Most consumers can’t imagine life without a credit card. They offer an easy and convenient way to pay at a moment’s notice; help you make large purchases, and even earn you cash back.
But not many take the time to review all the unique credit card benefits and perks available in the fine print of their card’s policies.
Yet some of these special card services and rewards can be very convenient and even save you money. Some of these perks can be as varied as car rental collision protection, purchase protection or extended warranties.
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1. Mobile phone protection
You probably know someone (hopefully not you) who’s experienced the pain of shattering their smartphone’s screen on the pavement or having their phone stolen.
Replacing a cell phone can run you hundreds of dollars, so having a phone protection plan can be one of the best credit card perks to have for certain consumers.
Some of Wells Fargo’s cards, Chase Ink Preferred, Citi Prestige and Deserve Pro, among others, offer a similar benefit.
In some cases, as in Wells Fargo’s cards, you need to pay your cell phone bill with the card and go through a simple claims process. You’ll get reimbursed for the phone’s repair or replacement less a $25 deductible.
These plans can change from time to time and issuers can stop offering them at any time without advance notice. Check the fine print of your credit card’s benefits for details.
2. Access to your credit score
Using a credit card responsibly can help you improve your credit. So wouldn’t it be great if the very tool that can help you do that gave you access to your score? As it turns out, many issuers provide this unique credit card feature.
The credit bureaus – think Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, would be more than happy to charge you a fee to provide you with your credit score. However, with the following card issuers, you can get your credit score for free.
These issuers provide your free FICO score:
- American Express. Your score is based on credit information provided by Experian.
- Bank of America. Their program is free to card and mobile banking users.
- Citi. They rely on Equifax.
- Discover. This issuer uses Experian.
The following card companies provide a free VantageScore 3.0 score:
- Capital One. They use TransUnion to provide your score. Their free service is called CreditWise.
- Chase. Similar to Capital One, they rely on TransUnion and their service is called CreditJourney.
- US Bank. Uses TransUnion. You can check it using their CreditView dashboard.
3. Purchase protection
This credit card benefit generally covers items stolen or damaged after you buy them. In some cases it can help you cover articles for up to 90 days after the day you make your purchase.
If your credit card offers this benefit, it’ll highlight additional details such as the amount covered per incident, applicable exceptions and how to file a claim.
For example, if you buy a new television and damage it during installation, your card will likely cover it if it’s a high tier card. These can protect purchases of up to $10,000 for a total of up to $50,000 per calendar year.
Eligibility varies by card, but in most cases, you’ll only be covered by the amount which was charged to the card. Also, be mindful that not all charges are eligible for this credit card perk.
4. Extended warranties
The extended warranty benefit is a unique reward that comes with some credit cards. It gives you peace of mind on your purchases and can add more confidence to your shopping experience for certain items.
In general, this card feature extends the original manufacturer’s warranty by up to one additional year. In other words, you’ll get an extra year of full or limited warranty for defects in material and / or workmanship of the covered item.
The amounts covered per purchase vary, as do the calendar year caps, so check your policy documentation for details.
5. Car rental insurance
Renting a car can mark the beginning of a nice weekend adventure. But suppose you decline the collision damage waiver trying to save some money and the unexpected happens?
If your card carries car rental insurance, it can save you a lot of headaches – and money. To activate it, most cards offering this unique feature require that you reserve and pay for the entire rental with the card.
Most cards have rental caps on the amount covered and the number of consecutive days that the benefit is active. Some also limit their coverage territories, so it’s always a good idea to review your card’s documentation.
6. Shopping discounts
Many cards reward you with discounts and offers at shopping and dining places. When this credit card perk is available, consumers can find these offers by accessing their credit card’s online or mobile account to earn points, discounts or cash back with select merchants.
In general, these are limited-time offers that change from time to time and you must use an eligible card to make the purchase.
7. Baggage insurance
Many cards offer lost, stolen or damaged baggage insurance if you paid the fare with your credit card. It’s a nice benefit to have if you must travel.
These plans are typically intended to reimburse you only for amounts not covered by any other insurance, by your carrier or other travel service you’re using.
Be sure to review your benefits policy as some exceptions apply. For example, if you use miles in combination with your fare, you may not be eligible for coverage.
8. Return protection
Return protection is an extended return policy available with some credit cards. This is a unique credit card benefit that lets you return an item purchased with your card if the merchant won’t take it back.
Return windows vary, but some cards cover items returned within 90 days of purchase. The credit card issuer may refund you the full amount up to a dollar cap per item and up to a maximum amount in a calendar year.
If you have several cards, it’s worth checking which one offers you the best return benefit and use it for those I’m-not-so-sure purchases.
9. Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance kicks in when you’re unable to complete a planned trip due to various covered causes. This benefit varies from card to card and can include cancelled trips due to an injury, sickness, inclement weather or an imposed quarantine.
Note that this credit card benefit is typically available for round trip purchases only when paid entirely with an eligible card.
For example, a credit card with a good policy has a trip cancellation insurance benefit of up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per card for a 12-month period.
Final word on credit card perks and benefits you should know
This list included some of the best credit card perks and benefits available out there. But it isn’t all-inclusive. Since these services can vary from issuer to issuer, try the following hack.
Go to your credit card’s account and log in. Use their portal’s search tool and try different searches such as: “benefits and offers” or “unique rewards.” You might be surprised by what you find. And remember: pay with your card to take advantage of these benefits.
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