21 Credit Card Perks You Didn’t Know You Have

Have you ever actually read the terms and conditions of your credit cards? If you’re like most consumers, the answer is no. While much of these agreements are dense legalese that could put an insomniac to sleep, they also contain some pretty nice benefits offered by the major credit card issuers. Here are 21 perks that many credit card companies offer that could help any of us out.

Security Benefits

Virtual Account Numbers: Using your credit card number when shopping online can be risky business. If your card number gets stolen, you may find a lot of unauthorized charges posted to your account. Several credit cards allow you to log in to your account and generate a virtual, one-time-use account number each time you want to shop online. With a virtual account number, you never have to give out your permanent credit card number to shop online.

Identity Theft Protection: Some credit card companies offer this free, and some charge a monthly fee. At Allcards, we believe free is better, so look into Mastercard ID Theft Protection (available on Mastercards) and ID Navigator Powered by Norton LifeLock, which is available to all Visa cardholders. Identity theft protection alerts you if there is suspicious activity, monitors the dark web for mentions of your name, and helps you with restoration if you are the victim of identity theft.

Credit score monitoring: Many credit cards offer credit score monitoring as part of the benefits. You’ll get access to your score and alerts when anything changes. They vary in what credit score they provide, with some providing your FICO score and others using Vantage 3.0 or even another credit score model.

Mobile Apps: Most credit card companies have a mobile app, although some are better than others. Services available include checking your balance, making payments, finding the minimum amount due, and redeeming rewards. Another handy feature is the ability to lock your card from your phone.

Shopping/Retail Benefits

Extended Warranty: Instead of paying extra for the extended warranty, you might be able to rely on your credit card. Many credit cards offer extended warranties on purchases made with the card. Extended warranty terms vary, but Citi Strata Premier® Card has a great warranty that adds two years to the manufacturer’s warranty. Some banks let gift recipients make claims as long as they have all the necessary documentation, such as the store receipt, a copy of the appropriate credit card statement, and the original warranty. One thing to consider is the extended warranty the store provides might be more comprehensive or last longer than the one offered by your card issuer.

Price Protection: Price protection still exists, but it’s becoming increasingly hard to find. Some credit card companies dropped it altogether. What is price protection? Say you purchase a dishwasher for $400, and then a week later, you notice it’s on sale for $250. If you paid with a card that offered price protection, you could be reimbursed the $150 difference.

Purchase Protection: Purchase protection is still fairly common. If you buy an item and it breaks or is stolen, purchase protection will cover you up to the amount stated in the policy. American Express even covers you for items that are lost. If you claim an item is stolen, you’ll have to file a police report. Learn more in “Best Credit Cards that Offer Purchase Protection.”

Concierge services: Usually available only on premium cards, but if you have it, it’s like having a tiny personal assistant in your wallet. Concierge services can get you reservations at restaurants, book flights, or even track down your glasses that you left in a hotel in Rio de Janeiro. They won’t run errands for you or find you a doctor, but they’re pretty handy all the same.

Return Protection: If you want to return something and the store or the manufacturer won’t take it back, your credit card may be able to help. Return protection extends the return window, often by 90 days. The only credit cards that still offer this are Visa Infinite cards and select American Express cards. The item must be in new condition, and you must have put the entire purchase on the credit cards. Terms and conditions apply.

Travel Benefits

Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: This covers you if your rental car is damaged or stolen. Depending on your credit card, you could have primary or secondary coverage. Primary coverage kicks in right away, meaning you don’t have to go through your own car insurance. Not many credit cards still offer primary auto coverage. Secondary coverage means that you need to go through your car insurance, but the auto rental collision damage waiver will cover the deductible and possibly any other costs not covered by your insurance.

Cell phone protection: Protects your cell phone against damage or theft, but only if you pay the cell phone bill with your credit card. Like every insurance plan, there are limits and usually a deductible as well, but it’s a nice benefit to have.

Baggage Protection: If your checked bag is delayed (or lost), your credit card will cover the cost of essentials until your luggage makes it back from wherever it went. Usually, premium travel cards offer this benefit, but terms can vary, so be sure to check.

Travel Delay reimbursement: If your flight is delayed, this benefit will cover the costs of overnight lodging and meals. This applies to any common carrier (e.g. buses and trains as well), but terms vary. Also, this is secondary insurance, so if your airline provides you with food or lodging, you won’t be able to claim it on your credit card.

Trip Cancellation Insurance: Travel cancellation insurance reimburses you for non-refundable deposits and other expenses if you have to cancel your trip due to reasons stated in the policy. Typically, policies cover medical emergencies, weather, accidents, death, and unforeseen disasters. They don’t usually cover war, acts of war, substance abuse issues, personal whims, or civil unrest. Terms can vary widely: you need to check your terms to find out what is covered.

Roadside Assistance: This can either be complimentary (generally on premium credit cards) or a pay-per-use feature. It covers things like jump starts, towing to a local service station, fixing a flat tire, fuel delivery, and locksmith services. It might get you out of a tight spot, although AAA offers more comprehensive service.

Travel Accident Insurance: This covers you if something terrible happens to you–death, loss of sight, hearing or limbs–while you are riding, entering or exiting a common carrier (like a plane, a bus or a train) or during your trip. It’s supposed to ease the financial burden incurred by the above listed catastrophes.

Airport lounge access: You probably know if your card offers this since only the most premium travel cards do. Instead of waiting in a crowded airport with grumpy passengers and their screaming kids, you can enjoy a quiet, pleasant lounge with snacks and drinks.

Free checked bag: Co-branded airline cards are the most likely to offer this benefit, but if your card has it, it can save you about $40 on domestic flights and $75 on international flights.

TSA PreCheck or Global Entry Credit: Usually, credit cards offer $100 credit every four years to cover the costs of either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. Global entry includes TSA PreCheck, but you’ll need a passport and an interview. If you never travel abroad, TSA PreCheck will do just fine.

Emergency Travel Assistance: This varies by card and by policy. American Express, for example, will refer you to hospitals, doctors, lawyers and embassies if you call the emergency travel hotline. If you lose your wallet or it’s stolen, some credit card companies will either authorize payments over the phone or overnight you a credit card (probably at your expense).

Uber/Uber Eats/Lyft: Many cards offer cash back on rideshare services, but some, like Capital One Savor Rewards Credit Card, go a step further and give you a complimentary Uber One membership as a benefit. Uber One gets you free delivery on Uber Eats orders and member pricing on rides.

Summary

Most people are familar with their credit limit and interest rate, but credit cards offer a lot of other benefits as well. Read the fine print and take advantage of them. You could save yourself some money.

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