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Tip #10: Use the free rewards from your credit card, car insurance, and workplace

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This is tip #10 of the Save $1,000 in 30 Days Challenge.

Today’s tip is to use the perks offered by your car insurance, credit card, and even your job — the ones most people ignore.

work-perks.jpg

Think about the places you belong to as a member: your credit card, auto insurance, Costco, or your job. Each of these offers perks that most people ignore. But by simply being a member, you get perks that can add up to thousands of dollars each year. In fact, every time you make a major purchase, you should be checking these perks first. Here are some examples from my own memberships:

#1: My car insurance offers discounts on most major retailers. I was already planning to buy flowers and get movie tickets next month, so I’m adding a calendar reminder to use these coupon codes then.

geico-perks.png

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#2: My Costco membership gives discounts on pharmacy drugs, buying cars, mortgages, roadside assistance, travel, car tires, and many business services.

costco-perks.png

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#3: My credit card offers discounts on most major retailers, plus discounts on concert tickets and a “Make a Wish” service, which recently got me orchestra tickets I couldn’t get anywhere else.

thankyounetwork-perks.png

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#4: There’s more on your credit card, which is the BEST source of perks. All credit card include automatic extended warranties, travel insurance, car-rental discounts, and a bunch of other perks. Check out my appearance on CNBC, where I cover credit card perks in more detail.

#5: Your workplace probably offers a bunch of perks that nobody takes advantage of. At PBwiki, we offer weekly massages, free food, free headphones, and if you want to take a co-worker out to lunch, we’ll cover it. At bigger companies, you may find perks like public-transit reimbursement and discounts on entertainment tickets/attractions. Most people don’t use the perks, so ask the HR person for a list of benefits you have available and use them!

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Here’s how to use this tip effectively: First, log in to see what your memberships offer you. If anything catches your eye, set a calendar reminder for when to log back in and use it (e.g., “Booking vacation in February — check Geico for discount”). Try to defer all major purchases until later (otherwise, how are you going to save $1,000?), but if you know how much you’ll save, feel free to count it towards the $1,000 Challenge.

One final thing: This is a powerful tip because you can get discounts on places you already shop — especially for large purchases, which can save thousands per year. The first time I used my credit card’s travel rewards, I saved $600. Using my discounts, I’ve saved thousands on travel, auto purchases, computers, clothes, and home decorations. The key is that nobody is going to spoonfeed you the places to look. If your workplace doesn’t offer discounts, check your car insurance. If that doesn’t offer perks, check your credit card (it definitely will). Check your library. And your homeowner’s association. The more you check, the more you can save.

Total Saved: $100 to $2,000.

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Last thing to do
Leave a comment on this post describing how much you’re saving with this tip and any unusual techniques you use to make this tip work.

If you liked this tip, check out my Premium tips — one long, tactical tip per week. Save money or get a 100% refund.

scrooge

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57 Comments

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  1. Another tip is to use a site like http://www.retailmenot.com/ where you can get lots of great coupons/codes for discounts online.

  2. Excellent tip, Ramit. That is just the incentive I needed to join the gym my employer pays for (100%!). I can beat the New Year’s resolution rush. 🙂

  3. I’m not sure if this is the same thing but I have two of my bills automatically charged to my credit card. In so doing I then get 1% in rewards which can be exchanged for cash or Amazon.com gift certificates. Of course, I pay the balance in full every month.

    Total savings a month: about $2 but hey, $2 for consolidating my bills and no work on my behalf? Sounds good to me! Granted if I had a card with better cash back I could get more but I really don’t want a new card at this point.

  4. Ramit, A Costco recently opened up near where I live, but I’m still unsure if dropping $50/year for a membership is worth it. I live alone so I don’t think buying 30 rolls of toilet paper or 20lbs potatoes, etc. at a time is a smart move. What’s your take?

  5. Don’t belong to membership clubs, don’t travel, don’t have credit cards, don’t have an employer. I do use Retail-me-not, including their nice widget for Firefox, and have discounts from PayPal. If we end up purchasing for this holiday season, we will probably go with the best deal we can get from local B&Ms rather than shopping online, due to time constraints. I got a Staples Reward check in the mail yesterday that I’ve already spent on gifts, so I guess I’ll count that.

    This tip: $33
    Cumulative total: $40.75

  6. Borders Rewards is also a great site, free membership and TONS of discounts

  7. You met Carmen? I have the biggest crush on her. She’s beautiful, nice, AND she teaches me about personal finance and investing!

  8. I work for a major university medical center and the University has a deal worked out where employees can take the public bus to work for free.
    My daily commute goes from 60 miles to 10 miles. A tank of gas could last 3 weeks instead of one week.
    Savings: @ $100 – $150 per month in gas costs (@ $2.00 a gallon) just riding the bus.
    http://diyjoe.blogspot.com/2008/10/how-i-value-public-bus-system.html

  9. This is one I definitely use, and need to explore more. I am fortunate to work at a university and have a boatload of perks available. I take advantage of a few including:
    Free gym access (no real savings as I belong to a racket club, but I do workout there about 1 time per week)
    Free bus rides (~$50 per year)
    Discounts on eye exams and contacts (~$50 per year)
    Lots of free food (~$100 per year)
    Some free health services ($100 per year)

    I also just switched my car insurance from AAA to an agency that specializes in education employees. Save $110 annually.

    I probably have more stuff available to me and need to check that out.

    Savings this tip: $410

  10. I like this tip, definitely worth a second look even if it’s not going to save me any money this month.

    One thing I’d like to add is that there is a way to turn those reward points into savings. I use the reward points not to treat myself to something special, but to put towards something I was going to buy anyways. For instance, if I use $20 worth of points from my credit card to buy groceries, I transfer the $20 saved into my savings account. (It’s not much, but every little bit helps.

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