(TNS)—Many consumers who use credit cards are already earning cash back, collecting points and building up airline miles. Maybe they are also paying off their credit card debt interest-free using a balance transfer offer. But there are even more perks and benefits available to be taken advantage of that some people may not know much about.
With banks searching for new and innovative ways to retain customers, the competition is fierce. And that means rewards offerings are more diverse than ever. Flashy sign-up bonuses and rising cash-back percentages aren’t the only things you should consider.
Smaller, under-the-radar benefits can be some of the most lucrative ways to save using your credit card and, while they may not be your primary reason for signing up, can make a big difference in your card benefits over time. What’s more, these hidden money-savers are only getting better.
Here are some standout perks to consider during your next credit card search:
- Free Trial Cancellation
If you’ve been roped into a monthly subscription service by accidentally letting your free trial renew, a new rule for merchants announced by Mastercard in January may help. Now, when you sign up for a free trial using your Mastercard, the merchant must gain your approval before they can bill your card. At the end of your free trial, Mastercard now requires merchants to provide you with the transaction amount, payment date and instructions on how to cancel by email or text message.
If you have a habit of losing track of your subscription services, this is an easy way to make sure you’re only paying for those services you’ll actually use.
- Rental Car Insurance
Rental car agents will often try to persuade you to add Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) to your payment, which reduces your liability in the case of loss or damage to the car. At popular automotive rental company Enterprise Rent-A-Car, that can cost between $8.99 and $29.99 per day.
Before you agree, check to see which protections you already have under your credit card.
Many cards provide secondary coverage, meaning you’ll need to report any damages to your auto insurance provider first, but some credit cards offer primary coverage for rentals. If you book your rental car using a card with primary coverage, you won’t have to report incidents to your insurance provider, saving you from potentially increased rates.
Chase’s popular personal travel cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred, both offer primary coverage. Eligible American Express cardholders can enroll in Premium Car Rental Protection and receive primary coverage for a flat fee per rental, unlike many rental companies’ daily charges.
Your card’s coverage will vary and may not cover all types of cars or international rentals, so it’s important to be aware of your liability. Always read the fine print of your policy to ensure you’re properly covered.
If you’re exploring unknown territory in your rental car, you may also benefit from access to emergency assistance services. Many credit card issuers offer roadside assistance services through a toll-free number, which you may or may not be charged to use depending on your individual card.
- Travel Insurance
There is always a chance of travel plans going awry despite your best efforts. Before you purchase extra travel insurance through an airline or hotel, check your credit card provider’s coverage. Popular travel rewards cards often include benefits like trip cancellation or interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement and baggage delay insurance.
If you purchase your entire trip fare using a Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, for example, you get automatic travel accident insurance for any covered loss. Cardholders who book using their American Express Gold Card are covered under a Baggage Insurance Plan, which covers against loss, theft and damage up to $1,250 for carry-ons and $500 for checked bags.
- Priority Boarding and Checked Bags
Insurance isn’t the only bonus travel perk. If you have a co-branded airline credit card, check to see if you’re eligible for priority boarding privileges and free checked baggage. For example, American Airlines frequent fliers can get both preferred boarding and one free checked bag on every domestic flight just by purchasing with their Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. These perks may help make a co-branded card worth the annual fee.
Even if you’re not particularly loyal to one brand, many premium travel cards offer their own airport perks, like lounge access and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application reimbursement.
- Cell Phone Insurance
As prices on the latest smartphone models soar above $1,000, having an insurance plan in place on your device can be a lifeline. Luckily, you may already be covered by your credit card.
Wells Fargo credit cardholders can get up to $600 protection per claim (subject to $25 deductible) and up to $1,200 per 12-month period. Both the Uber Visa Card by Barclays and the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card also offer up to $600 in mobile phone protection in the case of damage or theft (subject to $25 deductible).
These mobile protections often come with the stipulation that you pay your cell phone bill each cycle using the credit card, so be sure to check the fine print.
- Extended Warranties and Price Matching
Before you run out to replace your faulty television or malfunctioning refrigerator, check your credit card’s warranty policy.
In addition to cash back rewards, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express will match original manufacturer warranties under two years and extend warranties with a duration between two and five years for up to an additional two years on items purchased with the card.
You can also use your card to save on the cost of purchases with price matching. When you make a purchase with the Citi Double Cash Card (and other Citi cards), for example, you can upload your receipt into Citi Price Rewind and receive a statement credit if the database finds a better price within 60 days of your purchase date (up to $200 per claim and $1,000 per year maximum).
Check with your issuer to find if you qualify for these shopping perks and more, like free returns and shipping.
- Discount Offers
Special discounts and bonus rewards don’t end with your sign-up bonus. Check your account regularly to find rotating promotions that your credit cards may offer. In addition to regular cash-back and points rewards, issuers may offer additional deals to cardholders in the form of direct discounts, statement credits or waived membership fees. You can find a running list of these limited time offers from each issuer on CreditCards.com, a Bankrate sister site.
For example, eligible Mastercard and American Express cardholders can currently enroll in a ShopRunner membership for free using their respective cards. Capital One® Venture® or VentureOne® cardholders can earn 10 miles per dollar spent on hotel stays booked through Hotels.com/venture through January 2020.
Also look for promotions through your issuer’s benefits programs, like Amex Offers and Citi Easy Deals. If you really want to up your shopping rewards game, use your credit card company’s online shopping portal or another cash-back site like Ebates to save even more.
- Fraud Protection Services
You may already be familiar with your credit card issuer’s zero liability policy, but that’s not the only service available to you in case of fraud. Some issuers offer assistance in dealing with fraud and mitigating your future risk. Look into the specific protections your cards offer to save time and money if you’re ever targeted.
For instance, Mastercard offers Expert Resolution Services to assist you in the process of replacing stolen cards and reporting fraud to credit bureaus. Similarly, Citi cardholders can work with Citi Identity Theft Solution Specialists to document fraud cases and report compromises to credit bureaus, even if the theft occurs on a card from a different company.
Nearly every credit card issuer and network has their own set of fraud protection measures, including monitoring and security alerts that can help you quickly identify a fraud attempt and mitigate any damage to your bank account.
Finding the Perks That Work Best for You
Credit card rewards are constantly evolving, which means you should stay on top of which perks and benefits work best for you.
While the biggest draws remain hefty sign-up bonuses and lucrative rewards, these smaller perks will often come in handy when you’re in a bind or simply looking to narrow the search for a new addition to your wallet.
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