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When used responsibly, a credit card can help you build a credit history and increase your credit score. But those benefits may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Many credit cards offer users the opportunity to earn rewards for spending a certain amount or meeting another set of criteria. These perks usually have monetary value, like points that can be spent on certain products and services or simple cash rewards.
Depending on your interests, there are a variety of niche credit card perks that may be of interest. Here are some lesser-known benefits.
Travel protection perks include trip cancellation coverage and travel assistance. If you have to cancel a trip because of a death in the family, major illness or another kind of emergency, you may be able to cancel the trip and get your money back. Trip cancellation coverage is often limited, so make sure you understand the parameters.
Emergency travel assistance refers to help with medical, legal and transportation issues. For example, if you break a leg while traveling abroad, travel assistance can help cover the medical costs.
Reimbursement for travel costs
Travel rewards cards like the Capital One Venture card will reimburse you for the cost of TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. A pass for TSA PreCheck costs $85 for five years and Global Entry costs $100 for five years.
Having access to either of these programs lets you use the special PreCheck line at the airport, which is usually shorter and does not require passengers to take off their shoes, belts and jackets or remove liquids from their bag. You’ll have to pay for PreCheck or Global Entry with the credit card first and then have it refunded on your account.
Some travel credit cards also provide access to priority lounges with free food, drinks and comfortable chairs.
Credit cards like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select and Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card also provide one free checked bag when you use the card to book a flight on the participating airline. Checked bag fees usually cost between $25 and $35.
Many credit card companies provide roadside assistance. The policy varies on the card’s specific terms and conditions, but most will cover a few set services per year, usually capped at $50. To access the roadside assistance service, look up the number associated with your card. Most cards will only cover the cardholder and not the car itself.
If you check a bag and the airline loses your luggage, you may be paid for the inconvenience – assuming you bought the tickets with your travel rewards card.
Free Credit Scores
Credit card providers like Chase and Capital One regularly update your credit score, sometimes as often as once a week. But these companies only show your VantageScore, which is not the same score that lenders see.
Card companies including American Express, Bank of America, Citi, Discover and Wells Fargo specifically offer FICO scores, which is the model used by more than 90% of lenders.
0% APR Extension
Some card providers offer 0% APR for new cardholders. These promotions usually last between 12 and 24 months, during which time you can make only the minimum payment without paying interest. In some cases, you can call the card company and ask them to extend the promotion. This depends on your credit score and the card company’s policy.
Cardholders with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card receive access to GrubHub+ for one year, which gives you free delivery from many restaurants on the GrubHub platform. GrubHub+ normally costs $9.99 a month.
These cardholders can also get a free one-year membership to DashPass, DoorDash’s premier service. There are $0 delivery fees with DashPass and discounted service fees. DashPass normally costs $9.99 a month.
Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders get a free annual membership to Lyft Pink, Lyft’s premier service. If you use the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to pay for your Lyft rides, you’ll get 15% off each transaction.
If you log onto your credit card portal, you may notice that there are special cash-back offers for certain retailers. You usually have to manually click on these offers to activate them.
American Express cards also provide a free subscription to ShopRunner, which gets you free two-day shipping and free returns for retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, American Eagle and Under Armour.
If you purchase an item that comes with a warranty, like a refrigerator or laptop, check which credit card you’re using. Some credit card companies will offer an extended warranty when you buy an item with the card. This only applies if the item already comes with a warranty.
Most card providers will extend the warranty by one year. To take advantage of this perk, keep the item receipt and write down which credit card you used. Scan the receipt and the warranty policy and store those documents in a cloud-based filing system.
You can also send yourself an email with those documents and a subject line like “Laptop extended warranty.” This way, you’ll be able to easily find the information and file a claim if something goes wrong.
Some credit cards let you purchase tickets to concerts, sporting events and more before they’re released to the general audience. American Express cardholders can get presale tickets to Broadway shows, NBA games and Las Vegas concerts.
You can log onto your card profile to see what events you have access to. Also, if you see a local concert or event in your area, check if they’re doing a presale. These are often linked to specific card companies.
How to Access Your Credit Card Perks
If you have a credit card, log onto your account and see what hidden benefits you haven’t explored. Click on the “benefits” or “rewards” section and scroll through the different links to see what options are available.
You could also Google a card and see what benefits are mentioned in various articles and forums. Contact the customer service department if you’re confused about how to access a card benefit.
Are Card Perks Worth Paying an Annual Fee?
Some of the card perks mentioned above are only available with premier credit cards that charge an annual fee, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450), the Capital One Venture card ($95) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95).
Before you sign up for one of these cards, consider how often you’ll use the benefits and if they’re worth the annual fee. Some cards waive the annual fee for new customers for one year, allowing you to test drive the card and decide if you like it.