The new year brings a zero balance to most of our elite status counters, though there are lots of ways to stack up miles and points to redeem for travel later in the year. But once you've earned all those points, do you really know what they get you?
Here, we rounded up seven lesser-known loyalty program perks that you might have overlooked. While they may not apply to everyone, those with relevant status or credit cards may be surprised at what they've been missing out on. Others might decide that these perks are valuable enough that they need to jump on the bandwagon themselves.
1. Sharing airline club membership
One of the most popular perks of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is that an authorized user can be added to the card without any additional cost. Since the card comes with complimentary Admirals Club membership, you can extend access to a family member or friend by making them an authorized user. Additionally, cardholders can bring two guests into the lounge with them.
Obviously, you would only want to add someone you trust as an authorized user. If you get this card for the club access alone, you can lower the credit limit so there is less exposure to anyone putting unwanted charges on your card.
» Learn more: Citi AAdvantage Executive review: Your key to the club
2. You can share your elite status through World of Hyatt Guest of Honor
World of Hyatt permits top-tier Globalist members to share their status benefits with others by making award bookings for them. This perk means that benefits like late checkout, free breakfast and suite upgrades can be enjoyed by those who don’t get to travel as much.
3. Free parking and waived resort fees for World of Hyatt Globalists
World of Hyatt Globalist members don’t need to pay for parking when staying on award bookings. This could present hefty savings in big cities where parking prices are sky-high. Note that this perk is only valid at hotels that run their own parking facility.
When staying at resorts, Globalists can also get those pesky resort fees waived, regardless of whether they’re redeeming points or booking a paid rate. Resort fees for all other Hyatt elite members are waived on award bookings.
4. Earn points after referring friends to Marriott Bonvoy
Marriott Bonvoy can dish up points after you persuade others to sign up. Members can earn up to 50,000 bonus points per year after referring new members. Refer up to five new members each calendar year — once a friend joins, both of you will earn 2,000 bonus points for each of their first five stays.
5. Free reciprocal elite status
If you’re a United MileagePlus Premier Gold, Premier Platinum or Premier 1K member, you may not realize that you qualify for Marriott elite status too. Simply link your Marriott Bonvoy and United MileagePlus accounts to take advantage of this perk.
United’s most frequent flyers are gifted Marriott Bonvoy Gold status, which comes with bonus points and potential room upgrades. It works in reverse, too, with Marriott’s Titanium and Ambassador Elite members receiving automatic United MileagePlus Premier Silver status. Though it's United’s lowest level status, Premier Silver still includes perks like a free checked bag, bonus miles on flights and space-available seat upgrades.
6. Jump to the front of the car rental line
Many airlines offer elite status with car rental partners for their most frequent flyers. Delta offers top-level President’s Circle status with Hertz to its Platinum and Diamond Medallion members. Qualifying Medallion members just need to link their Delta and Hertz accounts to receive these benefits.
United MileagePlus Premier Platinum and 1K members qualify for Hertz President’s Circle status. This benefit is also extended to those with a United Club℠ Infinite Card or United℠ Presidential Plus℠ Card.
Hertz President’s Circle status comes with a one-class car rental upgrade, expedited car rental pickup and valet service back to the airport following a car dropoff.
7. Free or discounted Clear membership
The Clear expedited security-line program is available in more than 60 airports, stadiums and other venues nationwide. Clear lets you identify yourself via fingerprint or iris scan instead of presenting physical identification. Annual membership costs $179 but is free to Delta Diamond Medallion members and United Premier 1K members. Other elite members with Delta and United are eligible for discounted Clear memberships.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Credit cards with TSA Precheck or Global Entry credits Use your Clear membership to skip the line at Hertz Find the best travel credit card for you