For the post, I want to dig into all the credit card benefits I think so many of us (myself included) forget we have (or didn’t even know about in the first place). I’ve know I’ve saved at least $1,000 in the past few years using many of these (and probably a whole lot more). So hopefully this helps you save some some $$$ too.
💳 Credit Card Purchase Benefits
Almost every credit card out there has a guide to benefits that will explain all the benefits of a particular card. You can usually search online to find it, but here is an example of one for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. For many of these benefits the only requirement is that you put the cost of your purchase on your card and you can usually file a claim easily online. I know I’ve filed at least 4-5 claims over the years and have been reimbursed well over $1,000, so it’s definitely worth reading through the list so you’re ready to get back some free money next time you have the opportunity.
🧾 Purchase Protection
This is one of my favorites, because you can get reimbursed to replace/repair items purchased with your card that are stolen or damaged within 90-120 days of purchase. This is a common benefit offered on many cards, but usually requires the entire purchase to be on the card and is often limited to $10k/item and $50k/year. While there are lots of exclusions (e.g., animals, software, perishables and vehicles), many common purchases like electronics or home goods are covered.
I’ve used purchase protection to replace an SD card I ran through the washing machine and to cover the cost to repair at least 3 cracked iPhone screens. Note: normally the screen needs to have been cracked within 3-4 months of the original purchase. However, one time I cracked my phone screen 9 months after buying the phone (so it wasn’t covered), but then managed to drop the phone again and crack the screen a second time a few weeks later. I was able to get the second repair covered by pointing out that the screen that cracked was not the original phone purchase (outside of the 90-120 window), but was replacement screen I “purchased” a few weeks earlier (I promise I don’t break my screen as much as paragraph makes it seem). Also, see Cell Phone Coverage below for more details on getting phones repaired cheaply.
🧑🔧 Extended Warranty
Extended warranty coverage is another common benefit that increases the original manufacturer’s warranty of an item by an additional year (or two with some Citi cards). Similar to purchase protection, it’s usually limited to $10k/item and $50k/year. This came in handy for me when I needed to get a Macbook Pro repaired in the second year (since I don’t usually buy AppleCare).
🙅 Return Protection
This commonly offered benefit will extend the return window of an item or creates a return policy where one didn’t exist (either because a retailer doesn’t accept returns or an item was “final sale”). I haven’t used this benefit yet, but I’ve been hesitant to purchase a few things that were final sale in the past and now I don’t think I’ll be worried about it in the future. However, know that return protection has much lower limits than other benefits, usually up to $250-$300/item and capping out at $1,000/year.
📉 Price Protection
Price protection is a less common benefit that reimburses you the difference when the price of something you purchased drops within a few months. This used to be a common benefit, but now is limited to a much smaller list of cards, so it’s unlikely you have it. Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of luck chatting, emailing or calling a retailer to ask them to refund the difference when a price drops within the return window.
🛫 Credit Card Travel Benefits
Similar to purchase protection, most cards (especially travel/rewards cards) have a lot of different types of coverages while you’re traveling. Fortunately I haven’t needed to test most of these (except the discounts), but I’ve certainly heard enough success stories that I wouldn’t hesitate filing a claim if it meant I could get some money back.
🚗 Rental Car Coverage
If you already have personal auto insurance, your coverage will likely carry over to a rental car (though if you’re renting a more expensive car than you drive, you might not want to supplement). That said, my understanding is that filing a claim for your rental car to your auto insurance carrier might result in your rates going up, so I don’t like to rely on this option. Also, when renting overseas, your US insurance might not cover you at all. Now, in many other countries, liability coverage is included in your rental, but damage to the vehicle is usually not covered.
Given all this, I always pay for rental cars with a credit card that offers primary rental car insurance. This is a common feature of most travel cards (e.g. Chase Sapphires, CapitalOne Venture/VentureX, Bilt Rewards), but notably not included with most common Amex cards. Instead, to get primary coverage you need to pay for their Premium Rental Car Protection. While this is probably a better deal than paying the rental car company for coverage, it does cost $12.25-$24.95 pre rental, so I use one of my other cards.
All you need to do to use your credit card rental car coverage is decline the collision damage waiver (CDW) from the rental car company and put the whole rental on your card. However, if you happen to not own a car and thus don’t have car insurance, you’ll want to check if your rental includes liability coverage (required in some states, but often at very low limits), and make sure to add that, since your credit card won’t cover any damage to other vehicles or injuries to other drivers.
⏱ Delayed Luggage
While I’ve only seen this on Chase cards, it covers the cost of things you might need when your bag is delayed (e.g. change of clothes, toiletries etc.). It usually requires your bag to be delayed at least 6 hours, and covers up to $100/day.
🧳 Lost/Damaged Baggage
Common on Chase and Amex cards, this is backup/secondary coverage to whatever the airline provides if your bag is lost, damaged or stolen. It usually covers the cost of the contents and either replacing or repairing the lost/damaged baggage. Most policies have a maximum coverage of anywhere from $500-$3,000 per person, as long as the flight was booked on the card.
💺 Trip Delay
This is another common coverage on most travel/rewards cards and will reimburse you for any additional reasonable expenses that occur as a result of a trip delay (e.g. delayed or cancelled and rebooked flight). Most cards require a delay of at least 6-12 hours and coverage is usually capped at $500/person.
❌ Trip Cancellation/Interruption
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance provides reimbursement for nonrefundable or prepaid trip expenses when you have to cancel or change your trip due to a covered situation. That typically includes major medical situations/injuries, sever weather/named storms, jury duty that can’t be postponed, death/hospitalization of travelers (or sometimes family members). This coverage is common on many travel/rewards cards, and usually covers anywhere from $3,000 - $10,000 per person. Note: while CapitalOne offers this insurance, their covered situation list is much smaller and is primarily for major medical situations/injuries to a traveler.
🛩 Emergency Evacuation
If you were in need if serious medical attention, this benefit would cover the cost of transportation to the nearest medical facility capable of proper care. While probably not necessary on a trip to Paris or Tokyo, it could be really valuable if you were on safari in Africa or on a remote island in the Maldives. The Amex Platinum is the most generous card for this benefit, having no cap on the cost and not even requiring you to have used the card to pay for your trip. Other cards (e.g. Chase Sapphire Preferred) have a cap on the cost and require you to have paid for part of your trip with the card. Also, while many of these benefits can be claimed after the fact, this is one where you need to coordinate with the card benefits team.
🤕 Travel Accidents
While I don’t know of anyone who’s used this coverage, it would pay out in the case of death, losing eyesight or losing a limb(s) while on travel booked with your card (excluding cars/taxis). Coverage varies widely by card with some cards (Amex) not offering it at all and some (Chase) offering up to $1,000,000 in coverage.
🥂 Lounge Access
Most travel cards with an annual fee over $300 include a PriorityPass membership you can sign up for on the card benefits page. While there isn’t much benefit to having multiple PriorityPass memberships, it’s worth noting that memberships through Amex don’t offer credits at PriorityPass restaurants, but most others will.
🤑 Travel Discounts
Aside from all the insurance benefits, many cards offer travel discounts worth checking out. For example, Visa Infinite cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer discounts up to 30% on Avis, Hertz, National and Silvercar. Also, World Elite Mastercards like the Citi Premier offer status/discounts with Hertz, Sixt and Avis . And finally, Amex Platinum offer status/discounts with Avis, Hertz and National.
Also, this week Bilt Rewards members announced you can get 15% off Hyatt stays booked before 8/15/22 using the “Special Offer Code” BILT4YOU. Though Hyatt members already get a discount off the public rates, so this likely won’t be worth the full 15%. While you don’t need the Bilt Card to sign up for Bilt Rewards, it’s the only card that pays points on rent (and also 3x dining/2x travel), so if you’re a renter you might want to consider signing up (using my referral link of course 😉).
🎉 Other Credit Card Benefits
With thousands of different credit cards offering dozens of benefits each, this section could be infinitely long. So instead of outlining all card benefits, I’m going to focus on that I find most valuable/interesting that are offered by multiple cards.
🍷 Free Sonoma Wine Tastings
Now here’s a fun one I’ve used a lot. If you have a Visa Signature Card (e.g. Chase Sapphire Preferred, CapitalOne Venture, United Explorer) or Visa Infinite Card (e.g. Chase Sapphire Reserve, CapitalOne VentureX) you get 2 for 1 tastings and $1 ground shipping at 50+ wineries in Sonoma County. Here’s a map of participating wineries and more details on the program.
📱 Cell Phone Coverage
This benefit will reimburse you for a stolen or damaged cell phone. It usually requires a $25-$100 deductible and covers up to $800-1000 in damages/repairs twice a year for any phone on your plan, as long as you pay for the plans monthly bill with your card. This is a great option for any damage that happens outside your free Purchase Protection window. Cards that offer this benefit include the CapitalOne VentureX, Bilt Rewards, Amex Platinum, Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Ink Business Preferred.
🛍 Shopping Discounts
Every card issuer now seems to have some collection of merchant offers on their site and they can be more valuable than you might think. For example, I just looked at my Amex offers and across my 3 cards I’ve earned $973.95 through Amex offers on purchases from retailers like Home Depot, Best Buy, Delta and Marriott. Offers vary by card, so if you have multiple cards it’s worth checking each one. If you’re new to these offers ThePointsGuy has a writeup for Chase, Amex and Citi. They didn’t do a writeup on CapitalOne offers, but I uploaded a screenshot of all the offers I see here.
Also if you haven’t checked out the CardPointers app, it does a fantastic job of organizing/tracking all these offers and all the other perks/benefits you get with your cards. I’m a huge fan of the app and managed to convince Emmanuel (the founder) to offer the biggest discount he’s ever offered on CardPointers Pro to All the Hacks subscribers, so you can check that out here.
Most travel rewards cards offer a complimentary 24/7 concierge service that you can use for things like: restaurant reservations, vacation requests, personal shopping, or event tickets. While I probably don’t use them as much as I could, I have two types of requests that I often use the Amex or Chase concierge for: 1) making reservations in a foreign country where they’re likely to have someone who speaks the local language and 2) researching places that sell specific things (e.g. I need to find a store that’s open on Sunday in San Francisco that sells a #1 balloon). Here are a few articles that might help with some inspiration for how you could be taking advantage of this free service.
📊 Free Credit Score
While sites like Credit Karma offer free credit scores, they almost never showing you your FICO score, and instead usually show the VantageScore (you can read about the differences here). While the scores are usually similar, many lenders still use your FICO score for lending decisions, so I like checking that score as well. Thankfully, many card issuers, including Amex, Bank of America and Discover give you free access to your FICO score. This page has a full list of who offers free FICO scores.
👮 Free Global Entry and/or TSA Pre
If you’re travel, are eligible for Global Entry/TSA Pre and haven’t enrolled, you really should consider it. And according to the TSA website there are 37 different cards that offer a credit to cover the cost, so it’s reasonably likely you have a card that would fully cover the cost. Or since many people have multiple cards that cover the cost, it might not be too hard to find someone that could get it free for you. One important thing to know, if you sign up for Global Entry, you get TSA Pre included, so I’d recommend doing that instead of just signing up for TSA Pre.
World Elite Mastercards and many American Express cards get you a free ShopRunner membership, which offers free two-day shipping (and return shipping) at over a hundred online retailers, including Saks, Allbirds, Under Armour and CB2. Sign up here: Amex and MasterCard.
🙏 Card Signup Links
If you’re signing up for any cards mentioned here (or really any cards at all) and you also want to support me and All the Hacks, I’d really appreciate you using this link: