At a Glance

For so many, moments matter much more than possessions. With Millennials and Gen-Z leading the charge, there’s been a huge shift in focus from tangible goods to unforgettable experiences. The summer of 2023 was punctuated by Taylor Swift and Beyoncé concerts, where the ticket stubs and stageside selfies were cherished mementos of unforgettable nights. This shift, immediately following an upswing in post-pandemic travel, marks a cultural move towards valuing moments that create lasting memories over material accumulation.

Choosing the right credit card for travel, concerts, events, and holidays is crucial, as it can unlock exclusive benefits, elevate experiences, and maximize rewards tailored to your lifestyle, ensuring memorable moments and substantial savings. This gift-giving season, having a credit card on hand with the purchasing power to provide experiences — and simultaneously fund more — can garner a bigger bang for your buck.

The Experience Economy

The allure of the experience economy lies in its promise of unforgettable adventures. Fuelled by FOMO — the Fear of Missing Out — individuals are increasingly drawn to unique experiences. Travel, concerts, festivals, and exclusive events are no longer just indulgences; they’re life-enhancing opportunities. In the first six months of 2023, Ticketmaster alone sold almost 300 million event tickets for an 18% increase over the previous year. People are doing more than ever before.

In a trends report from LaneTerralever, 93% of people surveyed say they plan to visit attractions the same amount or more often in 2024 than they did in 2023. What’s more, Gen Z respondents are the group with the “most positive sentiment heading into next year” where experiences are concerned. And in this particular era (pun totally intended), credit cards are a crucial way to elevate these experiences.

From 2019 to 2023, spending on experiences has skyrocketed a full 65% in the U.S., according to Mastercard’s Travel Industry Trends Report. Just think about the potential impact of credit card rewards and benefits on your future adventures. Wouldn’t you like to enjoy exclusive lounge access before a flight, secure VIP seats at a sold-out concert, or gain backstage passes to meet your favorite artist? With the right credit card, you can.

Delayed Financial Milestones

This shift towards experience-focused spending, especially with credit cards, isn’t without a few drawbacks. It’s led to delays in reaching traditional milestones like homeownership, marriage, and family planning.

According to a Bank of America study, more than half of Gen Zers surveyed point to a high cost of living as a hindrance to their financial success, with 73% saying they have made lifestyle changes and adjusted spending habits due to inflation. At this point, approximately 75% of Gen Zers are hesitant to set long-term financial goals because of the current state of the economy in the U.S., according to an Intuit study. So, their savings aren’t going toward retirement funds and mortgages like generations prior.

This paints a picture of how Gen Z is dealing with financial challenges, prioritizing experiences promoting personal growth and well-being, and reevaluating their financial strategies in response to the rising cost of living.

While the allure of momentous experiences is undeniable, it’s also essential to strike a balance. Choosing experiences over possessions can impact long-term financial goals, potentially affecting wealth accumulation and retirement savings.

The best credit cards for experiences including concerts, travel and holiday experiences

Ready to throw down some plastic for your next big adventure or fund one as a holiday gift? Below, we break down the best credit cards for each type of experience:

A look at the best travel rewards credit cards

Use these credit cards to earn valuable points on everyday purchases. Then, redeem points later to fund your tickets, upgrade your seat, or to access benefits like travel insurance and lounge access.

Learn more: Best Travel Credit Cards

A look at the best concerts and events credit cards

Aside from racking up points for things you’re buying already, some credit cards come with exclusive access to concert and event pre-sale tickets. Keep in mind that some cards are artist and event-specific. For example, Capital One cardholders had the exclusive opportunity to secure tickets ahead of the public sale for Taylor Swift’s highly coveted Eras Tour, as Capital One was the official credit card sponsor for the event. However, you can also gain access to exclusive concerts by redeeming certain credit card’s reward points for VIP tickets, secure premium seating, and even enjoy exclusive perks like backstage tours and artist meet-and-greets.

Learn more: Best Credit Cards for Concert Tickets

A look at the best holiday-specific credit cards

Maximize your holiday celebrations by earning cash back rewards on dining and shopping during the festive season. This can result in significant savings on holiday expenses, allowing for extra indulgence without breaking the bank.

Bottom Line

Enticing experiences are everywhere, and the right credit card can be your ticket to extraordinary moments. As you explore the options, remember to align your choice with your lifestyle and aspirations. Embrace the thrill of unique adventures, but always keep an eye on your long-term financial goals. It’s not about sacrificing one for the other; it’s about finding the perfect balance to savor life’s moments while securing your future. So, go ahead, pick your card, and embark on your journey to a world filled with breathtaking experiences. After all, life is about creating memories that last a lifetime.