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You probably already have good reasons to use credit cards. For example, you can dispute the charge for a faulty product or service, which is often easier than getting a refund directly from a retailer.
Also, unlike when you carry cash, if your credit cards are lost or stolen you have limited liability (as long as you report the loss within 2 days). That means little or no financial loss.
Then there are the cards that give you cash back, discounts, and other rewards. Some of these benefits are covered in my post, “17 Ways to Make or Save Money With Credit Cards.”
But how many of the other benefits do you take advantage of?
For example, two months after I bought a washing machine I got $42 back on my credit card because the same product was on sale elsewhere. I just had to register the purchase online.
You’ll find that explained just below, along with 14 other credit card benefits you may not know about.
1. Price Protection
Some cards rebate the difference if the product you bought is found at a lower price. Frugal for Less has previously looked at what’s covered under credit card price protection, but how you use the feature, and the specific rules, vary from card-to-card.
For example, when I bought a washing machine with my Citi Double Cash card, I registered the purchase with Citi Price Rewind. Citibank searches for the same product online for 60 days, and if they find a lower price they rebate the difference.
Sure enough, some retailer had the same washing machine for less, so a couple months later I got a $42 credit to my account. Registering was tedious (receipt, model number, etc.), but it didn’t take too long, and I didn’t have to do a thing after that.
The Discover price protection program gives you up to 90 days, but you have to find the lower price, fill out a form, and then file a claim. Once everything is verified a check for the difference is sent to you.
For costly items, and especially ones that are likely to be priced differently at various retailers (like electronics), it’s worth using price protection. Check your the benefit guide for each of your cards to see if any of them offer this feature.
2. Product Security
CreditCards.com has a list of cards that offer purchase security. As they explain it, “This perk can replace, repair or reimburse cardholders for damaged, lost or stolen eligible items purchased with a credit card.”
If one of your credit cards offers this benefit, you might make a point to use it to buy items that are more likely to be damaged, lost, or stolen. Laptops and phones come to mind.
Be sure to read up on the details of the program. Some have reimbursement limits as low as $500 per item, as well as annual caps, and you have a limited time to file a claim after your item is lost, damaged, or stolen.
3. Extended Warranties
Many credit cards offer extended warranties. For example, most American Express cards add an extra year to the manufacturer’s warranty for eligible items.
CreditCards.com has a list of credit cards that offer extended warranties, and they say “This benefit typically extends existing warranties of five years or less up to two additional years. Issuers do cap how much they will reimburse cardholders per warranty claim, usually at $10,000.” Additionally there is usually a maximum amount you can claim per year.
4. Free Credit Monitoring
There are many credit cards that offer free credit scores, and some of them go beyond just a score. Discover, for example, offers social security number alerts. They monitor thousands of risky websites to see if your number shows up on them, so you’re aware of any identity theft attempts.
Capital One’s CreditWise offers a summary of your credit report. To make this more useful, see my post, “How to Use Free Credit Monitoring to Boost Your Credit Score.”
5. Special Cash-Back Offers
Many credit cards give you points and cash-back, but some offer additional deals.
For example, I’ve used Amex Offers several times to receive $10 rebates on $10 purchases, making the actual cost of the items zero. And Frugal for Less previously covered how to get $50 back on your Airbnb purchase using an Amex Offer.
Login to your American Express account and scroll down to see what’s available. Offers are targeted, so you may not see the same ones as other card holders.
Discover Deals is a similar feature for Discover cards.
BankAmeriDeals is the version offered by Bank of America credit cards.
Check your accounts online to see if your cards have similar programs.
6. Expense Tracking
While it’s not usually thought of as a benefit, the online availability of your purchase information is great for personal and business purposes.
Not sure if you’re past the warranty period for your broken TV? Look up the charge online.
Need documentation of expenses for a tax audit after your receipts have faded to the point of being unreadable? Find the purchases on your credit card statements and print them out.
Creating a new budget and wondering where you’re money has been going? Pull up your credit card accounts to take a look.
Although policies differ by credit card issuer, those statements usually stay there a long time. For example Discover says you can access statements going back 7 years.
Keep in mind that you normally lose this feature if you no longer have the card so, if you may need your statements in the future, download or print them before closing the account.
7. Return Protection
What can you do if you’re really unhappy with something you bought, but the store won’t take it back? Get a refund from your credit card issuer!
For example, Discover says, “We’ll provide a refund if the store won’t accept your return.” They limit this to 90 days, but that still goes far beyond the short period most stores have for returns of electronics and other items. There is also a limit of $500 per item and $2,500 per year.
CreditCards.com has a list of credit cards that offer return protection.
8. Early Access to Event Tickets
Some credit cards offer you the chance to buy tickets to concerts and other events before they go on sale to the general public. You can even get special seats not normally available. Here are two of these programs:
9. Free Museums
My wife and I have the Bank of America “Museums on Us” program a number of times, saving us a lot of money. We’ve gone to museums for free in Florida, Colorado, and Arizona so far.
If a museum is part of their program you just go on the first weekend of the month (Saturday or Sunday) and show your Bank of America card to get in free. It really is that simple.
10. Concierge Services
Can’t locate tickets to a sold out game? Need a recommendation for a hotel or restaurant? Need help choosing a birthday gift? Your personal concierge can help you out with these and other requests, if you have a credit card that offers this service.
Not many credit cards offer concierge service, but according to a review on CreditCards.com, you can get it with “A number of leading airline, hotel and other travel credit cards… designated as World Elite or Visa Signature.”
11. Rental Car Insurance
Many, if not most, credit cards offer rental car insurance. It’s activated when you charge the rental to the card and decline the coverage offered by the auto rental agency. It can save you a lot of money considering the cost of rental car insurance runs from $20 and $40 daily.
WalletHub did a study to determine the best credit cards for rental car insurance. They found that “All Citi, Chase and Discover cards provide global coverage. Ireland, Israel and Jamaica are the most common exclusions among other issuers.”
Be careful to read the terms when you use your card to rent a car. Many cards limit coverage to 15 days, for example, something you should know before that 16th day on the road. Also, these plans often don’t cover trucks, large vans, full-size SUVs, and exotic cars.
12. Better Foreign Exchange Rates
If you travel out of the country, use a credit card to pay for everything. CreditCards.com says the exchange rate you get with any credit card is, “far superior to what you’d get at a bank or a currency exchange shop or if you’re changing at the airport.”
Of course, it helps if you also avoid foreign transaction fees. Fortunately there are many credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. Use one of them when you go overseas.
13. Roadside Assistance
If your car breaks down on the side of the highway and you don’t have AAA or a similar plan, try calling your credit card company. According to CreditCards.com, many credit cards, including all cards from American Express, come with a roadside assistance plan.
You pay for the help in most cases, but at a pre-negotiated price. Some premium cards offer free assistance. These include the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card and the American Express Platinum Card (up to four times annually with each of thee cards).
14. Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance
If you’re caught in a blizzard and miss your flight, the airline won’t give you a refund, and the hotel you booked might keep your money too. But your credit card issuer can help you out, if they offer trip cancellation and/or trip interruption coverage.
Most travel cards that offer this benefit have hefty annual fees, but a list of credit cards that offer trip cancellation coverage includes a few that are fee-free. If you have one of these cards, be sure to use it to book your flight, hotel room, and any other travel expenses that are normally non-refundable.
Read the fine print carefully to see which interruptions or cancellations qualify, and what type of documentation you’ll need to file a claim.
15. Other Travel Benefits
In addition to the travel-related benefits already covered, there are a number of others your credit cards may offer. Any time you travel, especially overseas, check the benefit guides that come with your cards (do it online if you don’t have the paper copy), to see what’s offered.
Here are some of the benefits featured by various credit cards:
- Additional lost luggage coverage
- Free checked bags
- Assistance tracking lost luggage
- Help with medical emergency transportation
- Emergency interpretation services
- Free hotel upgrades
- Priority boarding on flights
You can find many lists of the best travel credit cards, but to determine which is best for you, dig into the details and think about which features you’ll actually use.
If your credit cards have other features not covered here, please tell us about them below… and keep on frugaling!