If you’re like most people, you carry a few credit cards in your purse or wallet, some of which you might not even use regularly. Even if you’re diligent about not carrying a balance, you may want to keep some accounts active just for the credit card perks.
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Not all credit cards have the same perks, of course, so your mileage may vary. It’s worth keeping a tally of which of your cards carry which benefits, though, since some of them can really come in handy at times. Here are a few common credit card benefits you might not know about.
Free FICO Credit Score and/or Credit Report
Discover Card and many Visa and MasterCard issuers now offer free access to your FICO credit score, which used to cost around $30 to buy on your own. Some cards will even give you a free copy of your credit report.
Exclusive Access to Concert and Event Tickets
Many Visa and MasterCard accounts offer “concierge” services which claim to be able to get tickets for you to popular concerts and sporting events, even ones that are sold out. I’ve never tried this service, but rumor has it that it’s an underused service and wonderful way to surprise someone special.
Some cards even offer tickets before they go on sale to the general public. You won’t save money buying tickets this way, and you’ll still have to pay any fees charged by Ticketmaster. You will save on the upcharges and uncertainty involved in finding a scalper, though, if that was your planned alternative.
Identity Theft Protection
Many credit cards offer a service that’ll cancel all of your credit cards and request new ones in the event your identity has been stolen, as well as provide other assistance to get you through the crisis.
If you’re having trouble returning an item that you purchased using a credit card, check to see if that card has a “return protection” benefit. It’s used to reimburse you for an item you no longer want but which the seller won’t take back.
Unfortunately for the vendors, they’re probably the ones who get tagged for the money that comes back to you. That makes this an almost no-cost perk and therefore very common across various credit card accounts. You also probably can’t return defective items, since those would be covered under a manufacturer’s warranty.
Buy an expensive TV last week and found it on sale for $300 less this week? Check with the credit card you used for the purchase to see if they have “price protection,” which can refund the difference between what you paid and what the item is now on sale for.
Free Two-Day Shipping and Free Shipping on Returns
American Express cardholders can sign up for a free membership with Shoprunner, regularly priced at $79 annually. The service offers free two-day shipping and free return shipping at numerous online stores, including Toys ‘R Us and Babies ‘R Us.
Accidental Damage Protection
As mentioned in a previous blog post, many credit cards offer some level of protection on items that are damaged in some way during the first 90 days after purchase.
Trip Cancellation Insurance
People commonly know that most credit cards come with some sort of rental car insurance, but a few select credit cards even include trip cancellation coverage. This benefit would kick in if you had to cancel a trip you already paid for due to illness or injury.
If your credit card offers this nice perk, you’ll want to read the fine print before you forgo paying for the same type of travel insurance, to make sure you’re not left in a lurch. You also want to make sure you don’t pay for the same type of insurance if you don’t have to.
Emergency Travel Help
If you’re traveling outside the country and need some help, many credit cards have your back. Maybe you’re sick and need to find an English-speaking doctor, or you’ve lost your passport, credit cards, money or all of the above. Discover even offers language translation services over the phone to their card holders.
You’ll have to pay the cost of any medical, legal or other assistance. The card issuer will provide referrals, but won’t cover any fees involved. Credit cards often provide other travel assistance, too, including pre-trip information. Some even have travel agents to help with booking your hotel and air.
Discounts and Deals
Many credit cards, including Discover and some Bank of America credit cards, offer special discounts and deals. Login to your account online and look for a Rewards or Deals section for more details. You may find discounts at both online and offline retailers.