Holiday shopping can bring joy, but it can also be a source of stress. Fortunately, finding the perfect presents may be a bit easier this year, thanks to shifting consumer preferences. In a recent Eventbrite and Harris Poll survey, 63% of U.S. adults indicated that they’d prefer to receive experience gifts over material gifts, and 59% of gift-givers surveyed said it was easier to shop for experience gifts.
If you are on the hunt for the perfect experience gift, you might not have to look any further than your credit card rewards program. Several of the best travel credit cards offer platforms where customers can redeem their points for experiences, rather than just travel. This is a great business strategy, as it gives cardholders flexibility in how they use their points. Plus, it can help members gift outstanding experiences to loved ones this holiday season without adding financial stress.
Here are a few programs that offer experience-based rewards, and how you can gift those rewards to someone this holiday season.
Which credit card reward programs allow you to gift experiences?
Several rewards programs allow you to gift experiences using the points you have earned. If you have an excess of points, or simply have no use for them, gifting an experience can be a great gift this holiday season while spending no money out of your pocket.
Here are several programs that you can spend your points on for great experiences.
Chase Experiences program
The Chase Experiences program lets customers redeem Ultimate Rewards points for events such as sports matches, concerts, and film festivals. With this program, three different tiers will unlock various benefits.
- Select experiences: available to all Chase customers
- Preferred experiences: available to Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Business Preferred cardholders
- Reserve experiences: available to Chase Sapphire Reserve and J.P. Morgan Reserve cardmembers
With each tier, you will have access to different types of perks and events.
For example, all Chase cardmembers (Select) get special perks at several different venues throughout the United States. At arenas around the country such as Madison Square Garden in New York, there are great discounts on food and merchandise, along with Chase lounges to enjoy an exclusive experience. At the Chase lounges, you will have access to free food and drinks before selected concerts. You also get preferred seating options through Ticketmaster for concerts and other events.
At the Preferred experience level, you can enjoy events like Chase Sapphire Ski, which offers discounted lift passes on certain dates and even celebrity ski meet-and-greets. However, the current offers change often, so be sure to check into the Chase Experiences portal for the latest offers.
At the Reserve experience level, you will have access to VIP packages for events such as the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco, the PGA Championship, and Sundance Film Festival. In addition, there is a wide variety of culinary experiences to choose from world-renowned chefs. These exclusive events make the Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee that much more worth it.
Gifting one of these experiences is an excellent idea for the holiday season. However, each experience comes with individual terms and conditions. Be sure to read into the terms and conditions of each experience before you buy it. There may be an exclusion or note that applies to your purchase. For example, the experience could require the cardholder (you) to be present, or it may be non-transferable.
To start searching for an experience that could be a potential holiday gift, visit the Chase Experiences page and log into your Chase account. It will then route you to the appropriate page based on your level (Select, Preferred, or Reserve) within the program. You will then be served experiences that you can purchase with your points.
Amex Membership Rewards
If you earn American Express Membership Rewards, you are probably aware of their incredible value. Not only can you transfer them to various Amex travel partners, but you can also use them to purchase experiences for others.
You can find your perfect American Express Experience gift by clicking the drop-down menu and selecting “experiences.”
The experiences aren’t curated “experiences” per se, but rather gift cards for experiences such as Jackson Hole Resort in Wyoming. Some gift-givers may feel that gift cards are impersonal, but the right gift card can be a great gift. You can think of it as motivation for your giftee to finally accomplish that dream of skiing in Aspen they have been talking about for so long.
To purchase a gift card, select the experience you are interested in purchasing, and then choose the denomination you wish to give.
If you have multiple people you want to give gifts to, consider the other sections within the drop-down menu shown above. American Express has categories for air and lodging, car and rail, dining, entertainment, retail, and theme parks. Use your American Express Membership Rewards to find the perfect gift cards for everyone on your list from the comfort of your computer.
Keep in mind that this redemption is only valued at one cent per point, which isn’t that high. If you want to achieve the best possible value, you may want to save your points. However, if you want to save money this holiday season and still give an outstanding gift, your Amex Membership Rewards will work perfectly.
If you don’t have either an American Express or Chase card in your wallet, consider using your Marriott Bonvoy points or Delta SkyMiles miles to purchase an experience for your giftee.
Marriott Bonvoy Moments
Marriott Bonvoy Moments allow you to use your Marriott Bonvoy points for extraordinary experiences. Whether they are into sports, culinary arts, or unique lifestyle experiences, Marriott has something for your special someone.
You can pay for these experiences in two ways, either by purchasing a package or submitting an auction bid. Purchasing a package is very straightforward — select the experience, and the number of points needed will be deducted from your Marriott Bonvoy points. Experiences can cost anywhere from 17,500 points to over 400,000 points. If you choose to submit an auction bid for an experience, you will be bidding against other Bonvoy members to earn that experience. The process is similar to bidding on eBay.
Keep in mind that it’s a bit tricky to gift a Marriott Bonvoy Moment experience. According to the terms and conditions, many of the packages include a guest. However, experiences cannot be transferred. The best approach is to choose an experience you and your guest can both enjoy together.
Delta SkyMiles Experiences
Delta SkyMiles experiences provide loyal Delta SkyMiles customers an opportunity to use their miles outside of free flights. You can bid on a wide variety of experiences ranging from tickets to sporting events, luxury travel, concerts, and performances.
To redeem your SkyMiles for these experiences, you will have to participate in an auction or a flat “buy it now.” With auctions, you bid against other SkyMiles members to win an experience. When you purchase a “buy it now” experience, your miles will automatically be deducted from your SkyMiles account.
If you win an auction, Delta will contact you via email to ask for contact information. You can then give the contact information for your gift recipient. However, keep in mind that you will be responsible for replying to the email by 5 pm EST of the business day following the auction.
The final word on gifting experiences with points
Your points from credit cards are a way to enjoy the finer things in life without paying out of pocket. And if you’re feeling generous this holiday season, you can also use them to gift unique experiences to your loved ones. Not only will this lessen the stress of holiday shopping, but it will also provide your giftees with memorable experiences that won’t soon forget.