*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 may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated Nov 14, 2013, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
Cardholders often have many valuable benefits inside their purses and wallets that they don’t even know about that come with the plastic they already have. Some of those extras are in the form of purchase protections or security features, while others range from concierge services for travelers to advance notice of tickets to special events that are about to go on sale.
Programs like the Citi credit card “Private Pass” feature, for instance, lets you buy presale or preferred seating tickets to concerts and sporting events where tickets may be limited. Chase offers a similar “Signature Event” program.
If you’re planning to travel and have a credit card tied to an airline’s frequent flier program, you may be entitled to bring along a companion for just $99. Some credit card programs even offer free access to the airline’s VIP lounge while at the airport. Those are some of the perks provided by the U.S. Airways Premier World MasterCard, for example, and cardholders who have the upgraded gold and platinum versions of many airline cards may also get express check-in, early boarding, or free checked baggage.
The point is that it is important to study the small print regarding your credit cards. You may be able to take advantage of a whole menu of features that are both valuable and complimentary.
Holiday Bonus Points
Chase, for instance, recently sent many of its customers an email informing them of special shopping rewards available during the upcoming holidays. Those who use their credit cards to buy from a number of different merchants who partner with Chase will earn extra bonus points. For those who plan on doing their holiday shopping at the following stores will reap big savings of both time and cash. They can shop 24/7 from the convenience of home or any web-enabled mobile device while receiving really generous earnings. Here are some stores:
- Cardmembers who buy from Dell Computers will earn for triple points per dollar spent
- Earn six points per dollar at Blue Nile and Red Envelope
- Earn seven extra points for every dollar spent at Wine.com as you fill up your wine rack
- Shoppers at Macy’s and Nordstrom get five points per dollar
- Earn 10 points per dollar at Kohl’s
Free Credit Scores
Earlier this month, First Bankcard announced that it will be one of the first credit card issuers in the USA to partner with FICO by offering free FICO credit scores to cardholders, along with tips on how to improve their scores and overall financial profiles. The same goes for Barclaycard US, which issues a lot of branded cards in partnership with other companies including Frontier Airlines and Carnival Cruise Lines. Normally you’d have to pay more than $19 to see those all-important scores, so this is a great freebie.
Auto Rental and Buying Perks
American Express routinely provides premium levels of auto rental insurance for an additional fee of about $25 per rental. One benefit of that coverage is that you can file a claim without having to pay an expensive deductible.
Another perk you can get from Amex is help with buying your own automobile. Under their auto buying program you can shop for the kind of car you are interested in without first being required to give your contact information to the dealership and risk being annoyed by a salesman. Amex negotiates better deals and says, on average, its cardholders who use the program to buy a car save nearly $3,000 off the sticker price. If you do decide to buy you can even charge the full purchase price to your plastic.
Consumer Shopping Features
Your card may also offer merchant dispute arbitration and price protection guarantees. If you buy a product and find out within the next few weeks that it was offered for a lesser price, for example, card companies that provide price guarantees will simply refund the difference to your credit card. Many card issuers –including American Express– will extend the manufacturer’s warranty for a whole year, which can be particularly helpful when buying high-ticket items like consumer electronics or appliances. Some cards also temporarily cover loss and breakage, as long as you used your plastic to pay for the item.
Many credit cards have partnerships with various merchants to offer deals and discounts to current cardholders. Those can be in the form of earning additional points on specific categories of purchases, earning bonus rewards or points during a specific time period, or offering a percent discount at certain locations.
Trip cancellation insurance is another benefit that card companies extend to customers who pay for travel with their credit cards, as is travel assistance in case you run into difficultly while in another country. Some cards will also help you arrange for medical assistance, legal help, passport replacement, or reimbursement for lost luggage.
Depending upon the level of card membership that you have, you may even be eligible for reimbursement for expenses related to medical evacuation (See page 4 for an explanation). That’s a huge value since that kind of transportation may involve flying home on an airborne ambulance or plane staffed by trained medical personnel, a kind of travel that can be terribly expensive.
*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.
*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.