Credit card companies are in the money making business.
I know, that might be shocking.
“But what about all the travel miles and cash-back rewards?”
All those perks are just a way to trick you into spending more money! Mwuahahaha!
Not only do credit card companies make money, the make LOADS of money. $163 billion annually, to be exact, and mostly from poor suckers who don’t realize the true cost of carrying a balance on a 16.99% interest rate loan (or higher).
But we know better! By using credit cards responsibly and paying off the balance in full, every month, we can truly enjoy the benefits that the credit card companies are “kind” enough to offer. Don’t let Visa, Mastercard, or AmEx make money off of you – turn it around and make money off of THEM.
Many people talk about the sexy benefits of credit cards, like travel hacking, but not many people talk about the hidden benefits. For example, did you know that many cards offer travel insurance? Or car rental insurance?
Credit cards can actually be quite a useful tool. Make sure you take full advantage of them and show the credit card companies who’s boss.
Credit card travel benefits
Credit cards really have made a name for themselves as being a necessary tool for traveling, so the best unknown perks are all related to making your travel experience as smooth as possible. They can also end up saving you some money!
You likely already know about the awesome travel miles that some credit cards offer, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. These travel cards frequently come with attractive signup bonuses that lead some people to credit card “churning” (the practice of signing up for a card explicitly for earning the signup bonus).
But have you read the fine print? Let’s take a look at some neat travel benefits.
This is a HUGE perk. If you must cancel your trip due to weather or sickness (even jury duty!), some credit cards will reimburse you for ALL non-refundable expenses. The Chase Sapphire Preferred will reimburse you up to $10,000.
Travel and luggage delay reimbursement
If your flight is delayed more than 12 hours, your credit card may offer lodging and food expense reimbursement. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred (can you tell I like this card?) will reimburse up to $500 per ticket. Similarly, if your luggage gets put on the wrong plane and you don’t have your luggage, your credit card may reimburse you for essential item purchases, such as clothes and toiletries. And, if the airline completely loses your luggage, your card may reimburse you.
Rental car insurance
Don’t buy the auto insurance option when you rent a car! I once let a rental car salesman talk me into to buying insurance (he had me convinced that it was required…it wasn’t). It wasn’t until later that I realized that I was already covered by my credit card and auto insurance policy. If I had done my research first, I could have saved some cash.
Foreign transaction fees
Some credit cards will charge you an extra fee (usually around 3%) when you make purchases in a foreign country. To avoid this, simply use a travel rewards credit card while you travel. Most travel cards waive this fee.
Purchase related credit card benefits
As much as I love the rewards part of credit cards, I still have to buy things with them. But I have good news! Some of the things that you buy are eligible for certain coverages through your credit card.
If in the event you decide that you don’t want something that you purchased but are unable to return the product due to policies set by the seller, some cards will reimburse you. Product return coverage through credit cards is usually limited to around $250.
Most credit card companies offer an extended warranty 12 months past the product’s own warranty. If your doohicky breaks 3 days after its 2 year warranty expires, you would still be protected.
Damage and theft coverage
If an item that you purchased (with your credit card) is damaged or stolen, your credit card may offer reimbursement for its replacement within a certain period from the date of purchase.
Other credit card perks
Credit cards can also be useful tools before you even buy anything. If you find yourself in an emergency situation and need cash but are without a debit card, you can use your credit card to get cash from an ATM. That withdrawal would be subject to extra fees because it is considered a cash advance.the same interest rate that applies to all other purchases, so don’t get carried away! Extra fees may apply as well.
Other credit card benefits can include early access to events like concerts, and roadside assistance. These aren’t really “benefits” because they will probably end up costing you. But hey, it’s there if you want it.
So how do I actually use these benefits?
Every card is different, but a good place to start would be by calling the number on the back of your card. You will then be redirected to the proper department.process is probably slightly tedious
Your results may vary. While these extra protections and benefits may be offered, I cannot speak for the ease of actually receiving the benefits. Customer service
Take the time to look into your own credit card benefits so that you are prepared when an issue arises. It is also worth considering these extra perks when you are considering new cards in the future.
What is your favorite credit card benefit? Have you ever had to use it? Let me know in the comments!