According to a new study by MasterCard, 55% of consumers were not familiar with the perks and benefits of their credit card. Some even paid extra for benefits they already had with their card.
Credit cards are subject to a lot of criticism over interest rates and fees, but their benefits are often overlooked. Most consumers know about the cash back or mileage rewards of their card. But it is worth the time to go through the welcome packet of your new card, or the terms and conditions of any card you may be considering, to see the significant perks offered by that card. Most credit cards offer services like lost luggage reimbursement, car rental damage insurance, or purchase protections that can help you through difficulties and save you some money. These perks are wasted if you don’t know about them.
Here are some of the standard benefits offered by credit cards issuers. These vary by issuer and type of card.
1. 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.
2. Extended Warranties
These typically double the manufacturer’s warranty for up to a year. There are limits to coverage. Save your manufacturer’s warranties and receipts for any purchases that may be covered.
3. Purchase Protection
This protects eligible purchases you make with your credit card. The purchased item must have been working when you received or bought it, then stopped working or was damaged. This feature also protects you against theft or accidental damage for up to 90 days from the time of purchase. Some purchases may be excluded and coverage may be limited by occurrence and card member account. For example, Visa will replace, repair, or reimburse you up to $500 per claim. MasterCard insures you for 90 days for theft, damage, or loss of a purchase if made with its card, limited to the cost of the item up to $1,000 per incident.
4. Security from Unauthorized Purchases
All card companies provide emergency assistance for lost or stolen cards. Under federal law, your maximum liability for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50. If you report the loss before the card is used, the issuer can’t hold you responsible for unauthorized charges. If the card is used before you report it missing, you may have to pay up to $50 per card for unauthorized charges.
Continue to review your billing statements. If they show additional unauthorized charges, send a letter to the issuer describing each charge. Include the date your card was lost or stolen, when you first noticed the problem, and when you first reported it. Send it to the address for billing errors.
All cards have dispute resolution. If you see a charge on your bill and it is not familiar to you, or you think you’ve been overcharged, you can call the credit card company and dispute that charge.
5. Travel Accident Insurance
When you charge the total amount of the trip to your credit card, travel accident insurance provides benefits if you lose limbs or are killed in an accident on a common carrier such as an airplane, ship, or train. Coverage ends when you arrive at the place designated on your ticket. Platinum cards typically offer $250,000 to $1,000,000 in travel accident insurance.
6. Trip Cancellation Insurance
Protects you and your family against forfeited, nonrefundable and unused payments if your trip is interrupted or cancelled and you have purchased your common carrier tickets with an eligible card.
7. Lost Luggage Insurance
If your baggage is delayed for at least 12 hours, some cards will give you up to $300 to buy essential items such as toothpaste, a change of clothes, etc. If you are going on an extended trip or are taking expensive items, it may be a good idea to book the trip with the card that offers the best insurance for lost luggage. Visa Signature reimburses the difference between the value of the amount claimed and the common carrier’s payment, up to $3,000 per trip.
Be prepared to wait for your reimbursement because the airline has to process your claim first. You must provide receipts, and terms and conditions apply.
This reimbursement is supplemental to and in excess of any valid and collectible insurance and/or possible reimbursement from any other source.
8. Travel Emergency Assistance
Most credit cards offer some type of travel assistance. All American Express cards offer global assistance, an emergency hotline that helps you find a doctor, assistance with lost prescriptions, and tells you the shots you need before you travel. MasterCard provides you with medical assistance while traveling and helps you find dentists, doctors, or pharmacies, even overseas. Visa offers similar benefits. Certain cards cover medical evacuations.
Visa offers an emergency message service to record and relay emergency messages for travelers, immediate family members, or business associates. Visa also helps you make all the necessary arrangements for emergency transportation home or to the nearest medical facility. This includes arranging to bring your young children home and staying in contact with your family members or employers.
9. Emergency Assistance
Most cards provide emergency customer service anytime, anywhere, and in any language. Emergency services include reporting lost or stolen cards, emergency card replacement, and emergency cash advances. If you need emergency cash or an emergency replacement card, contact your issuer to arrange a convenient pickup location for your new card or for direct delivery, usually within 24 hours.
10. Roadside Assistance
Services include tire changing, jump-starting, lockout service, and fuel delivery. There may be conditions for assistance. The American Express Roadside Assistance Anywhere is a fee-free feature (up to a $50 value). Visa charges $59.95 for a service call, and you are responsible for the cost of goods and services.