Credit cards offer more than just a convenient way to pay for things in stores and online. There’s also the increased purchasing power and potential for cash rewards that make them attractive. But, it’s the lesser-known and often underutilized credit card benefits that could hold the key to additional savings. A recent J.D. Power study found that only 36% of credit cardholders1 fully understand all their card’s benefits. Surprisingly, such perks can bring the most value to your finances.
Here are four credit card benefits that can help you make the most of your money and help guard against fraud, whether at home or on the road.
1) Mobile Device Protection
Using online bill pay to organize your finances is a smart way to avoid late fees and ensure payments arrive on time. But there’s at least one recurring bill you should consider paying by credit card — your cell phone bill. Paying this monthly bill with your credit card might allow you to take advantage of your card’s Cellular Wireless Telephone Protection program1. Details may vary, but credit card issuers with this protection may reimburse you for damage or theft of the device.
2) Auto Rental Protection
Before you sign your next car rental agreement, review your personal auto insurance coverage policy and credit card benefits statement. You might find that you already have sufficient coverage and can decline the optional coverage offered by the rental company. For example, if your credit card issuer offers MasterRental™ Insurance or a similar protection, and if you use that card to rent a car, you could skip the optional collision/damage waiver and save money. Be sure to review your credit card’s Guide to Benefits, which explains coverage limitations.
3) Identity Theft Protection
With identity theft a constant threat to consumers, credit card issuers offer smart ways to protect your card from fraud or theft. For instance, by enrolling in Mastercard’s ID Theft Protection Program 1 you can take advantage of a host of identity theft resolution services. This includes monitoring your account to ward off potential fraud attempts, and having access to identity theft resolution specialists who will assist you round the clock should you experience an identity theft incident, which is particularly helpful if you travel abroad. Another perk: lost wallet assistance, with specialists who can cancel and replace stolen or missing items including your driver’s license, passport, Social Security, debit and credit cards.
4) Travel Protections
Carrying sizeable amounts of cash is risky and unnecessary due to the convenience of credit cards. Besides making it easier to track your spending and activate fraud protections, some credit cards offer trip cancellation, accident, and baggage insurance for a small fee or at zero cost. If you get sick and need to reschedule travel for another time, rebooking fees traditionally take a bite out of your wallet. However, if you reserved an upcoming trip using your credit card, you might avoid hefty airline and hotel cancellation fees.
Do Your Homework
Remember, all credit cards aren’t created equal. For example, retail store and travel rewards credit cards may come with great benefits, but if you don’t pay off your balance each month, their higher interest rates might cancel out the loyalty points or cash back rewards you might earn. Getting the most from your credit card starts by understanding what it can do for you and your wallet.
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Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or GreenPath Financial Wellness counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.
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