The Events You Can Get Into Thanks to Airline, Credit Card and Hotel Programs

Aug 18, 2017

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Did you know that many airlines, hotels and credit card issuers offer experiences that can be purchased with cash or with points/miles? These experiences range from concerts to sporting events to trips. Sometimes there are very good values to be had — and these programs often give you access to otherwise unobtainable opportunities. For example, TPG has taken advantage of the SPG Moments program to see basketball events at Madison Square Garden.

I recently returned from the Walker Stalker Cruise with cast members of The Walking Dead courtesy of Delta SkyMiles Experiences. I won an auction by bidding 128,000 SkyMiles for the trip for two. As the trip was worth well over $2,000, this was certainly a good deal. The experience included a photo with one of the show’s stars, Norman Reedus. In the past I’ve attended Billy Joel concerts at Madison Square Garden courtesy of Citi Private Pass, with a private reception before the show as well as access to the soundcheck. The price of the experience was less than the normal cost of the concert ticket alone.

The following programs offer experiences either for sale or via the use of points in a purchase or an auction format. If any of these options catch your eye, make to sure to check the sites regularly, as the offerings change frequently.

Airline Programs

Bid SkyMiles for experiences such as a three-night stay in New York.

American Airlines Celebrity Events — American’s AAdvantage Auction site is no longer operational, but you can spend money to be a part of high-end AA events that raise money for various causes. Seasonal offerings include an annual charity ski weekend. Next year’s will be held from March 1-4, 2018 in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Delta SkyMiles Experiences — Online auction that lets you bid SkyMiles for trips, concerts and other events. Current offerings include a seven-night vacation to Maui and tickets to School of Rock on Broadway with the opportunity to meet one of the show’s stars.

United Airlines Mileage Plus Exclusives — Online auction that lets United flyers bid MileagePlus miles for sporting, theater, dining and other events. Additional experiences are available for United Airlines credit card holders and MileagePlus elite members. Current offerings include VIP access to the Emmys and dinner at Michelin-starred restaurant Smyth in Chicago.

Hotel Programs

TPG Associate Editor Emily McNutt took part in a tennis clinic at the US Open with Andy Roddick through SPG Moments.

Hilton Honors Auctions — Primarily concert tickets available for bidding using Honors points. Current offerings include Depeche Mode and Janet Jackson. You can also bid points for experiences such as a Bollywood-focused trip to Mumbai, India.

IHG Rewards Club Auctions — Bid on travel and sporting events using IHG points. Current offerings include a Las Vegas spa getaway and tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld in New York City.

Marriott Rewards Experiences Marketplace — Bid Marriott Rewards points (or SPG points via transfer) for concert and sporting events. Current offerings include the Warped Rewind at Sea Cruise featuring Good Charlotte and other bands, and field passes and suite seats to a Washington Redskins game. See Nick Ewen’s post on the Marriott Rewards Experiences Marketplace for more info.

SPG Moments — You can either bid or purchase events with Starpoints (or Marriott Rewards points via transfer) for concerts, sporting events and more. Current offerings include access to the Alice + Olivia fashion show at New York Fashion Week and box seats for a Chicago Cubs game. SPG Moments also tends to offer a variety of experiences around the US Open.

Credit Card Programs

Chase Inside Access offers cardholders the opportunity to purchase VIP experiences.

American Express By Invitation Only — Shopping, dining and sporting event experiences available for purchase with either Membership Rewards points or cash. Current offerings include a Napa Valley Harvest getaway and VIP access to the Dubai Grand Prix.

Chase Inside Access — Experiences for purchase including dining, theater and sporting events. Current offerings include a private evening with Mary Wilson of The Supremes at the Apollo Theater for $200 per person.

Citi Private Pass — Music, sports, dining and entertainment experiences for purchase. Certain events are specifically for premium cardholders (i.e., the Citi Prestige Card). Occasionally there are free events available ranging from talks to movie screenings to concerts. Current offerings include Arcade Fire and Lionel Richie concert tickets.

Mastercard Priceless Experiences — Experiences available for purchase including hard-to-get Broadway show tickets (i.e., Dear Evan Hansen) and golf clinics with pros.

Have you redeemed points for an experience from one of these programs?

Featured image courtesy of the Walker Stalker Cruise.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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