How to Maximize Credit Card Benefits
Credit cards are like a delightful gift from heaven.
If you pay your bill on time, they’re actually a free, short-term loan. They help keep track of your spending much more easily than cash, and they let you download your transaction history for free.
Most offer excellent credit card benefits such as free warranty extensions on your purchases and free car rental insurance. Since over 61% of Americans have at least one credit card, you’re probably eligible for over $1,000 of benefits you probably don’t even know about.
Rewards credit cards can get you benefits like traveling around the world like a VIP, getting a 2% discount on every purchase for life, and a concierge service that performs miracles.
Don’t let you credit card benefits go to waste, now how to make the most of them.
- 4 hidden credit card benefits and perks
- Traveling the world like a VIP for free
- Get discounts on everything for life
- Credit card companies: Your personal army
4 hidden credit card benefits and perks
Just like with things like car insurance, you can get great deals on your credit when you’re a responsible customer.
In fact, if you have very GOOD credit, you’ll be able to take advantage of a lot more perks than if you have bad credit.
NOTE: If you don’t know what your credit score is, check out my article on credit scores and reports to find yours today.
If your credit score is good, you should call your credit cards and lenders once per year to ask them what advantages you’re eligible for. Often, they can waive fees, extend credit, and give you private promotions that others don’t have access to. Call them up and use this script:
“Hi there. I just checked my credit and noticed that I have a 750 credit score, which is great. I’ve been a customer of yours for the last X years, so I’m wondering what special promotions and offers you have for me. I’m thinking things along the line of fee waivers and special offers that you use for customer retention.”
Credit cards also offer rewards programs that give you cash back, airline tickets, and other benefits, but most people don’t take advantage of all the free stuff they can get.
For example, when I had to fly to a wedding in an obscure town in Wisconsin, I redeemed my credit card’s travel reward to save more than $6,000 on the flight.
That’s an easy one, but there’s better: Did you know that credit cards automatically give you amazing consumer protection? Here are four credit card benefits you might not know about:
- Automatic warranty doubling. Most cards extend the warranty on your purchases. So if you buy an iPhone and it breaks after Apple’s warranty expires, your credit card will still cover it up to an additional year. This is true for nearly every credit card for nearly every purchase, automatically.
- Car rental insurance. If you rent a car, don’t let them bully you into getting the extra collision insurance. It’s completely worthless! You already have coverage through your car insurance, plus your credit card will usually back you up to $50,000.
- Trip cancellation insurance. If you book tickets for a vacation and then get sick and can’t travel, your airline will charge you hefty fees to rebook your ticket. Just call your credit card and ask for the trip cancellation insurance to kick in, and they’ll cover those change fees — usually up to $1,000 per year.
- Concierge services. When I couldn’t find LA Philharmonic tickets last year, I called my credit card and asked the concierge to try and find some. He called me back in two days with tickets. They charged me through the nose, but he was able to get them when nobody else could.
For these reasons I put almost all of my purchases on a credit card — especially large ones. Call your credit card company and ask them to send you a full list of their rewards.
Traveling the world like a VIP for free (almost)
Look, it’s not quite 100% free. But it’s close.
Using my credit card benefits, I’ve travelled like this many times:
- International business class tickets for $30-50 in fees
- Hanging out in exclusive airport lounges that people can’t even buy their way into
- A week at a top tier luxury hotel for nothing more than minor fees and taxes
- Free breakfast and late checkout
- An upgrade to a suite at the hotel for free
A $10,000 luxury trip ends up costing a mere $100-200. Basically a 99% discount.
How is this possible?
By getting the right travel rewards credit card.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card will earn you a ton of points that you can use for free international flights and luxury hotels. If you want to travel in style, get this card.
And when you’re ready to get all sorts of VIP perks, get the American Express Platinum Card.
It is THE travel perk card with benefits that you won’t find anywhere else.
(P.S. If you’re not sure which credit card to pick, check out my article on how to choose a credit card)
Get discounts on everything for life
Let’s say travel isn’t your thing.
Can you still get ridiculous credit card benefits?
With the right card, you can get what ends up being a 2% discount on every purchase.
That’s right, 2% of every purchase will come back to you.
That’s how cash back rewards credit cards work. You spend money and a percentage comes back.
One of my favorite cash back rewards cards, the Citi Double Cash, gives a 1% cash back at purchase and another 1% cash back when you pay the bill.
That’s free money right back in your pocket. A permanent reduction in your credit card expenses will REALLY add up over time. It’s like having a lifetime discount on everything and requires zero work. Don’t pass this up.
Credit card companies: Your personal army
Another credit card benefit you’re probably not aware of is your personal army.
No, you’re not invading Russia in winter anytime soon, Napoleon. I’m talking about your credit card company fighting on your behalf.
For example, I decided to cancel my cell phone plan a while back.
When I called, though, I was informed my account had a $160 charge.
“For what?” I asked. Wait for it…
“An early cancellation fee.”
First off, I knew I had already negotiated out of an early cancellation fee a long time before that call. (Some cell phone companies make a lot of money from pulling shady moves like this, hoping customers get frustrated, give up, and just pay.)
Secondly, ever since the same cell phone company tried ripping me off a few years before, I started keeping records of every single phone conversation I’d had with them (more on that later). That came in handy when the customer service rep — though very polite — insisted she couldn’t really do anything to erase the charge.
OH REALLY?? So I pulled out the notes I had taken the previous year and politely read them aloud to her.
As soon as I read them, a miraculous thing happened: She suddenly had the ability to waive the fee. Within two minutes, my account was supposedly cleared and I was off the phone.
Wow. Amazing! All I had to do was meticulously detail our transactions the year before and explain to the company how they screwed up!
However, that’s not the end of the story. Even though they told me that they wouldn’t charge me, THEY STILL DID IT ANYWAY.
By this point, I was so fed up, I decided to call in the big guns (i.e. my credit card company).
Many people don’t know this, but credit cards offer excellent consumer protection. This is one reason I encourage everyone to make big purchases on their credit card.
So I called my credit card company and told them I wanted to dispute a charge. They said, “Sure, what’s your address and what’s the amount?” When I told them about my experience with the cell phone company, they instantly gave me a temporary credit for the amount and told me to mail in a form with my complaint, which I did.
Two weeks later, the complaint was totally resolved in my favor.
Why am I telling you this? Because you need to know that your credit card company is on your side when it comes to disputes. In fact, the credit card company fights the merchant for you.
Get More Out of Your Credit Cards
Credit cards are a critical part of your personal finances, and the benefits you can get are only one piece of that. It’s so critical, in fact, that the entire first chapter of my best-selling book is on getting the most out of your credit cards.
If you want to use your credit cards like a pro, enter your information below to receive that first chapter for free.