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Get set for summer by taking advantage of the benefits your credit cards offer. The Nerds have ideas for Father’s Day, weddings and more.

Celebrate your dad

This month brings us Dad’s day to celebrate, on June 18. Instead of a shirt or a new grill, why not give him an experience he’ll remember forever? Through Mastercard’s Priceless Golf, your dad can play a round at one of the private TPC golf clubs throughout the U.S. Or splurge on the PGA Tour Player Experience at TPC Sawgrass in Florida, where The Players Championship is held each year.

For the wine lover, Visa Signature offers special tastings at more than 50 wineries in California’s Sonoma County and discounts on wine. With a regular Visa card, you can purchase tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial Tour in Honolulu and receive a 75th anniversary souvenir tag.

Want to see Queen perform this summer? Or join Don Henley’s 70th birthday celebration in Dallas? American Express cardholders get presale access or preferred seating for these and dozens of concerts, theater and sporting events around the world.

Or if you just want to get Dad a new drill, sawhorses, combination square or whatever, Discover’s cash-back credit cards have home improvement stores as a bonus category through June 2017. You’ll need to opt in to get the bonus cash back. See details here.

Ring the wedding bells

Weddings are a big deal and carry a big price tag. In 2016, the average U.S. wedding cost about $35,000, according to TheKnot.com. And that figure doesn’t include the honeymoon. Savvy cardholders can earn rewards or save on interest if they play their cards right.

Food and drink for the wedding guests are among the largest expenses. Using a credit card like the Capital One® Premier Dining Rewards Credit Card that offers bonus rewards for dining may offset the cost a bit, but only if your reception is at a restaurant. Otherwise, your best bet is a flat-rate cash-back card, one that pays the same rate for all purchases. In addition to its opt-in 5% bonus categories, the Discover it® – Cashback Match™ gives you 1% cash back on all spending and matches the rewards you earn in your first year, essentially making it a 2% card for new cardholders. The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer also pays 1% on purchases but gives you another 1% when you pay them off. That offers a powerful incentive to pay your balance in full (which is how newlyweds should manage their credit cards anyway). If you need time to pay down wedding bills, look for a cash-back credit card with a long interest-free period for new cardholders, such as the  Chase Freedom® or the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠.

Looking to ease the cost of the honeymoon? Consider putting wedding expenses (and regular living expenses) on a new travel credit card. The spending can earn you a sign-up bonus big enough to save hundreds of dollars on your trip. If you do, however, make sure to pay your credit card bill in full every month. Travel cards generally don’t come with 0% periods, and the interest you pay on carried balances will eat away at your savings.

Check your credit card account every week

With credit card fraud increasing and data breaches being reported frequently, you need to mind your credit card account. Issuers will contact you if they see an unusual charge on your credit card or if your card has been compromised in a breach. And zero fraud liability on most cards means you won’t have to pay anything. But you should still be vigilant. Checking your account and card activity online is simple and can take less than a minute, so look at it every week. See that charges or payments you’ve made have been posted, and be sure the transactions are all yours.

Let your issuer know you’re away

When you’re preparing to leave for vacation, don’t forget to notify your credit card issuer that you’ll be using your card someplace other than home for a period of time. You don’t want to get to Prague and find out your credit card has been blocked. Most issuers’ sites let you put in a vacation notice for the dates you’ll be away. And it’s probably a good idea to let a trusted neighbor know you’ll be gone, too. 

Ellen Cannon is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ecannon@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ellencannon.

>> MORE TIPS: Browse our archive of credit card tips

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