Do you know all your credit card benefits? Have you ever spilled hot coffee on your shiny new laptop and kicked yourself because the warranty doesn’t cover stupidity? Did you ever want to take your husband/wife to a special restaurant for your anniversary only to call and find out its full?
Did your TV or laptop stop working just one day after the warranty expired? Or when you are buying a car, did you wish you could get some help in negotiating a better deal?
Did you know you can get all of these for free? You are already eligible for a lot of these benefits from something you already have – Credit cards.
Credit cards are not for everyone. If you do have a credit card, are responsible with it and pay your balance in full each month, it can provide a lot of nice benefits. Benefits that are more than miles, points and cash back. These fringe benefits might sometimes be worth more than the cash back if you choose the right card for your usage.
Not all cards provide all the credit card benefits – the devil is in the details. Spend 15 minutes or even less to go to your specific credit card page and browse through the benefits (it should be available on your bank website or just Google “you card” + benefits. Example : Citi PremierPass elite benefits. There are benefits that are available for all the cards of a particular type regardless of the bank (For example the rental collision damage waiver is available for all Visa, American Express and MasterCard cards whether the card is from Chase or Citibank or your local bank). Some benefits are available only for elite cards (Visa Signature or World MasterCard). So learn what you already have, and play your cards (pun intended) right to maximize the credit card benefits!
Here are the list of credit card benefits you might be eligible for:
The key below is used in the rest of the post to make things easier.
- V-> Available for all Visa card members
- M -> Available for all MasterCard members
- A -> Available for all American Express card members
- V* -> Available for selected Premium Visa card members
- M* -> Available for selected Premium MasterCard members
- A* -> Available for selected Premium American Express card members
Credit card Travel Benefit:
- Auto rental collision damage waiver : Pays for covered damages (physical damage and theft) to a rental vehicle. V, M, A
- Travel & Emergency Assistance : You’re protected when you’re traveling in the U.S. and abroad. Travel & Emergency Assistance services include medical and legal referrals, lost luggage assistance, emergency transportation, translation services and more. V, M, A
- Travel Accident Insurance : Covers you and your family against Accidental Death or Dismemberment if you purchase common carrier travel tickets with your eligible card. V, M
- Baggage Insurance Plan : Reimburses you for the actual cost of repairing or replacing your checked or carry-on luggage if it is lost or damaged while traveling on a common carrier. V*, M*, A
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance : Protects you and your family against forfeited, non-refundable, unused payments and deposits if your trip is interrupted or canceled and you have purchased your common carrier tickets with an eligible card. In the event you are prevented from taking or continuing a trip you billed to your card, you are eligible to receive up to $1,500 (this amount will vary based on the card) in Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption coverage. M*, A*
- Airport Lounge Access : Makes your air travel less stressful by providing membership access to Airport Lounges. M*, A*
- Roadside assistance : Arranges emergency roadside assistance such as jump-starts, tire change, towing, and gas delivery if you get stuck on the road. Service fees are pre-negotiated and billed to your eligible card. V*, M*, A*
- Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance : Reimburses you for personal property stolen from your hotel or motel room. Your hotel/motel stay must be purchased entirely with an eligible MasterCard card. M*, A*
Credit card Shopping benefit:
- Retail Purchase Protection : Provides coverage for most items you purchase with your eligible card if the item is damaged or stolen within 90 days of the date of purchase. V, M, A
- Extended warranty : Doubles the original manufacturer’s or store brand warranty for up to one year when you pay with your eligible card. V, M, A
- Satisfaction Guarantee : If you try to return an eligible item purchased in the U.S. within 90 days (60 days for MasterCard) from the date of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, American Express will refund the purchase price (MasterCard will refund up to $250). M*, A*
- Best Value Guarantee : Should you find a lower price for a new item within 60 days from the date of purchase using your eligible card, you may be reimbursed for the price difference. M*, A*
Credit card Personal benefit:
- Discounts, Discounts, Discounts! : Visa, Master Card, American Express have discounts for everyday purchases, from flowers to hotels to dining. V, M, A
- Emergency Card replacement and cash disbursement : Cardholders can get an emergency cash advance disbursed or a card replaced within one business day, or in some cases, within 24 hours, after approval. V, M, A
- Concierge : Enjoy exclusive, personal assistance with dinner reservations, event tickets, locating hard-to-find items, buying and delivering gifts, and coordinating business related arrangements. (I can personally vouch for this service. They have, twice, got me tickets for sold-out shows, at face value.) V*, M*, A*
- Priority Concert tickets : Access to VIP packages and pre-sales for tickets to select concerts and other entertainment events. M*, A*
Other credit card benefits (available only on limited/selected cards)
- Assistance with car buying (American Express)
- Free movie tickets
- Cell phone insurance
- Free companion airline ticket (Select airline cards and travel cards)
If you already have one or more credit cards, don’t you think it is worth knowing more about your card? Playing your cards right and picking the right card that works for you can save you a lot of money!
Update: Biz of Life asked about the success of using any of these credit card benefits (see the comments). I should have written about it along with this post. So here goes, I have used -
- Airport Lounge access : I was a regular user of this perks until a couple of years ago. I am not traveling that much anymore, but just for the free internet and drinks it was worth it.
- Retail purchase protection : I lost my ipod and my renters insurance’s deductible was more than the price of the player, so I tried the credit card purchase protection. It was not directly through Visa/Master Card, some other insurance company, Triton..Trinton… or something like that (I will check if I have the old files and see if I can find the name & other details). If I remember right, it was not very difficult. Got my money back.
- Discounts : I always look for the discounts, they are not always better than the coupons you can find at retailmenot, but these are easy to find. I have been using my American Express rate for rental car so far (with Hertz & Avis), I have not found one to beat that yet. And it can be combined with a coupon, it even beats priceline price if I book early enough. I always book through the rental car company with Amex rate and a coupon code, then go to priceline and bid up to the rate I have already got minus $5 per day. I can always cancel the direct booking later without paying any fees.
- Concierge : As I mentioned in the post, I have used this a couple of times. Both times they were able to get me tickets for a sold out event, at face value of the ticket. It was too expensive at that time via the resellers.
- Priority Concert Tickets : I have taken advantage of the pre-sale. The VIP packages are too expensive for me, so no comments about those, except,well… they are too expensive. Pre-sales are great. The resellers grab all the low priced tickets I think, so presale gives me the option of getting the tickets at face value but before it goes to public. Unless you are in a fan club (which also offers presale to fans) credit card presales are the next best way to get good tickets as far as I know.