It’s no secret that credit cards can lead to major financial problems if they are not used properly. But all the hand-wringing over today’s astronomical credit card debt numbers can unfairly overshadow the many hidden benefits that come with your favorite piece of plastic.
In fact, when used responsibly, many credit cards can be a big help and actually save you money. Here are a few hidden credit card benefits to consider:
1. Price protection
Ever purchased an item you desperately wanted before spotting it at another store a week later for $50 less? If a card has the price protection feature, the credit card issuer will refund you the difference between the two items. Just be sure you understand what does and does not qualify for such protection.
2. Extended warranty
Many stores make a nice chunk of change by selling extended warranties. I once was asked to buy an extended warranty for $5 on an item that cost only $25. Fortunately, some credit card issuers offer a warranty that will double the warranty of the manufacturer by up to one year. And you get the perk for free.
3. Replacement for stolen or damaged items
The card issuer may replace an item you recently purchased if it’s damaged or stolen within a specified time frame. In some instances, cellphones are covered under this benefit.
4. Extended refund period
Did you purchase an item that you no longer want, but the store refuses to take it back because the return period has lapsed? You may be able to seek a refund from your credit card issuer. In some cases, your lender may extend the refund period to up to 60 days.
5. Concierge service
Some credit cards offer the option to call a toll-free number and get instant access to a company representative who can assist you with everyday tasks that may be a bit time-consuming, such as deliveries, travel arrangements and reservations. It’s almost like having a personal assistant at your disposal, minus the fees.
6. Zero liability for fraud
Identity theft is real and scary. Fortunately, many credit card lenders offer zero-liability fraud protection. In a nutshell, if someone steals your card and runs up a bunch of fraudulent charges, you won’t owe a dime for those phony purchases. It’s tough to beat protection like that.
7. Travel perks
Select credit cards come with free access to travel discounts, upgrades and airport lounges. You may even be able to skip the costly coverage that rental car companies try to lure you into buying.
If things take a bad turn and the luggage with your wedding dress gets lost or delayed, your credit card may cover you. Check out its travel insurance protections.
8. Entertainment perks
Want awesome seats to your favorite singer’s concert? It may be possible to obtain tickets for preferred seating through your credit card issuer. Many offer exclusive access to special events, sometimes at a discounted rate.
9. Emergency card replacement and cash disbursement
If your card is lost, stolen or damaged, you may be able to receive a replacement card or emergency cash within 24 hours. So, if you’re stranded far away from home and lose your credit card, your card company may be your knight in shining armor.
10. The ability to dispute charges
Ever feel like a retailer has ripped you off? If you paid for the item with a credit card, call the issuer and dispute the charge. If you really have been wronged, chances are good that you will get your money back.
A word to the wise: If you’re thinking about taking this route, refer to the Fair Credit Billing Act for more details on how it works.
You can search through more than a dozen categories, including:
- Travel rewards
- Cash back
- Gas rewards
- No annual fee
- 0% APR
Do you have a favorite credit card to recommend? Share it in comments below or on our Facebook page.