How You Can Get Warren Buffett-Style Shareholder PerksMost of us have 401(k) plans invested in a limited slate of predefined mutual funds. But for those of us willing to take the extra steps of opening a brokerage account and investing in stocks, there's more to be had than just the promise of better investment returns.

Some of America's best-known names also offer perks to their shareholders -- and not just big-money shareholders, either, but anyone who picks up even just a few shares of the company's stock.

In years past, Starbucks (SBUX) sent gift cards to shareholders with annual reports, while Walt Disney (DIS) used to offer investors free entry into a benefits-laden affinity program it called the Magic Kingdom Club. Both perks have since gone away as companies cut down on excesses in the name of a recession-induced quest for efficiency.

Still, there are plenty of perks to be had at some big-name companies. Here's a closer look at some of the best:

1. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) (BRK-B): Warren Buffett's holding company offers shareholders traveling to its May annual meeting a slew of benefits, including discounted auto insurance quotes from its GEICO subsidiary. There's also the intangible yet timeless benefit of experiencing live the wit and wisdom of Buffett and investing partner Charlie Munger.

2. Carnival (CCL) and Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL): Both operators offer shareholders onboard benefits indexed to the amount of time they spend at sea. Sail six nights or less with Carnival and you'll get a $50 credit during the trip. Royal Caribbean offers the same perk for five nights or less. The benefits get bigger as trips go longer; both companies hand out $250 for a two-week cruise.

3. Churchill Downs (CHDN): Those who own at least 100 shares get two complimentary passes annually to any of the company's races, and that includes the Kentucky Derby. Just don't expect champagne cocktails in the front row. The passes are for general admission seating only. Reserved seats go to those willing to spend big enough to get them.

4. Ford (F): Buy 100 shares of Ford stock and hold them for six months, and you can apply to join the company's X-Plan for discounted pricing on its vehicles. Think of it as employee pricing extended to owners. It's a good deal, to be sure, but you might be able to do even better with a little extra research and by employing a smart haggling strategy.

5. IBM (IBM): Although IBM sold its PC division to China's Lenovo years ago, those who still own Big Blue stock get access to discounts on equipment. Prices vary and you'll need to create your own shareholder-specific account to go shopping, but the effort could prove worth it if you're in need of an upgrade.

Motley Fool contributor Tim Beyers owned shares of Berkshire Hathaway, IBM, and Walt Disney at the time of publication. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford Motor, Starbucks, International Business Machines, and Berkshire Hathaway. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Starbucks, Berkshire Hathaway, Ford Motor, and Walt Disney; creating a synthetic long position in Ford Motor; and writing covered calls on Starbucks.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Finding Stock Ideas

Learn to do your research and find investments.

View Course »

Behavioral Finance

Why do investors make the decisions that they do?

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Let us back track and explain why Viagra is covered by insurance but not women's contraception...Idiot!

June 30 2012 at 9:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is like living a five star hotel to get a complimentary breakfast.

These are all blue chip, large cap stocks that are (almost) never traded at bargain prices. Just for some perks why to invest in these companies which will show below average appreciation even in long term. (

June 29 2012 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think this man is the reason insurance companies will have to pay for womens contraception as he owns more insurance companies than anyone & has Obama in his pocket. He tells people to pay more tax when he doesn't much like giethner. I use to respect this man , now I know he's just another crook getting rich off of running the government. Sometimes I think he is running the biggest ponzi scheme of them all next to our government.

March 03 2012 at 3:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lets see
step 1 don't pay your taxes
step 2 get in close with the politicians so they can make you rich with insider information

March 02 2012 at 11:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

So tell me...what perks do you get if you invest in Playboy or Penthouse Magazines? Or shares in the Mustang Ranch? Do they give away coupons too?

March 02 2012 at 7:26 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I thought the article would be about how to avoid paying taxes in the millions and not have the IRS come after you ,Just like Buffett.

March 02 2012 at 7:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

sounds good

March 02 2012 at 3:41 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Those sound good to me. Don't forget to get some JCP. You get several Gift Coupons each year. You get coupons for $10.00 for any purchase. Great way to save money and make a long term investment at the same time!!

March 02 2012 at 3:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great article - Hope Huffiee Puffiee reads this to understand capital gains tax. They are so stupid over there.

March 02 2012 at 1:36 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Great article - Hope Huffiee Puffiee reads this to understand capital gains tax. They are so stupid over there.

March 02 2012 at 1:35 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply