How to Find the Benefits and Perks of Your Credit Card

July 28, 2011, Written By Lynn Oldshue

Does your credit card offer trip cancellation insurance or roadside assistance? Does it cover auto rentals or lost luggage? It depends on your type of card, the issuing bank, and the provider. The details are provided, but you have to know where to dig to find them.

VISA
Visa shows the benefits for all types of Visa cards in an easy-to-understand chart.

MasterCard
Mastercard provides the fine print for all of its benefits. You can also call            1-800-MC-ASSIST       (            1-800-622-7747      ).

American Express
Pay close attention to the fine print for American Express benefits. AMEX tries to upgrade your coverage to benefits with premium fees. It also charges fees on some services that are free with Visa and Mastercard. For example, American Express charges $19.95 per covered person per covered trip for basic trip cancellation insurance.

Here are some of the hidden perks that may be available with your card.

Cash rebates and reward points receive most of the bold print and attention, but there are some nice perks that you could be missing from your credit card. These benefits can save money on tickets, shopping and travel, guarantee the lowest price on purchases, and provide an extended warranty. But you can’t take advantage of these perks if you don’t know about them.

Here are five perks to your credit card you may not be using:

1. Free or Discounted Tickets to Museums and Theme Parks
* Bank Of America’s “Museums on Us” offers free admission to over 100 museums in 24 states with a Bank of America credit card or debit card during the first full weekend of every month for 2011. States include California, Florida, New York, and Virginia.

* Discover members save 5% on in-park and online purchases for Six Flag Season Passes, VIP Tours, daily admission tickets, parking, food and merchandise.

* Citi Private Pass gives discounts to theme parks, such as 25% off on one-day admission to LegoLand California.

* Chase Ultimate Rewards offers cooking classes or food tours, sports tickets and outdoor adventures in selected cities. All are available with rewards or can be charged to your Chase card.

* American Express offers pre-sale tickets and preferred seat tickets for events and concerts.

Credit card issuers may even be able to get you tickets to a sold-out show. Expect to pay the typical ticket surcharges and fees.

2. Travel Perks
* The Visa Signature card offers many reward perks for travel. It offers 15% off Luggage Forward service where your luggage is shipped to your hotel, cruise ship, or home in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. The card also offers hotel room upgrades, $25 travel vouchers for food, 20% off every $25 in movie tickets (Fandango), and discounts for car rentals. Cardholders can also find special offers like 15% off Southwest Wanna Get Away round trip ticket
(these are limited time offers). The 24/7 concierge service can help with travel, entertainment, and business planning.

* Continental One Pass and Delta Skymiles do not charge a fee for the first checked bag on any flight booked with the card

* Chase Sapphire helps cover expenses for a trip delay or a baggage delay on a covered trip.

3. Shopping Perks
* Many cards have merchant partners that offer free shipping and discounts on purchases made with the designated card. Partners may include WalMart, Macy’s, Sears, Pottery Barn, Home Depot, and Apple Online Store.

* Discover offers 5% or 10% cashback bonus for online purchases made with its merchant partners. Earn 5% cashback from WalMart.com, or 5% cashback when you buy an Apple iPhone 4 or iPad from ShopDiscover.

* Bank of America WorldPoints and Citi ThankYou offer an online shopping mall full of merchandise that you can purchase with reward points. Merchandise includes flat screen TVs, lawn equipment, and kitchen appliances.

4. Consumer Protections
* Price Protection. Price protection helps you get the best price for your purchase. If you find a lower price on that item in the designated time period (typically 60 days), many issuers will refund the price difference on the same item from the same manufacturer. Issuers may set a refund limit. For example, Citi refunds the price difference up to $250 per item. Internet purchases and close out sales are excluded. Price protection does not cover airline and transportation tickets. To get the price protection, save the printed advertisement and contact the program administrator for claim forms and filing procedures.

* Purchase Protection. Purchase protection guards eligible purchases against accidental damage or theft for up to 90 days from the date of purchase. Your credit card issuer can repair, replace or reimburse for up to the amount charged. For example, American Express coverage is limited to $1,000 per occurrence, and up to $50,000 per cardmember account per policy year.

 

If a retailer will not accept a return within the first 90 days of purchase, some cards, like Chase Sapphire, will reimburse you for the cost of the eligible item purchased on your card.

* Extended Warranty Protection. This protection extends the length of the free repair period under the original manufacturer’s U.S. warranty for up to one additional year. The warranty must be three years or less. Capital One doubles the original warranty time period and duplicates the coverage of the original manufacturer’s warranty up to a maximum of twelve months on most items you purchase. To receive Extended Warranty Protection, you must submit the store receipt, the credit card receipt and a copy of the manufacturer’s warranty.

5. Car Rental Loss/Damage Insurance
Using your credit card for a car rental may cover damage incurred when renting the car, so it may not be necessary to purchase extra insurance coverage from the car rental company. Before renting, check the description of this coverage in your Cardmember Agreement. To be covered, you must be the primary renter and use your card to pay for the entire rental. You must decline the collision damage waiver (CDW) or similar option when you are reserving and picking up your rental car. Coverage applies for the first 30 days, and is in excess to your other sources of insurance. Coverage may not be available in some countries.

All of these perks can save you money and hassle, but you have to know they are available. The description of the perks and benefits can be found in the card’s welcome packet. Some issuers also post these benefits online, but you have to dig to find them. If you can’t find a list of benefits for your card, contact your issuer and they can re-send the information to you.


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The information contained within this article was accurate as of July 28, 2011. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Lynn Oldshue

Lynn Oldshue has written personal finance stories for LowCards.com for twelve years. She majored in public relations at Mississippi State University.
View all posts by Lynn Oldshue