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Latest credit card perk: free museum admission on weekends

Matt Schulz

Bank of America cardholders, if you’re looking for a free way to get out of the summer heat over Labor Day weekend, try your local museum.

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Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Brooks Walker

The bank’s Museums on Us program provides Bank of America credit or debit card holders with one free general admission to 150 different museums, zoos, science centers and more around the country on the first full weekend of every month through the end of the year. That include Labor Day weekend, September 3 and 4. Some people will find the program lacking — for example, 22 states have no museums participating — but it’s just another example of a perk given by a card issuer to lure new cardholders and keep current ones happy.

For example, American Express promotes its concierge service, which purports to be able to help you buy hard-to-get tickets to concerts or land a table at an exclusive restaurant. Also, Discover is giving away $1 million at the end of 2011 to one lucky cardholder and every purchase you make with a Discover card gets you another entry in the contest. And earlier this year, Capital One gave out 1 billion miles in 25 days as part of its Match My Miles Challenge promoting its Venture card. In that promotion, Capital One offered to match up to 100,000 of the miles people had on their existing airline cards if they signed up for a Venture card.

While BofA’s museum program may not be as splashy as those other offers, the savings are very real. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City — one of the world’s truly great art museums — is participating in the program. Admission to the Met costs $25 per adult. So if you and your spouse are both BofA cardholders, you can save $50 on a nice date night spent gazing at paintings by impressionist masters and then put the money you save toward a late dinner. (Or just pocket it. That’d be fine, too.)

Other highlights from the eclectic list of participating museums:
– The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago
– The NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
– The Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn.
– The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta.
– The Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, Calif.

You can visit museums.bankofamerica.com to see the full list. Again, a big slice of the country isn’t represented. For example, big cities such as Denver, New Orleans, Honolulu and even my hometown of Austin are left off. But even so, it’s good to see issuers — who spent much of the last three years slashing credit limits, closing accounts and generally hacking off the American consumer — giving something back.

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