Best Credit Card Perks You Didn’t Know About
Credit cards are a common and often necessary thing. This is especially true when you want to reserve a rental car or hotel room. Credit cards also allow you to make purchases that you don’t yet have the money for, which is great when your refrigerator suddenly goes out and you don’t have enough savings to replace it.
Additionally, many offer perks for using the card, which can get you free and discounted items, tickets, and much more. This quick guide goes over some of the least commonly-known and best credit card perks available.
Before we dive into the fun perks, let’s get the responsible stuff out of the way. Credit cards can be handy when you don’t have the funds on you to handle important things. However, they can also get you into deep water financially. It’s imperative that you manage your credit card usage wisely to prevent that from happening. And to do that, there’s one essential thing to understand:
Perks are only perks if they are actually helping you!
Every purchase you put on a credit card is a chance for the credit card company to charge you interest. Sometimes, this interest is only added monthly. This gives you the chance to pay off the balance before the billing period closes. If you do, you won’t have to pay the interest.
Sometimes, though, interest is added daily. In this case, you need to go straight home and pay your bill or you will be paying interest. Also, many credit cards charge annual fees.
So let’s put this into perspective: If you’re paying out $99 a year for the annual fee, and even as little as $25 per month in interest, that puts you paying $399 to use the credit card. If you’re only getting $100 per year in perks, it’s not really worth the trade-off.
You should also think carefully about the perks themselves. Many credit cards offer airline perks, which can be great for those who fly frequently. However, if you only fly once a year to visit family during the holidays, the perks probably aren’t worth the amount you spend to earn them.
The bottom line is that you should never just jump on a card because it offers perks. You need to pay attention to the annual fees and the interest rate, for starters. You also only need to choose a card with perks you’ll actually use. That’s the only way that any perks are worth it.
Best Credit Card Perks Most People Aren’t Aware Of
Now, let’s jump into the good stuff. As you read through these perks, you might see a couple that are familiar, but there are several that most people don’t know about. So let’s dig in and find some perks that you can put to good use.
You probably know you can earn points towards airline ticket purchases, but the airline perks don’t end there with many cards. There are a few additional ones to take advantage of.
One perk is that you get access to airport lounges. In some cases, this isn’t much of a perk, as you receive a drink and a snack. However, there are some lounges that offer gourmet meals, massages, spa treatments, and more. If you travel a great deal, this alone might be worth the perks. However, you’ll need to research specific airport lounges to see what you’ll have access to.
Other airline perks include a first-class upgrade on your plane ride, free TSA pre-check, even a free companion ticket. These often come with annual fees of around $200 or more, so these perks aren’t great for everyone. Again, be sure you calculate to determine if they would actually be saving you some money.
Other Travel Perks
In addition to airline perks, some cards offer other types of travel perks. For instance, some will give you a free night at a hotel after you’ve paid for three or more. Some offer rental car insurance, travel insurance, trip cancellation insurance, roadside assistance, lost luggage insurance, free concierge services, and more. Some even offer lower exchange rates and transaction fees when traveling abroad.
Have you ever spent money on an item – potentially sweating as you hover over the checkout button due to the high price – then notice two days later that the price dropped? How frustrating is that?
Well, there’s a bit of good news. If you shop online frequently like most people these days, your credit card might protect you from such a scenario. Basically, if your purchased item drops in price within a specified time frame – usually somewhere between 30 and 90 days – the credit card company will refund the difference. This is called price protection. It isn’t offered with every card, but it’s a handy one if you can get it – and it’s worth the fees.
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a VIP by attending a “members-only” event, your credit card may help you. Some companies provide access to such events. Many also offer members the ability to pre-buy tickets to concerts, theaters, and similar events. To be truthful, many of these events are in large cities, such as Chicago and New York, but sometimes they are available in other areas. In either case, it never hurts to check what’s available to you.
Some credit card companies offer free admission to many places you might like to visit. For instance, some get you in free to museums around the country, botanical gardens, theme parks, zoos, aquariums, ice skating arenas, science centers, and much more. Others allow you to completely skip the line or get deeply discounted admission. This can be incredible if you and your family enjoy visiting such locations.
And if you enjoy streaming on platforms like Netflix, you might be interested to know that some companies offer a monthly credit for streaming. The credit is offered on various services, including Spotify and Hulu.
This is one of those perks you should really think about, though. Streaming to four devices on Netflix only runs about $240 for the whole year. If the credit card fees are hundreds per year, this perk isn’t worth it unless it’s added to other perks that you can use.
Protection for Cell Phone
Let’s be honest – most people spend a pretty penny on their phones for the various features and abilities. This isn’t unusual as most people live and work on their phones, so we all need something that can handle our lives. However, spending hundreds on a phone can be a bit intimidating, as they seem to be so fragile.
Fortunately, some credit card companies offer cell phone insurance. If your phone gets stolen or damaged, they’ll reimburse you up to a certain amount. The highest reimbursement is usually about $600, but some go much lower.
Some credit card companies offer protection for other purchases. Purchase protection is a perk that is basically insurance for your item. If it breaks or is stolen within the credit card company’s specified time frame, they’ll reimburse you.
You know all those times that you go shopping and the cashier asks, “Would you like to add an extended warranty?” If you’re like many people, you’ll toil over that decision. You might even buy it, simply because you’re worried that your item might malfunction. Fear can be a very strong motivator.
Keep in mind, though, that the reason it’s called an “extended warranty” is that the item already comes with an included manufacturer’s warranty. An extended warranty is not always worth the cost, especially since many of them have so many things they don’t cover.
If, however, you’re still concerned about your item, you should check with your credit card company. Believe it or not, some of them provide free extended warranties – which is much better than having to pay for it.
Did you know that your credit card might get you special savings at wineries in different areas? That you can get cashback shopping at specific stores, like Saks Fifth Avenue? That you can earn Uber credit for every ride you take? Or that you can get a ShopRunner membership for free?
Do any of those perks sound like a good deal to you? If so, check with your credit card company and read the fine print. Also, keep an eye on their social media pages, as they’ll often share information on perks and provide updates on any new ones.
Remember that not all cards or credit card companies offer the same exact perks. It’s important that you talk to your credit card company about all the specific perks you get. If you don’t have a card yet, be sure you compare these perks before choosing one.
Steps to Take After You’ve Chosen a Credit Card
After you have carefully considered all the credit cards that are available to you and chosen the one you want, the work isn’t over just yet. Actually, it’s just begun, and there are some steps you need to take to ensure that everything works smoothly.
1. Read and Reread the Fine Print
It’s important that you understand exactly how your card works. Yes, you probably looked at all of this while choosing your card, but it’s important to go back over it. When you’re comparing cards, all of the information can get a little tangled up. Once you’ve chosen one, you need to go back and clarify all of the information in your head. This includes interest rates, monthly billing cycles, perks, and anything else that is involved in your usage.
2. Add It to Your Budget
Once you know the interest rate and billing date, you’ll need to add it to your budget so that you’ll not get behind with your bill. If you can decide exactly how much you’ll use the card for each month, you can go ahead and set up auto payments. Try to make these payments go through before the close of your billing cycle to avoid interest on your purchases.
Need help setting up a budget and ensuring everything goes as planned? Sign up for your member key at the Goalry Mall. You can use it to set and follow your budget, work on your credit, keep up with all of your accounts, and do anything else you need to do to keep your finances on track.
3. Don’t Get Complacent
Your card might seem perfect for the moment, but it may not always be that way. Many cards offer introductory periods with lower interest and free perks. After the introductory period is over, interest rates can go through the roof. Perks sometimes disappear and sometimes start costing you each month.
After using your card for several months – and especially when you’re nearing the end of the introductory period – take some time to compare it to other cards. This is the best way to ensure that your credit card always works harder for you than you do for it.
Again, credit cards can be very handy and can offer some very useful perks. However, they can also cost you more in the long run than they’re worth if you do not consider them carefully and manage them wisely. Take the time to compare all available cards and make a plan to take care of the balance every single month. And remember, even the best credit card perks are no good unless they actually benefit you.
Brandy Woodfolk is an educator, home business owner, project manager, and lifelong learner. After a less than stellar financial upbringing, Brandy dedicated her schooling and independent studies to financial literacy. She quickly became the go-to among family, friends, and acquaintances for everything finance. Her inner circle loves to joke that she is an expert at “budgeting to the penny”. Brandy dedicates a large portion of her time to teaching parents how to succeed financially without sacrificing time with their little ones. She also teaches classes to homeschooled teenagers about finances and other life skills they need to succeed as adults.
Brandy writes about smart money management and wealth building in simple and relatable ways so all who wish to can understand the world of finance.