When it comes to credit cards, you have lots of options out there. And when it comes to choosing the right credit card, the discussion is usually about things like sign-up bonuses, annual fees and points multipliers on different spending categories.
Top-line benefits are important, but there are also many lesser-known credit card benefits that often come with what’s already in your wallet.
Credit card issuers offer benefits that tend to fall into two broad categories:
- Travel protections
- Purchase protections
Some of these benefits offer to reimburse you for expenses you’ve already paid. Others are perks that can help keep more money in your pocket. Let’s explore how to take advantage of these credit card benefits.
Travel protections can reduce both the stress and the costs that pop up when your trip doesn’t go as planned. Just remember that every credit card has specific rules for what’s covered and what isn’t — so check the details before you make those travel plans.
This credit card benefit reimburses you for reasonable expenses if your travel plans are delayed and you get stuck in an airport or city longer than originally planned.
Food, taxis and hotels (if you need to stay overnight) would be considered reasonable expenses that could be reimbursed, as long as you booked some portion of your itinerary on your credit card.
Remember that you have to use your credit card to pay for these expenses out of pocket first, and then file a claim later. Your trip delay also has to last a certain number of hours before you qualify for reimbursement, and most credit cards that offer this perk set it at 6 hours.
If an airline misplaces your luggage, this benefit reimburses you for basic necessities like a change of clothing and toiletries.
Similar to trip delays, baggage delay usually has to be a certain number of hours before the coverage kicks in, but it can be quite useful if you find yourself in a new city without your suitcase.
Trip cancelation and interruption
This benefit reimburses you for prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses if a covered incident occurs before or during your trip.
Covered incidents include things like serious illness, accidental injury or the death of a family member or someone you’re traveling with that would force you to cancel your trip. Severe weather, jury duty that cannot be postponed, terrorist activity and medical quarantine by a doctor can also qualify you for reimbursement of your travel expenses.
Insurance coverage for car rentals
If you use your credit card to rent a car, you can get automatic primary or secondary car insurance on the rental car, as long as you reject the rental company’s collision damage waiver.
Primary insurance means that you won’t have to file a claim with another insurance provider in order to be eligible for coverage through your credit card. This covers you for physical damage to the vehicle and/or theft, along with reasonable and customary towing.
Secondary insurance means that you have to file a claim with your primary car insurance first. If you’re not covered, you become eligible to claim the credit card’s secondary insurance.
Similar to travel protections, purchase protections can give you an added layer of security when you swipe your credit card. This can save you money and hardship if something happens to a prized purchase, just make sure to keep your original, itemized receipt if you ever need to make a claim.
Extended warranty protection
If you purchase an item that has a standard manufacturer’s warranty, your credit card can extend that warranty to cover your purchases if they experience any manufacturer defects. Typically, this benefit extends the warranty by 1 year.
If you buy something and it gets damaged or stolen within a few months of purchase, you can get the item repaired, replaced or reimbursed. But if your item is stolen, you need to file a police report (usually within 48 hours) of becoming aware of the theft to file an eligible claim.
If you purchase an item and then discover later that the retailer you bought it from has decreased the price, your credit card will reimburse you the difference. You must provide documentation that you purchased the item with the card and proof of the discounted price for the same item, usually within 60 to 90 days of the original purchase.
Find out if you already have these credit card benefits
All of the travel and purchase protections described above vary from card to card. Some of them may not be offered by the credit card you have, and others may have different requirements and coverage rules to qualify you for these perks.
The quickest and most convenient way to see if you have these benefits is to do a quick Google search on your credit card and learn the exact details. You can also find additional information through your credit cards payment network, which is usually Visa, American Express, or Mastercard.
Wondering which payment network your card is a part of? It’s in the bottom right-hand corner of your credit card. Additional details can be found here:
While these credit card benefits aren’t nearly as widely known, they can provide real value and peace of mind. Find out which benefits you’re eligible for now. That way, the next time you’re in a tight spot, you can rest easy knowing you’re protected.