When you are granted a new credit card account you might think you are only getting access to cash back, airline miles, or hotel points. These rewards can help fund extravagant trips in first class to high end properties around the world. But the credit card benefits don’t stop there.
You do get access to those depending on your card, but there are other benefits that are often forgotten. The card company told you about them when you first signed up for the card as they would have been in the marketing materials sent to you in the mail or they were plastered on the website with the application.
But it can be easy to forget some of those perks after you have applied and received the card.
As valuable as the normal rewards are some of the forgotten benefits can easily outweigh the normal rewards if you don’t use your card often. (And even if you do use your card frequently the forgotten benefits are still extremely useful.)
Seven Credit Card Benefits That You Might Not Know
Here are several different benefits that your credit card may have.
1. Warranty Extension
By far one of the potentially most valuable benefits for certain credit cards is automatic extension of product warranties.
The amount of the warranty extension is dependent on the credit card you have, but most cover things like consumer electronics and automatically extend the warranty for one year after the end of the normal product warranty.
That means the $1,000 laptop that just went out of warranty and the screen just went out? You don’t have to pay for the repairs. The credit card warranty will cover you and either repair, replace, or refund you the original cost of the item.
The credit card companies have insurance companies they set up just for this type of extended warranty coverage. Just like with car or home insurance, if you suffer a loss you must file a claim and the insurance company must approve the claim. Filing a claim is very straightforward and can usually be done online; you just need to know the day you bought the item, have the receipt, and some supporting details. (You might want to scan in receipts for big purchases or store them in a filing cabinet for this purpose.)
2. Return Protection
Have you ever purchased something, discovered it was the wrong item, tried to return it to the store, and the store turned you away?
Maybe you lost your receipt or the store just has a terrible return policy. Either way you now have an item you do not want and the store has your money.
A nice perk of some credit cards is called return protection. For most companies it gives you a 90 day window to return an item to a store. If the store refuses to accept the item, and assuming the item is in like new condition as when you bought it and not trashed, return protection steps in and refunds your money to you.
3. Theft and Accidental Damage Protection
Imagine you just bought a brand new recliner to stick in your media room to watch all the big games in. You spent weeks going from furniture store to furniture store agonizing over the decision. You finally make the decision, the chair is delivered, and it is magnificent.
Then you go to work and come home, only to find out your dog has chewed up the left side of the recliner to pieces. There is foam padding and cloth material everywhere.
You are distraught until you remember some cards coe with protection against accidental damage and theft. You call your credit card company to file a claim (just like with the warranty extension claim) and as long as the damage or theft falls within a certain period of time (usually within 90 days of purchase) they will refund your money to you.
4. Credit Card Travel Protections and Benefits
No one wants to get on a plane with hundreds or thousands of dollars in their pocket to pay for all of their expenses while on vacation. Likewise carrying a debit card incurs the risk that your card will be stolen and use fraudulently, draining your bank account while you sit at the beach. (Your bank or credit card’s fraud department should get your money back to you, but it might not be immediately.)
Traveling with a credit card is the easiest and least risky way to pay for items when traveling. If fraud happens, it happens to your credit and not your bank account. You have time to straighten things out and get the charges removed.
But that isn’t the only perk to traveling with a credit card. Here are several to consider:
5. Medical Assistance or Emergency Evacuation Coverage
The worst place to fall severely ill is far from home in a foreign land whose language you do not speak and where you don’t know if your insurance works. Some credit cards offer coverage protections to get you home on an emergency medical flight or evacuate you from danger.
6. Trip Cancellation Coverage
End up in the hospital two days before your big vacation? Have a family emergency in the middle of your trip? Some cards offer trip cancellation or modification insurance that will either reimburse you for the costs you didn’t get to enjoy due to leaving early or refund the whole trip to you if your airline and hotel won’t.
7. No Foreign Transaction Fees
Most normal credit cards tack on a 2% to 3% “foreign transaction fee” if you use your card overseas. The charge doesn’t show up until you receive your bill and you find every single purchase has an extra fee tacked on. There are several travel oriented credit cards that have no foreign transaction fee, which can save you that extra few percent on your trips out of the country.
Limits to Insurance Protections on Credit Cards
There are two important things to note with all of the added benefits of your credit cards.
A. Coverage is Card Dependent
You need to know what your coverages are. The credit card company isn’t going to call you to remind you that the trip you just cancelled at the last minute can be covered by them.
Additionally, every card will have different coverages. It may have none of the coverage benefits above, or it may have all of them. The benefits and perks you get are card dependent.
B. Coverage is Limited to Specific Amounts
You can’t file $200,000 worth of extended warranty claims each year. You can’t claim that all of your furniture was stolen two days after it was delivered, and yes, you would like the $85,000 refunded.
Each card has a specific set of benefits that will place limits on the protections. Often these limits are very high. For example, my American Express Blue Cash limits extended warranty claims to a total of $10,000 per claim and $50,000 total in claims per year. Hopefully you wouldn’t get anywhere near that with claims, but there are limits in place for each card at each issuer.
It goes back to knowing what specific benefits your card provides. Without that knowledge you can’t get the free perks that are already included in the card.