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I wanted to follow up on a previous blog post that talks about credit cards. While I primarily like to keep a psychological approach to finance and credit cards, I’ve only scratched the surface of the benefits of using them. Regardless if you are a credit card noob or someone that uses them occasionally, you might reconsider using them more once you check out these underrated credit card perks and benefits.
1. Free Extended Warranty Protection
I remember back in the days where I worked in retail. Always trying to upsell extended warranties on electronic goods. “For an extra $3.99 you get an additional year of protection! Would you like—oh, no? Ok then“– I heard that far too often back in my retail days.
Now that I’m (slightly) wiser, you don’t really need to pay out of pocket for an extended warranty.
Credit Cards That Offer: Most credit cards offer some sort of extended protection warranty. Example: most of Chase’s credit cards have a pretty standard set of rules for extended warranty protection.
- Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by one additional year, on eligible warranties of three years or less when an item is purchased with an eligible Chase card or with rewards earned on an eligible Chase card.
- Up to $10,000 per claim, maximum $50,000 per account
It’s pretty nifty.
How to Use: I often track bigger purchases and keep their receipts for them. Generally, you do need a receipt or some sort of proof of purchase to use in case your item breaks down you opt-in for the extended warranty. Mrs. Debt to Dough tends to run into this with Fitbit bands. I don’t think she’s the only one though (just a hunch).
Always check the details of your warranty, some credit cards are more lenient than others. But for the most part, you shouldn’t run into any problems.
2. Purchase Security / Zero Liability
Next, to using balance transfers, purchase security is one of my favorite perks that I’m being aware of. If you end up damaging or losing your card, the credit card company will reimburse everything.
Identify theft is a pretty big deal and has been for many years. But if someone were to get your credit card information, you could see a hefty balance statement. However, you won’t be liable.
How to Use: If something doesn’t sit right with a purchase you don’t recognize, immediately call your credit card company. They will reimburse you once you answer several questions and get you a new card at no charge.
Compared to a debit card, if you someone takes your money it get’s pulled out your checking. Getting that resolved can be pretty stressful.
It’s happened to me a few times, one via debit card and a couple via credit cards. My credit card chargebacks were about 2 days. While it took me over a month and many phone calls to get my money back to my bank account.
3. Get Cash Without ATM Fees
This mainly applies for Discover cards, but if you ever need some quick cash for whatever reason and don’t want to go out of your way to find an ATM, you can get cash back on your Discover credit card purchases.
So if you ever happened to use your Discover IT card and it always asks for cash back when you pay, that’s why!
This is pretty cool since:
- There are no fees and it won’t get charged as a cash advance.
- You won’t need to go to a supermarket to use your debit card on a 50 cent purchase and then get cash back to save fees (don’t act like I’m the only one).
How To Use: Pretty much most major stores and supermarkets allow for the use of cash back. Simply use your card and select the amount of cash you want back. You are allotted $120/day though, see the site for details.
4. Returns Without Worry
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like a schmuck if I buy something and need to return it after the allotted timeframe. Only to end up to settling with a gift card that I may or may not use.
Worry no more! Discover and other credit cards have a perk that allows you to return an item if the retailer doesn’t accept your return. Often there is a timeframe (usually 90 or 120 days, be sure to check your terms & conditions).
How to Use: Generally the terms require you to contact them and provide information regarding the return. it might take some time on the phone, but you will be allotted a refund, up to a certain price amount. Each card varies on terms and conditions (example: Chase has a $250 max limit per request)
5. Travel Protection / Insurance
Unless you are a cool kid like me that managed to get free flights, you never want to run the risk of missing a flight or connection while traveling.
Most credit cards offer some sort of travel insurance so check your benefits. The ones that provide the best benefits tend to be travel specific credit cards or credit cards that might require an annual fee. My personal favorite: Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Other protections examples include (if you get the best cards):
- Up to $10,000 per trip if your trip gets canceled or cut short.
- Up to $500 if your trip is delayed by 12+ hours.
- If your trip is canceled or interrupted because of personal matters, illness, travel related or weather, you may be reimbursed for the cost.
- $3,000 for lost luggage and $500 for delayed luggage.
How to Use: Make sure you use the proper card when you are booking flights. If you run into any travel issue, you will need to submit a claim with the credit card company.
My main reason for Chase Sapphire Preferred is that one time I had to cancel a flight last minute and lost $300. It could have been prevented had I not used a standard credit card at the time. But nothing beats free insurance while traveling!
6. Say No To Car Rental Insurance
Most credits cards offer some sort of car rental insurance. It often covers more of the basic stuff so you have nothing to worry about. This means that you don’t need to say yes whenever you are asked to get rental insurance for your car. It’s bad enough they charge $15-$25/day.
If you travel 2x a year for one week at a time, this alone can save you a few hundred dollars.
You will need to pay attention to the credit card’s terms. Some credit cards pretty much cover everything while others only handle fender benders and small mishaps.
How to Use: I recommend not trying to get in an accident, but in case you do: Call your credit card claims department and you’ll need to provide information. You need to keep receipts as well. ValuePenguin has a great guide to dealing with credit card rental insurance.
7. Price Protection
Remember that time you bought a product that was $299 and then a week later they lowered the price to $249 (not that I’m talking about my Xbox 360 experience…not at all)? Well, some credit cards offer purchase protection.
This means that if you were to catch wind of any price drops within a reasonable time (generally applicable to higher ticketed items), you can get refunds of $250 to $500 per item. While most of these you need to keep a keen eye on, there is one credit card that does price checking for you: Citi Price Rewind.
This mainly applies to all Citi credit cards, but the Citi Price Rewind checks the web for the lowest prices for you. As long as you register your purchases, you can get up to $500 per time (max $2,500 per year).
How to Use: For Citi Bank, you just need to sign up on their site and they will take care of the rest. For other credit cards, you will need to file claims which can take awhile. But totally worth it on major purchases.
8. Free Credit Scores & Reporting
Depending on the credit card you get, you can get a free credit score. Some of the top credit cards use the following scores:
- Discover -> Free FICO scores
- Barclay -> Free FICO scores
- Capital One -> Transunion (They call it Credit Tracker)
I believe most other credit cards use FICO as well but I’m only going based off of what I see in my accounts. FICO is pretty important since a lot of major creditors judge your credit scores off of FICO.
How to Use: Make sure you sign up for your online account to connect it to your card. You should be able to check your score on the interface.
9. Double’s as Cellphone Replacement Insurance
I think losing your keys, wallet, or having your cell phone gets stolen leaves us all feeling empty. Luckily, if your phone does get stolen (or you drop it in the toilet and gets damaged), you are likely to be insured for it.
Depending on your credit card, coverage does vary. But you do need to make sure you pay your monthly cell phone bill with an eligible card for you to qualify.
So if you ever need to replace a broken screen or have a stolen phone, paying by credit card will save you hundreds of dollars.
How to Use: You will need to call your card issuer (number on the back of your card) and request to speak with the benefits administrator. You’ll have to submit and fill out a form, and will be likely to send your cell phone bills to them too.
NOTE: Some cards might have a deductible you need to pay for it.
10. Get Free Museum Days
This is mainly for Bank of America cardholders, but they offer a “Museums On Us” program that allows you to get free access to any participating museum. Merrill Lynch and US Trust credit card holders are also eligible.
How to Use: Simply hop on their website, scroll down and enter your zip code. You’ll find nearby participating museums. All you need to do is present your card and you are good to go!
Know of any other hidden perks? Feel free to comment and discuss!