5 credit card perks that save you money
Concierge services, price protection and more come free with many cards
Specializes in family finances
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Concierge services when you travel, face time with Disney characters, access to airport lounges, roadside assistance and price protection – that piece of plastic in your wallet can open doors, help you out when your car has a flat and save you money on a big purchase.
You need to know, though, what your particular card offers before you need it. Many cardholders don’t.
Here are five credit card perks that will save you money – sometimes a lot of money:
1. Cool experiences
You probably know all about earning credit card rewards and points, but many issuers are giving customers the VIP treatment, says Michael Foguth, founder of Foguth Financial Group in Howell, Michigan.
For instance, as a Chase Disney Rewards Visa cardholder, Foguth’s family received one-on-one time with some Disney characters without waiting in line. “My travel agent at the time told us that because we had that card, we can have such perks on our trip,” he says.
Likewise, Mastercard offers golf packages and “Priceless surprises” for cardholders. Your card issuer likely offers exclusive experiences, too.
“If cardholders are booking a trip or need help with booking entertainment, they can call the concierge line to get special access to events and offers,” says Randy Hopper, a senior vice president at Navy Federal Credit Union.
Tip: You, too, probably can get similar VIP treatment with a card. “If you’re going to go somewhere, call your credit card companies to ask if they have any special offers in that city or destination during that time frame,” Foguth says.
2. More – and exotic – perks
Card issuers are vying for your business, which means there are always new options and perks for consumers. There are rewards cards (cash back, travel cards), retail credit cards for those who shop at a particular store, and cards for new credit users, students and those trying to rebuild credit.
And then there are more unique card perks…
For college students, Discover offers a student credit card that includes a $20 annual cash back bonus for good grades. Students just need a GPA of 3.0 or higher and the bonus is good for up to five years.
Millennials and urban dwellers may prefer the new Uber Visa card, which offers 4 percent cash back on restaurants and 2 percent cash back on all online purchases. Cardholders also get a $50 annual credit for streaming subscription services, such as Hulu or Netflix.
If you are a Spotify fan, Capital One’s Quicksilver and QuicksilverOne cardholders get a 50 percent discount on Spotify Premium through April 2018 when they use their cards to pay for their monthly subscription.
Fitness buffs, meanwhile, might want to take the American Express Platinum or Centurian cards for a spin. Enrolled cardholders get three complimentary SoulCycle classes when a series of 20 classes is purchased at soul-cycle.com, and other exclusive perks.
Tip: With so many credit card choices, it pays to do some research. People who take the time to shop around when looking for a new credit card will be better off in the long run, says Hopper. Find the one card that you’ll qualify for, offers favorable terms and that rewards you in some way for the kind of spending you’re likely to do.
3. Discounts, price protection and extended warranties
Shoppers can save money by using their credit issuer’s shopping portal or “rewards mall.” Some examples include Discover Deals and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Cardholders using shopping portals and rewards malls often can find discounts and special offers from the retailers where they usually shop.
“Especially around the holidays, you can potentially get free shipping and a percentage off by using online shopping portals,” says Hopper.
And don’t forget about price protection.
Many cards – but not American Express – offer price protection, though time periods for the coverage vary and cardholders have to track the prices and submit a claim. Citi’s Price Rewind makes things easier, doing the searching for lower prices, sending an alert if one is found and inviting the cardholder to request a refund of the price difference.
Price protection apps such as Earny can make the process easier for you (no need to scan and submit receipts), but these services take a cut of any difference between your price and the lower price as their fee.
Once you’ve bought that big-screen TV or made some other big purchase, your card also may extend the manufacturer’s warranty. Extended warrany coverage also vary, so check the details on your card’s protection.
Tip: Be a smarter shopper. Start with the shopping portals and rewards malls and compare the offers there to other online promo codes you can find – sometimes you can stack offers to save even more. And check the price protection and extended warranty plans for your cards. Some cards even offer purchase assurance and a satisfaction guarantee.
4. Travel conveniences and insurance – by air, land and sea
Cardholders can score all sorts of travel perks that can save time and aggravation.
For instance, you might be able to enjoy the comforts of an airport lounge before a flight, avoid paying airline baggage fees, or shorten the line during hotel check-ins. Another thing to check on your card issuer’s website is whether your card includes lost baggage protection.
“Look at it from this standpoint: If you’re going to be traveling, which card offers you the best travel benefits?” Foguth says.
Roadside assistance will come in handy, too, if your SUV breaks down on a trip. Some card issuers will dispatch help, but you’ll pay all related fees when roadside assistance arrives. Others, such as American Express Premium Roadside Assistance, will cover the costs of towing up to 10 miles, delivery of up to 2 gallons of fuel and more.
And if your dream cruise is delayed, check your card’s trip cancellation protection. Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the cards offering this. And when you’re in exotic ports of call, not paying foreign transaction fees is something you’ll be thankful for when you get back home.
Tip: If you’re renting a car, compare the rental car insurance benefits of your various cards. One card may have more coverage, such as a collision damage waiver, Hopper says.
5. Free credit scores and credit tracking
Several card issuers offer free credit scores (FICO or VantageScore, depending on your issuer) to help cardholders better manage their credit. You also can get your TransUnion credit score for free at CreditCards.com.
There are all sorts of resources that give “consumers the tools to manage their financial lives – both to stay within their means and to get the most out of their cards,” Hopper says.
“You can monitor your accounts more frequently than just your statement once a month. And you can set up alerts for email and text, so you get immediate notifications if something is changing,” Fogoth says.
There are indeed a lot of credit perks that will save you a lot of money over the years, but you might not know about them if you don’t ask – or check your card’s benefits online. Look into your card benefits now so you can take advantage of them before you need them.
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