you just for being young.
3. Feeling Tense?
How about a back rub. Sorry. We’re not trying to be creepy. We’re just pointing out that if you are among the select few individuals in possession of a Platinum Card from American Express, a massage is just one of the many perks that comes with access to the American Express Centurion Lounge. Of course, plenty of credit cards offer access to airport lounges, but the Centurion is the airport lounge. Bottom line, once you’re in, you’ve got access to gourmet meals prepared by award winning chefs, top shelf cocktails served by professional mixologists, and in some of its 40+ locations, complimentary spa treatments and massages.
The Centurion Lounge is so nice that you might even consider visiting it on a day when you have no plans to fly. Then again, with the American Express Platinum, you may just come up with any old excuse to travel. That’s because this premium travel rewards card offers 5x points per dollar spent on flights and hotels.
It’s worth noting that you will pay a fairly steep price to access these benefits. According to one source, the annual fee for the Platinum card is more than $500. That said, you could make that money back in savings on a single trip because your Platinum Card offers members a $200 Uber credit, a $200 hotel credit, and a $200 flight credit just to start with.
4. Insured Phone for the Accident Prone
You know that smartphone that you’re constantly pulling out of your pocket, placing down on bartops and restaurant tables, and holding outside the car window on the quest for the perfect roadsize vista photographs? Yeah, that thing that we all wave around with reckless abandon is worth like $600 bucks out of the box. You don’t think about it because the payment plan for this extravagant item is usually included as part of your monthly cell phone bill.
But of course, if you accidentally drop your phone off the side of a cliff while on holiday, you’ll become all too aware of your phone’s value. That’s why the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card is awesome for travelers. According to Wells Fargo, Active Cash comes with a unique cell phone insurance policy built in. You might pay $9 to $15 per month to your cell phone provider for partial insurance coverage.
By contrast, Wells Fargo offers complimentary and comprehensive coverage which “reimburses You for the cost to repair or replace the Cell Phone in the event it is Damaged, Stolen, or is unrecoverable due to Involuntary and Accidental Parting. Cracked screens, cosmetic damage or scratches that do not impact the Cell Phone’s capabilities or functionality are not covered.”
In other words, if you damage your phone, make sure you really do a number on it…accidentally of course!
Other cool Wells Fargo Active Cash rewards include a waiver for damage caused by a collision with a rental car, roadside assistance, and access to emergency cash advances.
5. That’s the Ticket!
Event attendance costs way too much money. The crazy surcharges, the overpriced merchandise, the $40 lite beer…it’s the kind of thing that makes you want to stay home and just watch things happen on TV. But what fun is that?
Fortunately, for those of us who simply must get out of the house for a good time, there is the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card. This rewards credit card offers an unusually high rate of return on your entertainment purchases. According to Money Under 30, “the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is offering a whopping 8% cash back when purchasing tickets for live sports, concerts and theater events through Vivid Seats. There’s no cap on how much you can earn, and you’ll get that 8% back on the total ticket price (including tax and fees).”
That’s an extremely high rate of return, one that might even make up for those surcharges. As it happens, this Capital One card also offers comparatively high cash back rewards for everyday purchases. You’ll get a robust 3% rate of return when you shop for groceries and 4% back when you pay your streaming services, or dine out using your Savor Cash rewards credit card, and 5% back on hotel bookings and rental cars. The SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card offers similar perks but is available to applicants with ‘Good” credit, whereas the Savor Cash card is only available to those with “Excellent” credit.
There is a pretty significant difference for those with Good vs. Excellent credit. Those with Excellent credit can enjoy the perks of the SavorOne card with 15 month 0 intro APR followed by an available APR thereafter of 19.99% to 29.99%. By contrast, those who only have “Good” credit will open their account with a 30.49% variable APR.
6. Guaranteed Best Prices on Hotels and Rental Cars
It’s one thing to get money back on your hotels and rental cars when you use your credit card rewards program. But it’s another thing altogether when your rewards credit card actively seeks out the very best price for you. But that’s something you’ll get with Priceline VIP Rewards credit cards from Barclays.
According to Priceline, VIP members enjoy a “best price guarantee” or, claims the online travel agency, “we’ll refund the difference.”
This money back guarantee distinguishes Priceline from other travel rewards credit cards. Another unique feature is the way that Priceline allows you to unlock and access greater membership benefits the more you travel. This includes graduating exclusive discounts on hotels and rental cars booked through Priceline, automatic coupons with each booking securing between 5% and 10% off of your next trip, and add-on deals providing steep discounts when you add services and bookings to an already existing trip.
And if all of that wasn’t enough, Priceline’s website seems to imply that you can actually get a Priceline VIP card customized to bear the likeness of William Shatner.
7. Beam Me Up
Speaking of William Shatner, if you’re into the whole outer space thing, there is a credit card designed just for you. The NASA Federal VISA Platinum Advantage Rewards credit card not only offers several rocket-ship themed custom designs, but for a brief time in 2015, you could even order a customized Star Trek credit card with special rewards for users spending on Star Trek memorabilia, events, and conventions.
At present, the Star Trek offer no longer appears on the NASA Federal Credit Union’s website. However, it does list a bevy of cool rewards including a 1 points per dollar membership program, an APR as low as 9.4% for balance transfers, and offers for bonus points when you spend with an extremely long list of partnered merchants and vendors.
And once again, you have three cool aerospace-themed card designs to choose from. No word yet on whether the NASA Federal Credit Union will soon be issuing cash back rewards on flights booked to space or revisiting its popular Star Trek design.
8. The Apple Core
Apple products may be awesome but they are also crazy expensive. There’s not much you can do to make a brand new iPhone, Apple Watch, or MacBook Pro cheap. If only there was a way to use your credit card membership rewards points to pay for your Apple products.
Actually, there is a way. That’s what makes the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards so cool. The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal is a window into savings on some pretty primo stuff. You can also use your points to pay for things at Amazon. And since Amazon has all the things, that opens a pretty big door on your opportunity for savings with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
Chase Dining also offers the opportunity to use your points for meals through countless participating restaurants, discounts when you book hotels using your points, and much more. The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is open to holders of various Chase credit card offers. This includes the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card, which offers 0 intro APR for 15 months from account opening; the Chase Freedom Flex Credit Card, which offers 5% cashback on travel purchases; the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which allows you to “Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening”; and numerous other generous rewards cards.
Holders of the Sapphire card, which does include an annual fee of $95, will reap $750 in travel rewards when applied to the $4,000 in travel purchases noted above directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. This feature alone makes the Sapphire card from Chase one of the best rewards credit cards for travelers.
9. Card for Art’s Sake
If you happen to be both a lover of fine arts and a savvy credit card holder, you may want to consider the Merrill Lynch branded Credit Card from Bank of America. That’s because just being a cardholder automatically gives you access to more than 225 art museums nationwide entirely for free on the first day of every month.
Bank of America’s Museums on Us program is designed to both reward credit card holders and to support the arts. You can check out a state by state listing of participating museums on the Bank of America site.
You can gain access to this program through an array of credit card offers including the Merrill Lynch Bank of America Premium Rewards Elite Credit Card, which grants 2 membership rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining; the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card, which comes with perks like roadside assistance and extended warranties on certain appliances; and the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card, which offers the “Flexibility to redeem points for a statement credit for travel purchases such as flights, hotel stays, vacation rentals, or baggage fees, as well as for restaurant purchases — including takeout.”
This means you can enjoy the museum access benefits that distinguish Merrill Lynch’s Bank of America partnership whilel choosing from the credit card rewards programs that best match your lifestyle and spending habits.
Of course, most of the cards outlined above come with their own unique travel rewards features. But what if you’re planning on traveling overseas? How many of these rewards credit cards actually apply?
Well, from the foreign transaction fee to the currency exchange rate; from ATM access to unique benefits geared toward those venturing abroad, there are several important factors to consider as you think about how to do your booking, shopping, and dining overseas. Fortunately we’ve got all kinds of great tips on credit cards that minimize or eliminate foreign transaction fees, offset foreign exchange rates, and offer great benefits for those going international this travel season.
Before pulling out your passport and traveling somewhere, make sure you take time looking for cards that give you rewards for international travel. This can give you some great travel perks and can also help you save money!