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Right now, toilet paper is one of the hottest commodities in America.
Panic buying resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has led to empty shelves and futile online searches.
But did you know that your credit card company can help you track some down?
See related: Coronavirus: Can credit card travel insurance help?
Which credit cards offer concierge services?
Many credit cards offer free concierge services. These include all Visa Signature cards, all World and World Elite Mastercards, most Citi credit cards and select American Express cards (mostly high-end offerings such as the Centurion card and The Platinum Card® from American Express). The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards card qualifies, and it doesn’t charge an annual fee.
Most often, these concierges are trained to assist with travel bookings, hard-to-find restaurant reservations, gift ideas, and sports and theater tickets. Typically, their advice is free, but you need to pay for the goods or services they’re able to obtain.
How I used my card’s concierge services to find toilet paper
On Thursday, I called the Visa Signature concierge hotline to see if they could help me track down some of that elusive T.P. I had to enter my Visa Signature card number (it happens to be a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card).
Most people probably don’t know offhand if they have a Visa Signature card, so pull out your card and look for the logo. There’s a good chance you have one.
A friendly concierge picked up right away, and I explained what I was looking for. We clarified a few particulars about my name, location and request (for instance, I was hoping to find a store within 10 miles that had toilet paper available), and she pledged to get back to me within a few hours.
I also reached out to a Citi concierge with the same request. Despite promising to get back to me within a few hours, it took them 26 hours, but they ultimately came through as well. I received an email from the Citi concierge that Key Food, a local grocery store, had just received a large shipment of toilet paper. I called the store to verify this, as I had done with Walgreens the day before.
These were my two first times contacting a credit card concierge service. I was very impressed. I’m not normally in the market for trendy restaurants or sold-out sporting events — I’m a pretty ordinary suburban dad — but I will definitely be on the lookout for ways to utilize this free service again.
This is a great example of how to get added value from your existing credit cards. That will be important in the weeks and months to come because it may get more difficult to qualify for new cards as the economy reels from the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
If you already have cash back or points-earning cards in your wallet that feature bonus reward categories, consider using them for what you plan to buy the most while you’re hunkered down. Many cards offer extra rewards for select streaming services, grocery shopping, dining (which now means take-out or delivery for most of us) and drug store purchases. Even 2% or 3% extra cash back in these kinds of spending categories can add up to significant savings over a few months.
Additionally, some cards allow you to pay for select purchases over time — which can help you buy an essential item you need without plunking down a load of cash right away.
Finally, if you’ve lost your job or had your income reduced and you have card debt, contact your issuers and see what relief they can offer. Several credit card companies are allowing cardholders affected by the COVID-19 outbreak to skip payments, as well as waiving fees and lowering interest rates.
Have a question about credit cards? Email me at [email protected] and I’d be happy to help.
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