5 Credit Card Benefits You May Not Know About

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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The average American currently carries approximately $7,000 in credit card debt. This results in a good chunk of money that is simply wasted on monthly interest charges. While many people know how to use credit cards effectively, many do not, and in addition to racking up high interest, also neglect to utilize all of the benefits that many credit cards come with.

Above all else, it is important to get all credit card debt eliminated from your life. However, as you work toward that goal, you can also take advantage of some of the benefits credit cards offer, such as these five:

1. Free Money

16446246_sMany credit cards have cash back rewards programs - but do you have the best one for you? The Blue Cash Preferred Card offered by American Express offer 6% cash back on gas and 3% on groceries. Even though it has a $75 annual fee, you can easily offset this with your rewards. You can also consider the Chase Freedom card or a Discover card, which offers 5% cash back on a rotating set of categories, including restaurants, movies, gas, and more. *Terms and limitations apply.

2. Travel Benefits

9901649_sA wide variety of credit cards offer travel perks, including free car rental insurance and concierge series. If you vacation frequently, make sure you're using the right card when booking your travel plans. One of the better cards to consider is the Capital One Venture Rewards Card, which could earn you 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months of ownership -that's equal to $400 in travel! Furthermore, there are no foreign transaction fees and you earn two miles for every dollar you spend. You can use your miles to fly on any airline with no blackout dates.

3. Dispute Options

18383970_sIf you make a purchase for a service or product that you're just not satisfied with, you may have options at your disposal. The dispute process is fairly complex and you need documentation, such as your receipt, a copy of a complaint letter sent to the merchant, and photographs, if applicable. If your evidence is solid, credit card companies often respond in your favor. Virtually all credit cards come with this benefit.

4. Automatic Extended Warranty Coverage

16446290_sDepending on the card, you may be able to extend the standard manufacturer's warranty of one year up to an additional year. Just keep in mind that you need your receipt and in some cases, you must notify your credit card company within 60 days of your product breaking down. American Express features this benefit on all of its cards, as does Discover.

5. Refund Options for Damaged or Stolen Merchandise

8018938_sBelieve it or not, some credit cards offer to pay for an item that was either damaged or stolen. However, most of these policies contain extensive restrictions and exclusions and not all cards come with this benefit. A quick call to customer service should be able to get you the answer for your particular card. All Discover cardholders are covered on any damaged or stolen merchandise up to $500 in value.

Final Thoughts

Remember, you can enjoy all of these credit card benefits, but until you start paying off your entire balance every month, you won't be making any significant progress regarding your finances. Paying off your debts should be your main priority.

Do you know of any other little known benefits to credit cards?

About the Author: David Bakke is a frequent contributor for the blog MoneyCrashers.com. He writes about tips and strategies for budgeting, getting out of debt, utilizing the best financial tools, and more.

*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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