Based on the most recent Census Bureau estimates, there are more than 180 million credit cardholders in America. Together, they have around 1.3 billion cards. These are split between the major general use credit cards, store cards, and gas cards. Many come with extra perks and credit card benefits you might not know about.
What Types of Credit Card Benefits are Available?
While each card is different, the majority come with a benefit or perk. Common credit card perks like cash back and rewards points are fairly well-known. You might also get extra discounts at specific stores, access to exclusive sales, and coupons.
However, numerous other credit card perks fly under the radar. Many people miss out on these benefits, simply because they don’t know they are available. Not every card issuer actively markets every credit card benefit that they offer. You have to dig into your credit card agreements and the issuer’s website to learn about them.
If you want to make sure you get the most out of your credit card, here are some credit card benefits you should look for.
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry
Once only available on credit cards with steep annual fees, refunds for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees are increasingly common on credit cards, particularly those with other travel benefits.
Since TSA PreCheck and Global Entry can make getting through airport security easier, it’s worth exploring whether your card offers this perk. Usually, to access the benefit, you need to charge your application fee to the card. Then you might need to request your refund, or it could appear as a statement credit. However, the effort pays off big since the TSA and Global Entry fees are $85 and $100, respectively.
Airline Baggage Fees
A substantial number of airline-branded credit cards allow customers to check one bag for free. It’s free if they purchase their airline tickets on the card and from that airline. In some cases, this travel-oriented credit card perk also extends to your travel companions. However, you may need to purchase their tickets with your card as well.
In some cases, certain additional charges, like in-flight food and beverage purchases, are also eligible for refunds or discounts. There might be limitations, but it’s still an easy way to save a little money.
In the land of credit card benefits, purchase protection is fairly common. If an item is damaged or stolen during a specific time window and the cardholder files a claim, the issuer will reimburse you for the purchase as long as it was made with the card.
Typically, cardholders have 90 or 120 days after the purchase to use this perk. However, coverage maximums usually apply, so you may not receive a reimbursement for the full cost depending on the item’s purchase price.
Cell Phone Replacement
Replacing a damaged smartphone can easily run a few hundred dollars. But some card issuers will cover that expense as long as you use their card to pay your monthly cell phone bills.
Generally, cell phone replacement works a lot like insurance. You’ll need to cover a small deductible and file a claim. Additionally, there is usually a benefit maximum per incident, as well as an annual cap and claim limit.
Identity Theft Assistance
While not being liable for fraudulent charges on a credit card is standard practice, some card issuers go a step further and provide cardholders with additional identity theft assistance. These programs help ID theft victims with anything from completing necessary forms (like police reports) to contacting other creditors to begin mitigating the damage.
Additionally, many card issuers provide customers with credit monitoring tools, including the ability to receive alerts regarding changes on your credit report. In most cases, these tools also give you access to your credit score for free.
However, not every issuer displays your FICO score. Instead, you may see your Vantage score, which isn’t as commonly used in credit decisions. But, that doesn’t mean the information doesn’t provide value, as changes in your Vantage score could indicate your FICO score may have shifted as well.
Secondary Rental Car Insurance
When renting a car, the car rental company typically offers additional insurance to the driver. Saying no to the collision protection service can save you up to $30 a day, but leave you financially liable if you are responsible for an accident.
However, many credit card issuers provide cardholders with some secondary rental car insurance coverage if they use the card to pay for the rental. A few credit card companies even offer primary insurance coverage, allowing you to use their benefit before your personal auto insurance policy.
The nature of the coverage can vary dramatically, so it’s wise to check with your issuer to see exactly what is available.
If your travel plans go a bit awry, your credit card issuer may be able to help. In some cases, you can request refunds on specific expenses that directly relate to the incident as long as you bought them with the card.
For example, if a weather event prevents your flight from leaving on time, causing you to need a hotel for the night, that expense may qualify. If you lose your luggage during the trip, you may be eligible for a reimbursement to help cover the cost of the missing items.
Again, this one of many credit card benefits that can vary dramatically between issuers who offer it, so you need to check with yours directly to see what coverage may be available.
Currency Conversion Services
If you travel overseas, converting your currency into the local one can be expensive. Many currency exchanges charge high fees and use unfavorable exchange rates as a means of generating profit. But some credit card issuers help mitigate these costs by allowing you to bypass the need to obtain local currency entirely.
Certain credit cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees and may use more favorable exchange rates. If you use your card to pay for goods and services instead of converting cash to the local currency, you can actually come out ahead.
Does My Credit Card Provide These Benefits?
Often, you can find information regarding any available credit card benefits on the issuer’s website. You can also reach out to customer service if you can’t find the details you need.
Ultimately, no two credit cards are completely alike. Even two cards offered by the same issuer typically have access to different perks, so you need to check with the company to see what is available to you.
Do you have any favorite credit card benefits? Tell us about them in the comments below.
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