That might sound like plenty, but the unexpected benefits you’re unaware of could end up helping you the most.
Not all issuers offer these credit card perks — and if they do, they come with limitations — but they’re worth asking about, not only on your existing cards but any you may apply for in the future.
8 unexpected credit card benefits
1. Extended warranty
Why limit yourself to the manufacturer’s warranty if you can tack on an extra year simply by paying with your credit card? Of the credit card issuers that offer this benefit, most will extend an item’s warranty by an additional 12 months.
As is the case with all credit card perks, limitations apply. You may have between 30 and 60 days to file the claim after the item breaks. Eligible items must already have a manufacturer’s warranty attached to them (a copy of which you should expect to provide with your claim, along with a copy of the receipt).
Exclusions vary depending on the credit card policy, but normal wear and tear and losses due to natural disaster aren’t covered pretty much across the board.
2. Purchase security
Few things are more frustrating — or costly — than having your brand new gadget broken, lost, or stolen.
You don’t have to worry about that for eligible purchases made with a credit card that offers this perk. If you break it, lose it, or it gets stolen, you’re covered for the damage or loss. Purchase security may repair, replace, or reimburse you for it.
Specifics vary among credit card policies, but you typically have 90 days to file the claim after the item is broken, lost, or stolen. You may see reimbursement limitations ranging from $500 to $10,000.
3. Price protection
No matter how much pre-purchase research you do, sometimes you find a better deal after it’s too late. With your credit card’s price protection perk, you can get a second chance.
If you make an eligible purchase with a credit card that offers price protection, the credit card issuer may reimburse you for the difference.
Generally, you can expect to have between 60 and 120 days from the date of purchase to file your claim. You may also see reimbursements limited to between $250 and $500 per item, as well as an annual cap on this benefit.
4. Return protection
As generous as return policies are these days, they aren’t user-friendly at every retailer. Maybe you don’t know you need to return something until six weeks later, or maybe you’re unable to return it within the required timeframe.
If you pay with a credit card that offers return protection, you may have up to 90 days to get a refund. After filing a claim with the credit card issuer, you may be asked to mail them the item that the store won’t take back.
Policies vary, but may require that the item was purchased in the U.S., has never been worn or used, and doesn’t fall into an ineligible return category (such as art, jewelry, or cell phones). You should also expect limited refunds, from $250 to $500.
5. Auto rental collision insurance
If you already pay for comprehensive coverage and your insurance company covers rentals, you probably don’t need to buy additional coverage through a rental car company (as hard as they might try to convince you otherwise).
But if you pay for the rental with a credit card that offers auto rental collision insurance, then you can take advantage of its supplemental coverage for some expenses your regular insurance doesn’t cover. (Just be sure to turn down the rental car company coverage; otherwise, the insurance through your credit card is null and void.)
6. Roadside assistance
Sure, you could pay AAA the annual fee for roadside assistance, but if your credit card offers roadside assistance, you only pay for help if and when you use it.
If you find yourself stranded on the side of the road, call the listed number and your credit card issuer can coordinate a tow, tire change, or other minor fix. You’re charged on a per-use basis, and the amount is billed directly to your card.
7. Travel protection
Exact perks vary by card, but check to see if any of the following is covered before your next trip.
- Baggage insurance. If your luggage is lost or damaged, baggage insurance may cover the cost of replacing the items. Even if the luggage is ultimately returned to you safe and sound, you may be reimbursed for basic necessities you had to buy during the delay.
- Trip cancellation insurance. If you paid for tickets with a credit card that offers this perk, you may be reimbursed for the loss if your trip was canceled for an eligible reason.
- Travel accident insurance. Similar to a life insurance policy, travel accident insurance typically pays out in the event of death or dismemberment. Qualifying circumstances are limited.
For instance, incidents aren’t covered simply because it happens while on vacation — it must happen on an eligible mode of transportation, such as a plane, train, or boat.
8. Emergency travel assistance
No matter how resourceful you are, there are some things you may not be able to figure out on your own when you’re in a strange place.
That’s where emergency travel assistance comes in handy. It’s a concierge service of sorts, which offers credit card holders a number to call with questions on topics ranging from trip planning and legal referrals to security advice and medical help.
Read the fine print
These unexpected credit card benefits can also come with unexpected disappointment if you don’t know the rules:
- There are caps on how much you may be reimbursed.
- There are deadlines for when claims must be filed.
- Supporting documentation may be required.
- There are restrictions on what’s covered and what’s not.
Credit card benefits are only as helpful as your knowledge of them. Find out what kind of coverage you have and make sure you know the right way to use it — it could mean big savings in the future.
In the market for a new card? Compare credit cards and their benefits here and find one that fits you best.
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