Tap your credit card’s perks and protections

S.F. Ehrlich Associates |

Utter the words “credit card,” and reactions can run the gamut. At one end of the spectrum are people who never use a credit card because they do not want to end each month with debt. They focus on paying for all purchases with cash, or by using a check or debit card. (When a credit card balance is not paid in full when due, typically high interest charges begin to accrue.)

At the other end of the spectrum, some people have learned to use credit cards in the most effective ways imaginable. There are even websites to help you (a) research the best credit cards for your usage and interests, and (b) learn when and how to use the miles/points you earn using said credit cards. (As an aside, the story is told that the man behind The Points Guy, Brian Kelly, borrowed $10,000 from his parents in 2010 to start a credit card blog. Two years later, Bankrate.com purchased that blog for over $20 million! Yes, there’s money in credit cards!)

While many credit card users know how to accumulate points to pay for hotels, flights, and certain other ‘stuff,’ there are also benefits you may not be aware you have, and many can even save you money1.

Travel Help: “Insurance for trip cancellation or interruption kicks in if your prepaid or non-refundable flight is canceled…Although the coverage limits vary, you will generally get the most comprehensive insurance benefits with travel cards that have annual fees.” In addition, “your card may also offer benefits that can get you through airport security or customs quicker. Several travel cards offer a statement credit to cover TSA PreCheck ($85 for five years) or Global Entry ($100 for five years). As a bonus, your card may cover you for CLEAR ($189 a year), the biometric identification scanner at the airport, in full or at a discounted rate.” Some card issuers also offer travel agency features. Finally, “If you decide to book a rental car through your credit card travel portal or directly with a credit card company, you may also have rental car insurance as a perk.”

Dining and Entertainment: “Food-delivery memberships and discounts are among the trendy benefits now…” to include, sometimes, a complimentary or discounted, DashPass. Credit cards also offer discounts for streaming services (think Disney+, Hulu) or media (Sirius XM Radio, New York Times). If you like to attend concerts, sporting events, or certain festivals, some companies offer their cardholders early access to purchase tickets. Perhaps you’d even like to play on a private golf course? And if you love a good museum, look for discounts with the card(s) you hold.

Shopping: Digital coupons abound if you purchase items through your card website. Not only might you get a statement credit, but some issuers allow you to build up points that can be exchanged to purchase even more ‘stuff.’ If online purchases are damaged when you receive them or stolen by a porch pirate, some cards offer insurance from theft. Others offer replacement insurance if an item is broken within 90 days of purchase. Further, warranties may also be extended past the period offered by the manufacturer, a benefit many cardholders often overlook.

Credit Monitoring: “Your benefits may include credit monitoring and identity-theft protection…” These services may “track your Social Security number, scan the “dark web,” and send alerts about credit inquiries or new accounts.” You may also receive alerts if your credit score changes. Also, check to see if your card covers you for identity theft protection, a very valuable benefit if your identity is ever stolen. Are you paying extra for insurance on your new smartphone? If you bought it with certain credit cards, that protection might already be offered.

Fraud Protection: Perhaps the best benefit of all involves fraud protection. “If someone uses your credit card fraudulently, federal law limits your liability to $50. American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa assume all liability for unauthorized purchases.” Even more protection against fraud is afforded to certain cardholders who can disguise credit card purchases with virtual credit card numbers when buying online. Thus, a security breach at the merchant where you made a purchase would not result in your credit card number being stolen.



1 “Tap Your Credit Card’s Perks and Protections.” Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Jan. 2023.



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