NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Airline miles. Cash back. Points you can spend on discounted items. Every consumer knows about these common credit card perks, even if he's not taking advantage of them. But there's a whole host of credit card perks you might not be aware of, let alone using. Truth told, you might be spending thousands every year on products and services already provided by your credit card rewards programs.
Purchase Insurance, Extended Warranties and Other Purchase Protections
Ever buy something online and have a problem with it? The seller won't take it back, or it never arrives. Meanwhile, you're out a pile of cash for something that's been transformed into a paperweight, right? Wrong. John Heath, directing attorney with LexingtonLaw, points out that many credit cards have purchase insurance for just such an occasion. But as with all of our little-known perks, you need to have made the purchase on the card offering protection.
You can also get extended warranties on your purchases, according to Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer information with Credit.com. "Extended warranties can be a great perk," she says. Often times they double the manufacturers warranty. To cash in, you need to purchase the item with the right card, register it in a timely fashion and keep a record of the purchase. Extended return times are another similar perk.
Free Hotel Stays
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, there comes a time in a person's life when it's no longer seemly to sleep on a friend's couch. So you have to take on another few hundred dollars for a hotel room. But Heath says that a lot of travel-branded cards offer free hotel stays. "If you have a Hyatt card and you hit a certain spending threshold, you might get a couple of nights on them," he says.
More than just free hotel stays, you can also get upgrades on your rooms and upgraded to elite status on hotel-branded programs, says Detweiler. So take a look at your travel cards and see what they have to say in the way of hotel stays.
Business Lounge Access and Trip Cancellation Protection
There are few things worse than having to hang around the hallway of an airport when you're traveling. Dental surgery, maybe. But Detweiler points out that business lounge access for non-business travelers is a perk that comes with a lot of credit cards. So the next time you have a long layover, check to see if you have to spend it with the plebs or if you can mix with the upper crust for a bit.
And who hasn't wanted or needed to cancel a flight at some point? Detweiler notes that many travel cards also offer protection for your flight purchases. As long as you use the right card you won't have to worry about canceling your flights.
Cell Phone Replacement and Car Rental Insurance
We filed these both under the same header for a reason. First, Detweiler tipped us off to them. Second, they both replace useless forms of insurance that companies try and get you to buy to increase their margin. So stop paying for cell phone insurance and car rental insurance. Instead, find out which of your cards offers cell phone replacement and car rental insurance and start making the appropriate purchases (including your deposit on a rental car and your monthly cell phone bill) on the appropriate card. You'll save hundreds.
Making the Most of Your Credit Card Perks
"There are two keys to making the most of your credit card perks," says Detweiler. "The first is to know what perks your card offers." To that end, you should review all the rewards and perks on all your cards at least once a year. "The programs are going to require you to do something," she says. "In the case of a rental car, you need to rent and pay for the rental with the right card." So while you're looking into what perks you're being offered, make sure you're familiar with the terms and conditions.
There's so much more to credit cards rewards than just points. The more you know, the more you can save, the more money you have in your pocket.
--Written by Nicholas Pell for MainStreet