15 Credit Card Perks You Didn’t Know Existed
These days, credit card issuers are bending over backward to get your business. Here are the benefits you’ll want to tap today.
Free credit scores and credit monitoring
Many credit cards now offer free FICO or VantageScore credit scores to cardholders, something that people used to have to pay to see. Some cards also send you alerts if something changes on your credit report, such as when you open a new credit card or loan. This can help protect you against identity theft. “I use the CreditWise service from Capital One, and I got an email from them within minutes about a change to my credit report when I recently opened a new card (with another company, not Capital One), so I know it works,” says Adam Jusko, founder and CEO of ProudMoney.com.
One thing to remember about free credit scores—they are great tools to track your progress, but every lender uses credit scores in different ways, so the info you get may not be the exact scores used by a lender in deciding on your loan or credit card application, notes Jusko. Check out these simple ways to improve your credit score.
Many credit cards offer special cardholder-only events; they may also give you pre-sale access to tickets for theater shows, concerts, and other events, assuming you use their card to make your purchase. “Cardholder-only events tend to be predominantly in large cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.,” says Jusko, “but the pre-sale ticket offers are more widespread.”
Cell phone protection
A number of credit cards offer a type of cell phone insurance that reimburses you if your mobile phone is damaged or stolen, usually up to a maximum benefit of $500 or $600. “Wells Fargo has this benefit with all of their consumer credit cards, but there are other cards with it as well,” says Jusko.
If you overpaid for a purchase (meaning that the price drops within 90 days), you can get the difference back from your credit card issuer after an online or in-store purchase. The caveat is that you have to provide the proof of purchase and price drop. You may also have to try getting the price difference from the merchant on your own.
“If the merchant declines, then you can file a claim by using a mobile app like Bank Yogi. Some merchants may require you to call them and go to the store or require you to use the retailer’s app to make the initial request. Others such as Amazon may not provide any price difference back at all. Some credit card issuers may require a minimum of a 20 or 30-day merchant price match policy to consider your claim. None of the American Express credit cards have this benefit,” says Sukhjot Basi, co-founder and CEO of Bank Yogi.
With this benefit, you can return merchandise and get a full refund from your bank for up to 60 to 90 days after the purchase. This protection goes for in-store and online purchases. “The caveat is that you have to provide the proof of purchase,” says Basi. “You also have to try returning it to the merchant on your own first. If the merchant declines, you can file a claim by using a mobile app. Some credit card issuers may require a minimum of a 20 or 30-day merchant return policy to consider your claim.” These are the times you should—and shouldn’t—open a store credit card.
You may be eligible for a free extended warranty for up to two extra years for products that have manufacturer’s warranties for up to three years. “Some credit cards may allow only up to a year of extended warranty, or match the warranty for less than one year. You might also get reimbursed for the co-payment of your warranty plans such as AppleCare or SquareTrade,” says Basi.
Some credit cards allow you to choose what perks work best for you. “For example, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card allows you to earn 5% cash back on the first $2,000 spent each quarter on eligible purchases. You choose which two combined categories—like gas stations or grocery stores—you’d like to receive cash back for,” says Michael Gerstman, CEO of Gerstman Financial Group. These are some surprising things your credit card company knows about you.
Free TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry
Frequent fliers will be glad to hear about this. Some high-end credit cards reimburse the cardholder the cost of applying for the TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry programs, says Cyndie Martini, president and CEO of Member Access Pacific. Being able to able to breeze through the security checks is a godsend.
Trip delay or cancellation
“If your trip is canceled or interrupted due to a covered reason, this benefit can reimburse you for all or a portion of the cost of your trip,” says Martini. The way it works is that you can be reimbursed for any non-refundable cancellation or change fee that the carrier charges you if you have to cancel your trip prior to the departure date—provided the reason for the cancellation is covered.
Insurance for rental cars
Many credit cards offer rental car insurance at no additional charge on most rentals. “To activate this benefit, the cardholder must decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver (CDW/LDW) option,” says Martini. Learn some more great ways you can use credit card rewards to upgrade your vacation.
Travelers receive coverage against accidental loss of life or covered injury at no extra cost—when the cardholder charges the travel fare to their card. However, Martini points out, travel insurance benefits offered by credit card companies vary widely—you’ll need to read the fine print.
Complimentary concierge service
High-end cards offer cardholders concierge services 24 hours a day for help with booking tickets, travel, dinner reservations, and more—and the service is available at no charge. However, make sure you watch out for these 8 credit cards you should never open.
Airport lounge access
Road warriors know that having a great place to hang out while waiting for a flight can be crucial, especially when traveling for business. You get access to food and beverages, wi-fi, and more. Choose a premium travel card that gives you entry to exclusive airport lounges. For instance, these cards give you access to the swanky airport digs.
Nothing beats free admission to more than 200 museums, botanical gardens, science centers, and more in over 120 cities. “Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders can take advantage of this great perk free of charge. Aside from free admission, Bank of America cardholders can also skip the line or get a reduced-price ticket at activities like ice skating in Bryant Park in New York,” says Chelsea Hudson, a personal finance expert at TopCashback.com.
Reduced mileage redemption costs
Few people know that many travel cards come with what’s known as reduced mileage redemption costs—you can use fewer earned miles to travel. “For example, one-way domestic tickets can be had on American Airlines for as little as 8,750 miles, instead of the usual 12,500 miles,” says credit card expert Janet Alvarez of Wise Bread. Next, check out the times you should never, ever use your credit card for payment.