When it comes to redeeming rewards, some credit cards offer a variety of ways to cash in. Cash back, travel, gift cards, and charitable donations are all potential options, depending on which card you get. Some rewards programs go one step further, offering access to VIP entertainment, travel, and culinary experiences—some of which aren’t available to the general public.
If you’re looking for opportunities to live your life more fully, your credit card may be your gateway. Here’s what you need to know.
Not all credit card rewards programs allow you to redeem your points, miles, or cash back for rewards experiences. But with the ones that do, these opportunities can be priceless.
Here are just a few examples of what’s available. Where the experience requires you to bid, we share the current bid at the time of this writing.
Marriott Bonvoy Moments
As a Marriott Bonvoy member, you can purchase or bid on packages that include VIP access to sporting events and music festivals, cooking masterclasses, and more. Here are just a few examples of what’s available as of June 2021:
- Workout with influencer fitness trainer, Derek Wu, at the Westin Nanjing Resort and Spa: Packages start at 20,000 points
- Meet Chance on the Bund and stay in a suite in Shanghai: Packages start at 60,000 points
- Watch the Michael McIntyre Live Show and Yas Marina Circuit Experience in Abu Dhabi: The current bid is 35,000 points
- Have a VIP experience at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island: Packages cost 160,000 points
Hilton Honors Experiences
With the Hilton Honors program, you can use your points to redeem or bid on a variety of experiences in music, sports, culture, and food. Some of the options previously offered include:
- Tickets to Fitz and the Tantrums: 65,000 points
- Exclusive wine tasting with Brandi Carlile: 50,000 points
- Golf and whiskey tasting in Edinburgh: 325,000 points
- Behind-the-scenes pass for ESPN’s College GameDay: The current bid is 50,000 points
World of Hyatt FIND Experiences
The hotel rewards program offers access to various experiences under the categories feel, fuel, and function. Here are a few examples:
- Guided hike with Ambassador Wolves: 21,429 points
- Surfing and culinary experience with executive chef Pierre Albaladejo: 250,000 points
- Aerial harness class with world-class performers: 21,249 points
- Exclusive chef’s table experience for two at Blue Duck Tavern: 42,857 points
NFL Extra Points Credit Card
Some credit cards may also offer their own special brand of experiences. With the NFL Extra Points Credit Card, for instance, die-hard NFL fans can enjoy game tickets and once-in-a-lifetime experiences with their favorite players and events. Examples include:
- Super Bowl sideline passes: 50,000 points
- VIP draft day experience: 5,000 to 50,000 points
- VIP training camp: 10,000 points
- Private player meet and greets: 25,000 points
If you’re hoping to maximize the value of your credit card rewards, it can be difficult to know whether redeeming them for experiences is the best option. Here are some things to think about as you consider how to use your rewards.
Run the Numbers When Possible
Most rewards programs don’t give you a cash price you can use to calculate how much value you’re getting with an experience redemption—one exception to that is World of Hyatt.
For example, the guided hike with Ambassador Wolves with World of Hyatt costs 21,429 points or $300, giving you a value of 1.40 cents per point, which is not bad. But your points could be worth more. Based on our analysis, Hyatt points are worth 2.01 cents apiece when used to book hotel rooms. It’s up to you to decide whether you’d rather save those points for hotel stays or not.
Rewards points values can vary wildly depending on what you’re paying for. As a rule of thumb, redemption values of 1 cent or more per point are good. Anything below that you should consider carefully.
Think About the Value to You
With other programs, it’ll be tougher to find out how much value you’re getting for each point or mile. As a result, you’ll need to consider instead how much the experience is worth it to you.
If you’re a huge NFL fan, for example, getting sideline passes at the Super Bowl may be worth it regardless of how many points it takes.
Set Limits on Auctions
In cases where you need to bid on an experience, set a limit for yourself to avoid overpaying. Think about how much what you’re bidding on is worth to you and stop when you reach your ceiling. With some programs, you can set your max bid from the start and avoid getting caught up in a bidding war.
Check the Fine Print
Before you bid on or redeem your rewards for an experience, read the terms and conditions of the offer. If it’s a tour in another state or country, for instance, find out whether it includes travel and accommodations, or if you have to pay out of pocket for those expenses.
Also, check to see if there’s a cancellation policy in case you can’t make it or if there are any other terms that can affect your ability to enjoy the experience.
If you have points or miles with a program that offers rewards experiences, they can be a worthy option. That’s especially the case if you’re passionate about something and can find an experience that matches it.
As with any other redemption option, however, take some time to consider what else you can do with those points or miles. If you’d rather get a free flight or hotel stay on your next trip, hold onto your rewards. But if you don’t have any other plans for those points or miles or you’re sitting on a mountain of rewards and have some to spare, take a look at what’s available and use your rewards to enjoy something new.