While rewards credit cards are notorious for offering points good for cash back, travel, and gift cards, few people know how to utilize all the benefits their card offers. That's because, while many top rewards cards offer secret perks, they aren't blatantly advertised.
Most of the time, the hidden perks your card offers are tucked away in the fine print or buried in the paperwork you receive in the mail. When harnessed, however, these "hidden perks" can translate into hundreds of dollars of extra benefits you didn't even know you had.
Hidden Benefits Your Card Might Already Have
If you have a rewards card already, here are some of those "extra benefits" to look out for:
Rental Car Insurance
While some rewards cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, offer primary rental coverage (the kind you use in place of your own auto insurance) as a cardholder perk, other cards offer secondary coverage, which is often referred to as Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) coverage. In many cases, the coverage offered through your card is good enough to waive the additional coverage you can purchase at the auto rental counter altogether.
A handful of rewards cards offer extended return policies on items you purchase and can't return to the store otherwise. Card issuers generally put a cap on this perk, but it can still pay off nonetheless. For example, Discover cardholders can get back up to $500 per item. With certain cards from American Express, it's $300 per item with a maximum benefit of $1,000 per year.
If you've ever had an expensive appliance or electronic component die just after its warranty period, you'll want to hear this. Believe it or not, rewards cards from all of the main issuers – Discover, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express – offer a warranty that will repair or replace large ticket items purchased with the card beyond the typical one-year manufacturer's warranty. To qualify for an extended warranty, you'll need to use your card to purchase the item in question – and keep your receipt.
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance
If you travel frequently, you should know that certain rewards credit cards offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance as a cardholder perk. While you must use your card to pay for the trip to be eligible, this coverage can reimburse you for expenses that arise when your trip is cancelled or delayed for reasons outside your control. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers some of the best trip cancellation insurance around, as does the newly improved Citi Prestige® card.
Certain rewards cards will refund the difference if a large ticket item goes down in price within a certain length of time. The Citi Price Rewind program is one of the most popular in this niche, offering to refund the difference if any item you purchase with your card goes on sale within 60 days. To qualify for this perk, you have to use your card for the purchase and input your purchase details in the Citi Price Rewind system.
Free FICO Scores
Top rewards cards help you earn points and miles, some actually help you track your credit score as well. This includes certain cards from American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, Capital One, Citi, and Discover. While some cards offer a free FICO score on your monthly statement, others let you access it via online account management tools.
Emergency Travel Assistance
Travel rewards cards were created to help people save money on travel, but some cards go the extra mile and offer emergency travel assistance as a cardholder perk. This benefit can vary depending on the card issuer, but may include access to phone operators who can help you with alternate travel plans in an emergency or lost baggage protection.
While the points and miles you earn are the most obvious rewards garnered from using a rewards card, plenty of other benefits lurk just below the surface. To get the most out of your card, you should research everything it has to offer and formulate a strategy to maximize all of its perks, hidden and otherwise. And if you find your card isn't offering as many "extra" benefits as you would like, consider searching our list of top rewards cards for a better option.