You can get in free to major museums across the U.S. if you carry a credit or debit card issued by Bank of America or Merrill Lynch—but only on the first full weekend of the month. Next qualifying weekends this summer are July 7-8 and August 4-5, 2012.
More than 150 cultural institutions in 31 states will let you in free on those weekends if you show a photo ID along with a qualifying credit or debit card. Among them are many of the most prestigious art museums in the country, including the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Also on the list are children's museums, science centers and natural history museums, zoos, aquariums, and planetariums.
Cost of museum entry has become prohibitive in recent years, with general admission for one adult at the Metropolitan (for example) at $25, and annual membership for a couple at the Philadelphia Museum of Art at $115. Obviously, this particular card member benefit can save culture buffs lots of cash, as long as you plan visits around qualifying weekends.
To see which museums made the list, go to the Museums on Us page on the Bank of America website and click on the "locate a museum near you" button. You can also register there for text or email reminders when the next eligible weekend rolls around.
Fodors.com contributor Cathleen McCarthy is the rewards expert for CreditCards.com and covers entertainment and travel deals on her own network, Save on Cities. Her stories have appeared in The Washington Post, WSJ, Amtrak ARRIVE, Town & Country, and inflight magazines.