Paying With Credit Card On Laptop
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Benefits are worth $0 unless you actually use them…

There’s so much talk about this card doing this, that card being able to do that – but the only benefits that matter are the ones you can actually take advantage of. Who cares if a card can save you $5,000 on business class if you’d never pay the first $5,000 needed to take advantage? Each year we take inventory of the credit card benefits that actually benefited us, and which ones probably need to get the chuck. Here are the benefits that paid their own annual fees.

a restaurant with a staircase and chairsPriority Pass Airport Lounge Access

Credit Card: Offered via Amex Platinum, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige.

Usage: In places like Europe and Southeast Asia, you’re crazy if you don’t take advantage of the incredibly cheap deals on discount airlines. PriorityPass is the great trick in this pursuit, offering lounge access regardless which airline you fly. With two people regularly traveling, who value lounge access at $25 per visit, per person, this benefit gained easily $300 of value this year. Of course, if you only fly business and always have lounge access, it’s useless.

a pool with palm trees and chairs4th Night Free Hotel Benefit

Credit Card: Citi Prestige World Elite Mastercard

Usage: From Citi’s standpoint, this is a genius benefit, because most frequent travelers never stay four nights anywhere. However, we managed to find occasions this year where Citi Prestige’s 4th Night Free benefit did save $100’s of dollars. On a recent trip to Laos, the online interface offered the same price as booking direct with the hotel via their 30% off sale, but also included the 4th night free, saving over $200 in one go. This benefit combined with the $250 annual fee credit and Priority Pass makes the card a keeper, for now.

a silver car parked on a concrete surfacePrimary Rental Car Coverage

Credit Card: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Usage: We don’t rent cars with any great frequency, but since Chase Sapphire Preferred only carries an annual fee of $95, this benefit is extremely solid. This benefit saved at least $75, and probably more like $150 over the course of rentals around the world, which makes paying the modest annual for a year of strong earning and valuable points seem all the more worthwhile.

a group of currency bills and coinsAnd That’s Literally It

Everyones experience with credit cards and benefits will be different, but for us at GSTP, those were the only real benefits of consequence. We didn’t have any flight delays long enough to have trip delay coverage kick in, we didn’t break our phones, we didn’t have any flight purchases which would’ve benefited from the International Airline Program, and we didn’t need a concierge to do what OpenTable already does. If your experience is completely different, that’s great, this is just a reminder to actually hold some account for the benefits you consume, rather than just pay for.

How do you square your benefits paid versus benefits consumed?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Really? I love my platinum-besides Amex offers (saved $ this year and got already about 15,000 amex points extra), used my uber credits (sadly only 3X), got free breakfast with Hilton twice, used the Centurion lounge twice and additional priority pass lounge once, got $200 in airline gift cards reimbursed, and just got $50 credit for Saks. I’ve used it for the 5X for airlines and hotel booking-that really helps. And the year is still young.
    I did have the prestige once upon a time but did not get much value from it. I also now have the reserve and use it a lot at restaurants.

  2. Glad to hear that you haven’t been stuck in a trip delay/cancellation claim loop. Took me 4 months from start to finish. Was glad to get reimbursed for about 85% of the incurred expenses. The third party benefits administer denied my gas expenses because no receipt was provide although the credit card transaction clearly showed the amount, time, and place. The outside point-of-sale ran out of paper.

    I truly enjoy your blog and perspectives. Keep up the good work.

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