December 8, 2022

5 Top Travel Credit Cards That Come With Private Travel Perks

Condé Nast Traveler has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Condé…

5 Top Travel Credit Cards That Come With Private Travel Perks

Condé Nast Traveler has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Condé Nast Traveler and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. We don’t review or include all companies, or all available products. Moreover, the editorial content on this page was not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are entirely those of Condé Nast Traveler’s editorial team.

Savvy travelers the right credit card can unlock a bevy of useful benefits. Whether a card lets you skip foreign transaction fees or earn triple the miles on airfare, the right piece of plastic can put the world at your fingertips. But these five cards go a step further, granting impressive perks that give users a taste of private, exclusive travel opportunities they might not otherwise get to experience.

For airport lounge access all over the world

Of all the co-branded credit cards issued by the three major U.S. airlines, American’s Citi AAdvantage Executive card has the most generous benefits. In addition to free checked baggage, a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry credit, the card grants you free Admirals Club membership and access to their network of about 50 lounges all over the world, from Tampa to Buenos Aires, as long as you’re flying American or a partner airline on the same day.

You can add up to ten authorized users at no cost, which means you can also give ten family members or friends lounge access—no need to travel together. The card’s $450 annual fee is cheaper than an Admirals membership, and if you split the fee eleven ways with your authorized users, it’ll cost even less than a single day pass into the club.

Learn more about applying for the Citi AAdvantage Executive card here.

For VIP hotel treatment

Let’s start with the best perk of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: It gives you Hilton Honors Diamond status automatically—no hotel stays necessary. It’s their highest elite tier, and offers myriad benefits when you stay at a Hilton property: free daily breakfast for you and a guest; space-available room upgrades at the chain’s luxury, lifestyle and full-service brands at outposts of its luxury, lifestyle, and full-service brands; and executive lounge access, regardless of whether you’re staying on an executive floor or not.

Executive lounges are a great place to relax after a long day, especially when they bring out the complimentary evening spread, ranging from hors d’oeuvres to full dinners. Better yet, once you achieve a certain number of stays as a Diamond elite, you can even gift someone status during their next Hilton stay. With an annual fee of $450 and credits amounting to over $500, it’s a card that pays for itself.

Learn more about applying for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card here.

For exclusive event tickets and packages 

The Citi Premier card carries a number of benefits, including Citi Entertainment (formerly known as “Citi Private Pass,”) which grants access to pre-sale or preferred tickets, and VIP experiences. In the past, it’s included concert tickets to see performers like Billy Joel, Halsey, and Kelly Clarkson; and sport tickets to the Honda Classic golf tournament or spring training with the New York Mets. It even offered the opportunity for post-show and post-game meet-and-greets with performers and athletes. 

Nowadays, most of its offerings are virtual—such as this year’s digital PaleyFest and a virtual wine tasting—but tickets for Lady Gaga’s The Chromatica Ball tour are already on pre-sale for this summer. If you want to get outside, you can also book tee times at private country clubs all over the U.S.