Under-the-radar credit card perks you should know
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Whether you’re in the market for a new travel rewards card or a student credit card, you’re probably going to do some research to see what perks each card offers. Depending on both the issuer and the specific card you’re looking at, benefits can vary — which is why you should read a card’s terms and conditions to see what you’d have access to before you apply.
It’s a good idea to learn about different credit card perks so you can decide which perks will benefit you more. If you’re a frequent traveler, for example, airport lounge access or travel insurance might make a card’s annual fee worth it. Likewise, if you’re just looking for an everyday-spending card, a no-annual-fee cash back card might offer purchase protection and extended warranties that could help you out.
With that in mind, here are a few under-the-radar (but useful) credit card benefits, and some top credit cards that include these perks.
Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
Sometimes travel plans don’t work out. Your flight may be delayed or canceled due to bad weather, or you may have to pause a trip due to circumstances outside of your control. If you find yourself in a situation with a non-refundable plane ticket that you won’t be able to use, credit card travel insurance may be able to offer some support.
The best travel cards often come with some type of travel insurance. With trip cancellation and interruption insurance, you’ll receive coverage whenever you use your eligible credit card to pay for certain travel expenses. In the event that your trip is canceled or delayed due to factors outside of your control, your travel expenses may be refunded up to a certain amount. This is often true even for expenses that are non-refundable through the provider.
Here are some of our picks for the best credit cards with trip cancellation/interruption insurance:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: For eligible situations and events, you’ll receive trip cancellation and interruption insurance of up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip; this covers pre-paid, non-refundable travel costs like flights, hotels or tours
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: For eligible situations and events, you’ll receive trip cancellation and interruption insurance of up to $10,000 per trip and up to $20,000 per eligible card every 12 months for non-refundable travel expenses (additional terms apply)
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: For eligible situations and events, you’ll receive trip cancellation and interruption insurance of up to $5,000 per person and $10,000 per covered trip for pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses
There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination only to find that your luggage isn’t there to meet you. In the event that your luggage is lost or delayed, time will most likely be taken out of your trip to resolve the issue (such as a quick trip to the nearest shop to replace clothing and toiletries).
Many travel credit cards offer benefits designed to take some of the hassles out of travel, and most luggage protection benefits will cover your luggage if it is either delayed or lost by the carrier. If your luggage is permanently lost, coverage will reimburse you for the value of your lost luggage up to a certain amount.
Here are some of our picks for the best credit cards with luggage protection:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Lost luggage reimbursement of up to $3,000 per passenger for lost or damaged luggage (by the carrier); coverage applies to the primary cardholder and an immediate family member
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Lost luggage reimbursement of up to $3,000 per covered trip for luggage that is lost or damaged by the carrier (maximum of $2,000 per bag for New York residents)
- Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: If your card is a Visa Signature card, you may receive a lost luggage reimbursement benefit (see your card’s benefits guide for details)
The information about the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card was last updated on Feb. 9, 2023.
Priority boarding and free checked bags
If you’ve ever been upgraded on a flight, you’ll know how good it can feel to board a plane early. You won’t have to fight for overhead bin space for your carry-on, and you’ll have more time to relax before the flight.
Many top co-branded airline credit cards feature priority boarding benefits, and they may also offer free checked bags, too. Depending on the card, you may even be able to use the free-checked-bag perk to cover more than one bag — including the luggage for other travelers on your itinerary.
Here are some of our picks for the best credit cards with priority boarding and free checked baggage:
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Main Cabin 1 priority boarding and first checked bag free on Delta flights for the cardholder and up to nine passengers on the same reservation
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®*: Preferred boarding and first checked bag free on eligible American Airlines flights for the cardholder and up to four companions on the same reservation
Airport lounge access
Airports are not the most comfortable places to hang out, especially when you have a few hours to kill before a flight. However, airport lounge access makes lingering around an airport worth it. Airport lounges can be great places to wait for your flight instead of crowding with others at the gate. Most lounges offer some complimentary snacks, drinks and Wi-Fi, too.
Anyone can snag a membership at an airport lounge, but if you carry the right credit card, you may be able to walk in for free. Premium travel cards often come with airport lounge access, and sometimes this perk will extend access to your fellow travelers, as well. Other times, traveling companions are allowed access but must pay a fee.
Here are some of our picks for the best credit cards with airport lounge access:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Priority Pass Select membership with complimentary access to over 1,300 VIP airport lounges across more than 500 cities worldwide
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Unlimited access for you and two guests to Capital One Lounges and over 1,300 Priority Pass Select lounges
- The Platinum Card from American Express: Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes over 1,400 lounges worldwide across 650 cities
Auto rental collision damage waiver
Renting a car when you’re traveling can give you the freedom to come and go as you please. Whether you’re renting a car for business or leisure, rental car insurance is a must. Many credit cards include some form of auto rental coverage, which can be primary or secondary coverage. Usually, you’ll see a benefit called an auto rental collision damage waiver, which typically offers you primary insurance coverage if you decline the auto rental company’s insurance.
Here are some of our picks for the best credit cards with rental car insurance:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: When you decline the rental company’s insurance and charge the rental to your card, you’ll receive primary rental coverage against collision damage and theft, up to the actual cash value of the car; applies to most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: When you decline the rental company’s insurance and charge the rental to your card, you’ll receive primary rental coverage against collision damage and theft when renting a car for business purposes, up to the actual cash value of the car; applies to most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: When you decline the rental company’s insurance and charge the rental to your card, you’ll receive primary rental coverage against collision damage and theft, up to the vehicle’s actual cash value (maximum value of $75,000)
While ordering packages from the comfort of your own home is great, it can have a few downsides. For one, there’s a possibility that an item will arrive damaged. Even worse, someone may steal it. However, most credit cards come with purchase protection, which covers the replacement of purchases you make that end up stolen or damaged. Just keep in mind that this benefit usually has a cap on the amount you can be refunded each year or the number of purchases you can claim. You also normally have to make your claim within a specific timeframe of making the purchase.
Here are some of our picks for the best credit cards with purchase protection:
- Chase Freedom Flex℠: Coverage against damage or theft up to 120 days after the purchase date; maximum of $500 per claim and $50,000 per account
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®*: Coverage against damage or theft up to 120 days after the purchase date; maximum of $500 per claim and $50,000 per account
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Purchase protection for up to 90 days from the date of purchase, and the maximum claim amount is limited to $1,000 per covered purchase and up to $50,000 per covered card per year
When you buy a big-ticket item like a television or a computer, your purchase will usually come with a warranty. This warranty covers any issues you may have with your purchase for a specific timeframe. But what happens if your new computer stops working a few days after the warranty expires? That’s where a credit card extended warranty benefit can help.
Many rewards credit cards offer an extended warranty benefit that extends the manufacturer’s warranty period by a certain period of time. The extension is usually a year of extra coverage, but it can sometimes be longer. Much like a manufacturer’s warranty, this extended warranty will typically cover the cost to repair or replace an item (up to the original purchase price).
Here are some of our picks for the best credit cards with extended warranty coverage:
- American Express® Gold Card: For eligible warranties of five years or less, the original manufacturer’s warranty is extended by up to one year with a $10,000 maximum coverage amount per item (up to $50,000 per eligible card per year)
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: For items purchased with your card, eligible U.S. manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less are extended by one year, with a $10,000 maximum coverage amount per claim (up to $50,000 per account)
For many of us, our cellphones are like our lifelines. Not only do they connect us to loved ones and friends, but they can also be our main way to access the Internet.
If something happens to your cellphone, your credit card may have your back. Some credit cards come with cellphone protection, a benefit that typically covers your cellphone in the event that it is stolen or damaged. To be able to take advantage of this benefit, you’ll typically need to use your credit card to pay your monthly cellphone bill. There’s also usually a cap on the number of claims you can make in a year and each individual claim amount.
Here are some of our picks for the best credit cards with cellphone protection:
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Cardholders and employees listed on the monthly cellphone bill paid by this card receive up to $1,000 per claim in cellphone protection against covered theft or damage; maximum of three claims per 12 months with a $100 deductible
- Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card: Coverage against damage or theft for up to $600 per claim (with a $25 deductible) each month you pay your cellphone bill with your card; maximum of two claims per year
- Chase Freedom Flex: When you pay your cellphone bill with your card, receive coverage against damage or theft for up to $800 per claim and $1,000 in annual coverage; maximum of up to two claims per 12 months; a $50 deductible per claim applies
The bottom line
Credit cards are not just handy tools to use for shopping and maximizing rewards. When researching the best credit cards, take some time to also research the benefits that each card offers. While you may initially be attracted to a card because of its generous welcome bonus, it could also offer some great, lesser-known protections and perks.
*All information about the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®* and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.