When you apply for a credit card, what perks do you look for? Probably cash back, airline miles, or hotel rewards. While these are all great rewards (I’m a lover of hotel rewards myself), you may be leaving other unknown perks on the table. These are credit card companies, people, take everything they will give you!
When people think employee benefits, they may think of 401(k) matches and health insurance, but they will likely not consider cell phone discounts and mileage reimbursement. In all areas of your life, you need to be using benefits to the fullest extent! Leaving benefits on the table is like throwing money out the window. We don’t throw money out the window.
So let’s discuss a few awesome credit card perks that you aren’t taking advantage of.
1. Trip-cancellation insurance. Certain cards will reimburse you the cost of nonrefundable flights in case of illness or emergency. Real illness or emergency — like the death of an immediate family member or serious illness (doctor’s note required). On top of that, certain cards offer protection against travel delays. This means that you will be refunded the amount you spent on meals and lodging if a weather emergency keeps you grounded.
2. Automatic extended warranties. Do not buy those rip-off extended warranties on electronics! Just make the purchase on your credit card and receive an automatic extended warranty up to a year. It probably won’t come in handy — just like those rip-off extended warranties — but at least it’s there. And for free!
3. Automatic car rental insurance. C’mon, guys, do not give into the rental car workers who try to scare you into purchasing rental insurance. Using your credit card means automatic collision insurance. Make sure to read the fine print though, you may not be covered for long-term rentals or larger vehicles (such as campers).
4. Guaranteed easy returns. If you purchase something on your credit card that ends up getting lost, stolen, or destroyed within 90 days, your credit card will cover the cost of repairing or replacing it. Sometimes the store you purchased the item from will not take it back, but the credit card return is guaranteed. There is a dollar limit for this that varies by credit card company. Also, be prepared to provide proof that the item was destroyed.
5. Access to concert tickets. While this isn’t normally discounted, it’s still a pretty cool perk. Many credit card companies offer presale tickets to popular concerts and sporting events. So you’ll get tickets before your friends can and you won’t have to deal with creepy scalpers in dark alleys.
6. Price protection. Don’t you hate it when you buy something and then find it cheaper a week later? Well use your credit card and you can get a refund for the difference in price within 60 days. Just prove the sale with your original receipt and the ad with the lower price. Many cards do not offer this for online ads so unfortunately, Amazon need not apply. Also excluded are close-outs and big ticket items like cars.
7. Car shopping assistance. Speaking of cars, American Express has an awesome car-buying program. Basically, you build a car using an online program and it gives you a list of certified dealers who will honor the low price provided. It’s pretty cool, you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars and you don’t have to deal with the awkwardness that is negotiating.
8. Travel assistance. Travel and health issues are both stressful enough separately, can you imagine dealing with both at the same time? Don’t worry because your credit card can provide you with any assistance you need while traveling abroad, from medical care to legal counsel. Your credit card company can put you in contact with the right people, like American doctors or lawyers who specialize in “ignorant foreigners who accidentally offend an entire country and are going to be hanged”.
9. Roadside assistance. While I’m an avid supporter of AAA, others don’t want to shell out the annual fee. Some credit cards offer different levels of roadside assistance from 24/7 assistance to help only when you are driving a rental car paid for with the credit card. Check your card’s rules beforehand to see the conditions under which you can get help. But no seriously, sign up for AAA immediately. Also know that AAA has a limit to how many times you can call per year. No one knows that because I’m the only one who has ever managed to reach the limit.
10. The benefits you signed up for. I’m assuming some awesome benefit drew you in, but are you taking full advantage of it? Are you using your cash back or free hotel stays? If the credit card company decided to do away with those benefits would you feel that you had gotten your money’s worth?
Credit card companies offer benefits because they make a bunch of money on fees and the interest payments of those who do not pay off their balances in full each month. The house ALWAYS wins, so make sure you are taking the benefits without paying the price. Let someone else pay the interest that is putting you up in hotel rooms you would never pay for yourself. And please use your benefits, as many as you can.
Don’t just use your credit card benefits though. Use your work benefits as well. Know what your work benefits are, contribute up to the 401(k) match (at least!), and eat the free food that your office brings in. Just not all the time or you will gain the entry-level eighty.
Have you used any of these hidden credit card benefits? Do you use all your work benefits as well?