Discover drops 5 benefits for shoppers, travelers
Purchase protection, return guarantee among perks that ended Feb. 27, 2018
Expert on consumer credit laws and regulations
Discover has ended five card benefits for shoppers and travelers that it said customers weren't using often.
The card network and fifth-largest card issuer (by balances) has cut the following benefits: purchase protection, return guarantee, extended product warranty, auto rental insurance and flight accident coverage.
Cardholders will, however, have a few more months to file any remaining claims regarding purchase protection, return guarantee and auto rental insurance.
Discover cuts benefits
- Purchase protection: Purchases made before Feb. 28, 2018, will be covered; no claims can be made after July 13, 2018. Insures damaged or stolen purchases up to $500 for 90 days after purchase.
- Return guarantee: Coverage applies to purchases made prior to Feb. 28, 2018; no claims after May 29, 2018. Helps get money back on unsatisfactory items within 90 days, up to $500 per item and $2,500 a year.
- Extended product warranty: Purchases made before Feb. 28, 2018, will be covered. Covers additional year after original warranty expires, for eligible items with warranties 36 months or less.
- Auto rental insurance: Coverage applies for auto rental purchases that post prior to Feb. 28, 2018; no claims after May 29, 2018. Secondary insurance for loss or damage up to $25,000.
- Flight accident: Coverage applies for incidents that happened prior to Feb. 28, 2018. Travel accident coverage up to $500,000 when buying airline tickets.
Discover had announced in December 2017 it would be making the benefit changes. One benefit not on the going-away list is price protection, which refunds the difference in price if you spot an identical, lower-priced item within 90 days of purchase. Discover’s price protection is good for up to $500 per item with a ceiling of $2,500 per year.
Discover is not the only card issuer that has cut back benefits for shoppers and travelers in recent years. Visa and Mastercard, for example, began slashing return assistance and guarantee perks in 2014.
Trimming costs without affecting customers
The benefits are being ended “due to prolonged low usage,” Discover said in a statement. The changes will affect all cardholders, spokesman Derek Cuculich added by email.
The card company appears to be trimming costs without rocking its customers’ boats too much, analysts said.
“They’ve done well in customer satisfaction – you have to assume they’ve done some market research,” said Brian Riley, director of credit advisory service at Mercator Advisory Group. He said it is significant that Discover’s rewards program, which is relatively generous, is unaffected by the changes. Discover is No. 2 in customer satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2017 survey.
Time for a card reboot?
However, the cuts may mean it is time for some cardholders to reevaluate their card lineup if the lost benefits are useful to them, said Riley. “If you want those features, maybe look at other products – not necessarily ones that have a $450 annual fee,” he said.
For example, Visa's traditional benefits include auto rental damage coverage, while its Signature cards benefits include extended warranties for items that have warranties lasting up to three years. Mastercard standard benefits include accident insurance for travelers of up to $75,000 per person when tickets are bought with the card. Mastercard and Visa already dropped return protection, but American Express still lists it as a perk for eligible cards.
Other companies to scale back on card benefits?
“It’ll be interesting to see how [Visa and Mastercard] react,” said Kevin Morrison, senior analyst at Aite Group. The move could give them cover to scale back further on little-used benefits, he said.
While these card issuers already cut back some card benefits a couple of years ago, they could also use the move as an opportunity to hype their benefits more and maybe win over more users.
Discover users commenting on the FICO forum message boards had mixed reactions to the news.
“Personally I don’t care as I would not charge anything that would require any of those benefits to Discover,” said commenter “bz386.”
To which “kevinjjc” replied, “Not good, I won’t be using my Discover card for big purchases.”
Discover to keep security benefits
In its announcement, Discover noted that it will continue to offer and invest in free benefits including price protection, around-the-clock account monitoring, FICO credit scores and Social Security number alerts for cardholders to check if their identifying details are being passed around on risky websites.
“We will continue to offer and invest in the many free benefits in which Discover cardmembers find the most use and value,” the statement said.
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