Hidden Benefits of Credit Cards

April 23, 2014

You may already be aware that, when used responsibly, credit cards are a great way to build and keep a high credit score.  But did you know that your credit card may offer a host of additional benefits that can save you time and money?

Check your member benefits to see if your credit cards offer these savings.

Extended Warranty Protection

For certain electronics purchased with your credit card, the warranty coverage on the item is extended free of charge beyond the term of your existing warranty.

Credit Score

Some cards provide your FICO credit score to you for free on your statement.  In Colorado, you are entitled by law to receive one free credit report each year, but your FICO credit score is not included for free. If you are thinking of applying for loans or refinancing your home, it’s always a good idea to know your credit score in advance.

Travel

Trip Cancellation and Delay Insurance

Some cards offer trip cancellation and/or trip delay insurance, either included as part of the benefits of having the credit card, or for an additional amount paid by the cardholder.  As with most insurance policies, coverage is only offered for particular types of events causing the cancellation or delay and up to certain policy limits. For example, trip cancellation coverage may cover cancellations only in the event of sickness, injury or death of the cardholder, a family member, or those traveling with the cardholder.  Trip delay coverage may include a hotel stay and meal expenses up to a certain amount in case your flight is significantly delayed.

Baggage Delay and Reimbursement Assistance

In the event of baggage delay causing you to purchase personal replacement items during your travel, those expenses are reimbursable up to a certain limit.  Remember that to be eligible for this benefit, your travel tickets must be purchased with that particular credit card.  The card may also provide reimbursement for lost luggage, up to a specified amount.

Roadside Assistance

Your credit card may offer you a roadside emergency line that provides assistance in the event you need tow operator or locksmith services while out on the road.

Global Emergency Services

Some cards provide members who travel a certain distance from home with a 24/7 hotline that the member can call in the event of an emergency situation.  The service can coordinate help in medical or legal emergencies and also provide information on exchange rates, passports, weather, and other travel needs, as well as assist with other situations that may arise.  This service can be particularly helpful to members traveling overseas.

Car Rental Insurance

Your card may provide you with car rental insurance when you rent a car domestically and sometimes even internationally.  The primary cardholder generally needs to rent the car and the rental must be done on the credit card providing the benefits.  Certain types of vehicles such as sports cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, and luxury vehicles over a specified MSRP are generally excluded from coverage.  Check to see the coverage offered under these policies.  Usually damage to the rental or theft would be covered, but not damage to other vehicles or personal injuries.

Travel Accident Insurance

This type of insurance provides a payout, up to a specified amount, in case of death or serious injury on your trip.

Extra Cash Back Options

Some credit cards allow you to earn extra points or cash back by shopping at your favorite online merchants through their website.  If you click through your credit card site to the online merchant to do your shopping, then your cash back or points earnings for those purchases are increased.

Advance Tickets and Screenings

Your credit card may offer you advance access to purchase tickets to shows, concerts and other events that quickly sell out when they go on sale to the general public.  You would need to use that particular credit card to purchase the tickets.

Check your cards to see if they offer some or all of these benefits.  They may prove useful and save you time and money in the process.

This post was written by Julie Borisov from Colorado PERA. Would you like to write a guest post for The Dime? Email us at dimecontact@copera.org.