Credit card perks you didn’t know about (part 2)

Ramit Sethi

See a full list of credit card perks you didn’t know about.

Marketers know that it’s much more cost-effective to serve your existing customers rather than spending a ton of money to acquire new customers. Cost-effective, yes, but it’s sure sexier to spend money on Superbowl ads and stupid social-media spends.

The same is true of our personal finances. You could spend 10 hours per month moving your money from one high-interest account to another to eek out an extra 0.5% interest, or you could just take advantage of what you already have. One way to start is with your credit cards.

A lot of people ask me why I use my credit card for 95% of my spending. I do this for three reasons: Convenience (easily downloadable, trackable, categorizable), to build credit history, and huge consumer benefits.

Yesterday I got this list of perks in the mail, and it included a few I didn’t even know about. These perks are standard on most cards, so call yours to find out what you have.

Perks on your credit card
See a bigger version
I’ve copied the best ones below. Did you realize you got all (or most) of these perks with your credit card?

You have our dedicated concierge staff to assist you.
The 24-hour personal concierge service will make your dinner reservations, purchase tickets to events, coordinate business arrangements worldwide and locate hard-to-find items. Your concierge can assist you with gift selections as well as other requests to simplify your life.

Car rental insurance
Provides up to $50,000 in secondary coverage against collision or theft when you reserve and charge your car rental to your card and decline the car rental company’s collision, loss/damage waiver insurance.

Retail purchase protection
Protects most purchases made on your card against theft, fire and accidental breakage of up to $500 for up to 90 days from the date of purchase.

Price protection
If you buy something with your card and then see it advertised in print for less within 60 days, you will receive a refund for the difference up to $250. (Excludes internet purchases and certain items.)

$0 liability for unauthorized purchases, online or off
Complete protection against the unauthorized use of account.

Extended warranty
Coverage duplicates the terms of the U.S. manufacturer or store warranties of one year or less up to a maximum of 12 months on most items you purchase and is limited to the lesser of the amount charged to your card or $10,000.

Trip cancellation/trip interruption coverage
If you are prevented from taking or continuing a trip you billed to your account, you are eligible to receive up to $1,500 in Trip cancellation/trip interruption coverage

Lost luggage coverage
You are eligible for up to $3,000 in lost luggage coverage for you and your dependents when you charge your entire common carrier fare to your Citi World MasterCard. This benefit covers permanently lost, stolen or damaged baggage or personal articles checked with a common carrier.

Roadside assistance
If your car breaks down, help is just a phone call away.

My take: If you’re already spending on your credit card, you might as well use as many perks as possible. And consider that with one use of the perks for roadside assistance or purchase protection or extended warranty, you save more than you would with stupid 0%-balance-transfer/bank-transfer games.

More tips: See a full list of credit card perks you didn’t know about.

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  1. Bill

    Except a few hundred a month in college loans I don’t have any debt, and pay for everything (new car too) in cash. Yes, I am filling my 401k up. While plans change the only debt I’d like to add in the future would be for a home.

    Are these benefits worth enough that I should get and use a credit card?

  2. Ramit Sethi

    Bill, great job on not having any debt and contributing to your 401(k)!

    There is one more reason to use a credit card: To build credit. You can check out what I mean by going to a realtor and trying to buy a house. Because you pay cash for most things, you may not have a strong credit history, which will end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars over the long term. (I’ve updated the post above to say this.)

    A few sources of credit, properly managed, will save you tons of money over the long term.

  3. Lilly R.

    If you go to you can actually create a free account with them and register your credit card and they will tell you about all of the perks associated with your card. The perks are not the ones mentioned above but are online discounts, like $250 off at Tourneau, car rentals, hotels, and spas. =)

  4. Jillian

    Ramit – A word of caution: I read this article on Money Central yesterday regarding the lawsuit against CompuCredit for not disclosing that they rate your credit based on things you buy. The most horrifying part was their counsel saying, “These scoring models are commonplace across the industry.”

    Also, I’m surprised that you haven’t blogged about this settlement/benefit from TransUnion. Free credit monitoring sounds pretty good to me!

    Big fan of your blog – BTW.

  5. Mike


    I have heard that it is actually bad for your credit if you:

    1. Have a credit card with a zero balance that you do not use
    2. Have a credit card that you use all the time but pay of completely every month

    I am soon to be completely out of credit card debt (Thank Christ!) but will still use my credit card based on the benefits but will pay it off every month. How will this affect my credit?

  6. Bill

    Ramit, Just for kicks I went and got a free credit score (I noted 20 days from now in my calendar to call and cancel the service during my free 30 day free trial.) Sure enough the only thing listed in the “things that lower your score” column was that I did not have a credit card.

    Per Mike’s question above, what is the best way to use a credit card, in terms of building your credit score? I hadn’t thought about that. (I’ll google it, but it couldn’t hurt to have it in the thread)

  7. Carlin

    Having available credit usually boosts your score. The only negative is that when some lenders pull a credit report and see you have $40k in unused credit at your fingertips, they might consider it a risk that you’re going to get a loan, max out your credit cards (because you have a lot of available credit) and then declare bankruptcy or have issues paying back the loan. This is a very unlikely scenario, and honestly, I’ve never actually heard of a lender turning someone down because of this. They usually see it as a positive that other lenders have given you credit.

    With the post, I also use my credit card for everything. The two main reasons are the ability to dispute a charge and the cash back I receive. If Time Warner overcharges me for my cable bill, I dispute it. If I were to have it come directly out of my checking account, then it’s a huge pain in the ass to get your money back because they already have it (happened to me once, then I switched it to the credit card). The server at a restaurant adds a little to the tip (happened to me twice), then I dispute it. My cash back runs around $500 a year, so I get $500 for basically doing nothing. I’ve never really had to use the other perks, so I don’t know too much about them, but it’s nice to have them.

  8. Joseph

    I am like you Ramit, at least to an extent. I prefer to charge what I can and then pay it all off at the end of the month. I’m *this* close to a free airline ticket right now… I think I should have it within the next few months.

    As for all of those extra benefits you showed.. I knew that some of them were pretty standard due to my banking experience (such as the car rental insurance and the extended warranty) but most of them I had no idea were offered benefits. I’ll have to check my cards out and see if they all offer the same. I’m sure it’s a standard across Visa/Mastercard/AmEx/Discover.

  9. Khyron


    Having a card with a zero balance is never bad. First, you don’t owe. Second, as long as the card doesn’t idle like that too long, you’re fine. Lenders have in the past (and will in the future) canceled cards that were inactive, which is why you hear people say that you should use the card occasionally then pay it off in full. For example, I have an HSBC MasterCard that was literally sitting in the freezer on ice until about a month ago. (Had been in there about 12 – 18 months.) I had to use it to pay my initial pro-rated rent at my new apartment. That keeps the card active.

    Having outstanding credit (unused) is never bad, and the more available but unused credit, the better because being unused shows that you use it carefully (which is what the lenders and credit bureaus want to see, which is why they are willing to lend more).

    Its also not bad to pay a card off every month. Using it keeps it active, as I said above. Paying it off in full every month means they don’t earn money on interest, fees, etc. so there is nothing stopping them from canceling the card if they want BUT its not likely. Think of it as marketing for the lender and card association; the merchants still pay fees to accept the card. Paying it off on time also keeps the 35% of your standard FICO score that is based on timely payment in good standing.

    (Not talking about Vantage scores OR the credit bureau’s custom FICOs since the FICO calculation is just a math equation which they can and do license, customize to emphasize/de-emphasize various variables in, and generate their own internal FICO scores with. The weight of timely payment may be less or more in the credit bureau’s custom FICOs, but they’ll never let the public know how they adjust the standard FICO calculation.)

    Basically, the plan you outline for using your card, Mike, is the way you want to use a credit card, and is the way to be least penalize for having a card.


    No, dude. The (heavier?) risk comes from opening lots of accounts in a short time period, because the equation (see above) takes that to mean you are desperately seeking credit which you don’t have available. Applying for lots of credit, in various forms, is the risk that counts against you. Available credit doesn’t, at least not from any source I’ve heard from on the subject.

    As long as your credit utilization is low (preferably

  10. Rick

    Studies have shown when you shop with a credit card you spend on average 15% more than if you paid with cash. Since it’s more “painful” forking over the cash to buy an item than swiping your credit card which you will “pay off later” you will spend more with credit.

    If your intention is to raise your FICO score you should know that you can still get competitive mortgage rates though lenders who do manual underwriting even if you have no credit score. They look at you as a person and your ability to pay off the debt not just your FICO score. Just because you have a high credit score does not mean you can afford the purchase.

    Other than a mortgage I don’t plan on borrowing any money in the future so is it really worth messing around with credit cards just to get a little % back or a few nominal perks? Having a high FICO score does not equate to being wealthy, just foolish enough to borrow money while you spend more and try to pay it off each month. Hope you don’t miss a payment by a day or you’ll get hit with a late charge… Is it worth the hassle?

    Real wealth is created by saving, investing, and thinking long-term. Not trying to beat the credit card companies at their own game.

  11. luigibio

    I always use my credit card for the same reason.
    To solve the problem about avoid too spend too much I have three credit cards.
    The first one, with tight limits I have always with me for my everyday expenses.
    The second one is for more important expenses as the third one, that is a revolving one.

  12. Laura

    Has anyone actually tried to use these rewards?

    I tried once when my flight was canceled, to get assistance getting another flight booked. I was given the runaround and told to call three different 800 numbers before someone finally told me no they can’t help me with that. I just wonder how many of these services they ACTUALLY offer.

  13. A. Dawn

    I use a credit card which gives 1% cash back. It’s like getting 1% discount on everything. It does not sound a lot but it adds up at the year end.
    A Dawn Journal

  14. Carlin

    Below is an interview with Fair Isaac product support manager Barry Paperno from Bankrate. Having too much credit is mentioned and called an “old wives tale”. I should have been clearer in saying that this was something I’ve heard before too, but that I don’t think is true.

    “I’m going to start by providing a couple of misconceptions that I hear regularly with regard to closing accounts. No. 1, that the FICO score penalizes you for having too much available credit, and No. 2, that if you close an account, you lose all the history associated with that account.

    It’s just not true that you can have too much available credit. That by itself is never a negative with the score. Sometimes the things you do to get too much can be a problem, such as opening a bunch of new accounts, but for the most part, that’s just kind of an old wives’ tale.”

  15. Ole

    Rick, Thanks. Couldn’t have said it much better.

  16. evie

    Yes – thanks, Rick.

    I’d like to see the numbers on how much extra the average person spends because they are using credit cards (as opposed to cash) over time, in comparision to how much benefit they receive from using credit cards.

    If you pay everything off every month, why care about a FICO score at all? If you are living within your means, you don’t need one.

  17. Bill

    Rick is dead on.

    “Credit card perks” is an oxymoron, Just like airline miles offers, most go unused and are only offered as an enticement.

    While the readers of this blog seem to be an exception, the vast majority of Americans abuse credit when given access to it. Banks know this but want their piece of the action no matter what the toll is on the lives of the average consumer, e.g., stress, divorce, and suicide.

    Ultimately though, the blame falls on anyone who believes there are perks associated with credit card use.

  18. Jennifer

    You can’t fool Rick and Bill — credit card “perks” are most definitely an oxymoron. The perk is an successful, yet tired credit card company marketing tactic that has enticed consumers to stick around. The more you spend…the more security, travel and/or retail perks you receive. Plus, plastic is so easy and convenient – who could ask for a better way for those individuals in debt denial to continue their perpetual cycle of spending and borrowing. Instead of rewarding consumers who squander money they do not have, why not reward the cream of the crop consumers who are financially responsible and have excellent credit?

  19. Dave

    There’s one reason I don’t use CCs at all: Time.

    Working a regular 7-5 job, I just don’t have time to meet either bankers or gov’t hours. Being a laborer, I’m not supposed to have access to luxuries like telephonic communications during the day. Usually, I wish I didn’t even have to take holidays off since they are useless days. I plan out trivial things like vehicle registration weeks in advance. A lunch hour will at least let you handle anything within three blocks as the traffic allows. Maybe I’ll take the first part of the day off I took for my sister’s wedding to go handle something like visiting the DMV, or the mechanic. While it’s trivial to transfer balances online to handle a CC, if my internet goes out, it’s probably going to go out for a few weeks no matter how much it bothers me. I don’t even want to think about the amount of planning that would have to go into solving the cascade of problems that would surely result from a problem that never needed to exist in the first place.

    My bank once signed me up for one of those things automatically. It was interesting for a bit, but once I realized the danger inherent in it, I canceled it immediately despite the impact on my credit score. Maybe that will affect me negatively someday, but I made it through college without borrowing money, so hopefully I won’t have a need to in the future.

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