Understanding the Best Credit Card Perks
I cringe whenever I see a debit card used. It’s probably the biggest tell tale sign that I’m a miles and points snob. But, it’s also more than that: The security breach at Target taught us that using credit instead of debit is actually safer.
We’ve spoken at length about credit card perks here on the blog. We’ve gushed and gushed about our American Express Platinum, a credit card that offers us $200 airline credits (hello gift cards), a waiver to apply for Global Entry (hello short lines at airports), as well as elite status in car programs and hotels (thanks for the free upgrade), and access to airport lounges around the world (nothing beats a shower in a connecting city after a long flight). These benefits are the cream of the crop by most travelers standards, but there’s more hidden deep in terms and details of our credit card.
The same could be said of our Chase Sapphire Preferred. We love double points at restaurants and on travel. Since we’re practically abroad as much as we are at home, we can’t get enough of it’s no foreign transaction fees. But again, there’s more. Because believe it or not, some of the best credit card perks are ones often not raved about when we talk solely miles, points, and cash back benefits.
A friend and reader of this blog traveled to Brazil for the World Cup.
A soccer nerd of the most epic proportions, he packed every jersey he owned into his bag. But there was a problem: When he was waiting to pick his back up in baggage claim, it never showed. Angry and at a loss for what to do, he sent me a message. The credit card he used was with Chase and had great consumer protection. Buy what you need and keep the receipts was my advice to him, you’ll be reimbursed. He got what he needed, from toiletries to new soccer jerseys. He went to some of the best games of the World Cup and when preparing to depart Brazil he decided he’d go lodge one last complaint with the airline, for never finding his bag in the 3 weeks he was in Brazil, but he need not talk for long: There, under the desk of the agent he was talking to, he saw the top of his backpack poking out.
When he arrived back in the United States, bag in hand, he still submitted receipts for the clothes and toiletries he went without. Almost instantly, he received reimbursement. It was practically painless.
That’s just one example of the benefits people often take for granted with a top credit card, but there’s more!
Car Rental Insurance
Most credit cards provide secondary car rental insurance which should cover any costs your primary auto insurance company won’t cover. So decline that expensive insurance offer from the car rental company. The Chase Sapphire Preferred does even one better: Primary auto insurance. If you live without a car and thus have no car insurance, your Sapphire (and many other cards) offer primary insurance.
Benefits aplenty in this area for many of your cards: Trip cancelation and interruption services, lost and delayed baggage support, even global medical and legal support for many cards, like any Amex that receives support through the Global Assist program.
Never buy a big item with a debit card. The strengths and protections just aren’t the same as credit cards. Your credit card helps you guard against fraudulent charges but it also serves as a warranty of sorts often times for many of your purchases.
But Wait, there’s more!
For a glimpse at the various protections, I think the Points Guy has a great breakdown of benefits by many common cards. There was also a recent New York Times article a reader sent our way worth reading. The point is this: Benefits go beyond sign up bonuses, double points here and there, and elite status. The moment your bag is lost, you’ll not only be thankful to have a shower in some swanky lounge, you’ll also rest easy knowing all the clothing and toiletries you’re about to buy, won’t technically cost you a penny… If you used the right credit card to purchase that airline ticket!