Surprising Perks Hiding in Your Wallet

I want you to picture the things that you can’t live without. What comes to mind? Certainly water, clothing and shelter.

Anything else?

I’d like to make the case for credit cards. Just think about trying to live life without one. It gets harder and harder to live in today’s society without one. Without them you wouldn’t be able to reserve a hotel room or a rental car. These companies require a card in case you damage the room or car. Many companies don’t even accept cash anymore. I was on a JetBlue plane two weeks ago and they only accepted credit cards for in-flight purchases.

While we all have at least one (and many of us have at least three), that doesn’t mean we necessarily like them.  Nearly everyone has a story about getting hit with an expensive late fee or their unhelpful customer service rep.’s.

But before you go cutting up your cards I want to tell you about their good qualities. Yes just like in real life, there are two sides to every story. See credit cards aren’t all that bad, they just have a really bad PR problem.

I’m not sure why the credit card industry isn’t telling us more about the benefits behind cards. They really should. It would improve their image as well as draw in more customers.

You see all credit cards come with a host of hidden perks that most people just aren’t aware of. And I’m not talking about the things we already know, like extra insurance on rental cars. No, I’m talking about getting free cash and exclusive deals!

Allow me to explain…

I’ve uncovered 10 hidden benefits owning a credit card gets you. These are perks that every cardholder receives before ever making a single transaction.

For starters did you know that some cards will replace your cell phone if you lose or damage it? Never again will you need to purchase that costly insurance protection plan when you shell out big bucks for a new cell phone. Cards through Citi will reimburse you up to $250 for a new phone. American Express will give you a bit more, they’ll replace a smart phone as expensive as an iPhone. To be eligible you’ll have to consistently pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card and your account must be current.

This kind of extended warranty program encompasses more than just cell phones. You can rest assured that most of your credit cards would reimburse you if you damage or break other kinds of tech gadgets or expensive appliances within the first 90 days of purchase. Say that new laptop you bought just last week gets stolen or you accidentally drop it and it breaks. No need to worry if you bought it with a credit card. Many credit cards will cover the cost of replacing or repairing your item, up to a maximum benefit of $10,000. Sure you’ll need to fill out some forms and possibly make a police report, but it’s worth it for the savings it could net you!

Same goes for items you aren’t able to return at the store. Many cards will reimburse you for items that retailers won’t take back because of strict return policies.  Say you want to return a shirt or pair of pants you bought but the store won’t let you because they have a 30 day return policy and you’re a few days over that mark. No need to worry. Many Visa, Master Card, Discover and American Express cards will reimburse you or give you a statement credit for the item.

Most cards also give you automatic price protection as well free of charge. Say you buy a new TV with your card and then notice it cheaper somewhere else four weeks later. Your credit card will reimburse you the difference. Now you can shop without worrying about the price dropping! Many cards give you this protection for up to 60 days past the date of purchase.

You probably aren’t aware that one of the cards in your wallet will get you access to luxury services usually reserved for the wealthy elite. Certain cards act as high end concierge services. You can call them up and ask them to get you tickets to highly anticipated concerts. Most likely they’ll have pre-sale tickets available or be able to get you preferred seating for an upcoming music or sporting event. You generally don’t get discounts on these tickets though; just the ability to nab seats before your friends or first crack at front row seats. A decade ago you would have most likely had to pay a hefty annual fee for this service, but now-a-days you’ll find concierge services available on a host of no annual fee cards.

Another high end service your card may be able to get you is access to one of those exclusive airport lounges. You know the kind you always see men and women who wear perfectly tailored suits, carrying a copy of the Wall Street Journal walk into. Inside these lounges you’ll find comfy, leather recliners as well as waiters that walk around bringing you whatever food or drink you request all behind guarded doors. You’ve probably walked by a bunch of these every time you go to the airport. Every airline has their version of this lounge. Normally access to one of these lounges will run you about $500. But check out if your card gets you in for way less than that. Plenty of cards offer discounted memberships or two free visits to one of these exclusive lounge areas a year.

Speaking of airlines…your credit card may get you some other perks while traveling. If you have a credit card that is tied to an airline you probably have the ability to skip lines at the airport. Most likely your card offers you the chance to receive priority check-in (no more dealing with confusing check-in computers). Some even waive or reimburse change fees, seat fees and in-flight purchases (aside from alcohol). It’s like getting the benefits of a first class ticket without the extra expense!

You also might be entitled to free checked bags! Those pesky fees that airlines now charge for every piece of luggage you want to bring with you when you fly can be magically wiped away just by being a credit card holder. Don’t worry about coughing up $25 on your way to your destination and $25 on your way home just for bringing a suitcase with you (the audacity!).

If your travels involve driving somewhere instead of flying you probably have access to a few perks your credit card forgot to tell you about. If while you are on your travels you run into car problems don’t use your smartphone to look up a number for a towing service. Instead use it to look up the number for your credit card’s hotline. Most credit cards offer roadside assistance. They’ll arrange any services you need like a tow truck and rental car. While they won’t pay for any services you incur they can get you discounted rates. Many times you’ll save yourself 40-50 percent off towing services!

A handful of credit card companies also give you free insurance for trip cancellation or delays. If you catch pneumonia or throw out your back in the days before your trip and can no longer go you can probably get reimbursed for any flights you purchased. Some cards will even reimburse you for expenses you incur if an airline delays your flight. You may be able to get a hotel stay and meals covered if an airline bumps your flight by 12 or more hours.

Not every card offers all of these hidden perks. Many will offer a few of them. That’s why it’s important to read the fine print on your credit card. Usually the fine print reveals nasty hidden fees or exclusions, but in this instance it may reveal hidden benefits that can save you thousands of dollars! Look online for information regarding these perks or call up your credit card company and request a list of free benefits they provide. If you ever need to take advantage of one of these perks you’ll consider it time well spent!


Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson

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