Your credit card isn’t just limited to the purchases you make. With so many credit card companies vying for your attention (and money), the perks, benefits and rewards are getting better.
Sure, rental insurance coverage and extended warranties are all but guaranteed when you get a new credit card, but not every card offers the same rewards. Before you sign up for a new credit card, or you just want to see what your current card offers, check out the best hidden credit card perks you might be missing out on.
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1. Enhanced cash-back rewards
Maybe you’ve seen cash-back rewards for up to 3% on standard items, like dining or gas. These standard cash-back cards offer cash (or statement credits) for large purchase categories. But some warehouse cards might offer higher rewards when you shop at their store. For example, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi* will give you 4% cash back on eligible gas and EV charging purchases (on up to $7,000 per year, then 1%), 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases, and 2% cash back on purchases from Costco and Costco.com. But there are some cards that go above and beyond.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, for example, earns 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), plus earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions (terms apply). Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. The Chase Freedom Flex℠* has a revolving quarterly 5% cash back category when you activate (on up to $1,500 in combined quarterly purchases, then 1%). It changes every quarter, letting you maximize your 5% rewards when you spend at different places. With a Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card*, you could earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases.
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2. TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
The airport TSA line is never the place to be. Luckily, there are a few credit cards who will cover your application fee for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry (which also includes PreCheck), which means you get to join these programs for free. PreCheck gets you through security much faster domestically and lets you forego removing your shoes, jacket and laptop in the security screening area. Global Entry covers all of that and expedites you through customs on international trips.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card*, for instance, will give you up to a $100 credit towards the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee. So does the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Keep in mind that both of these cards charge an annual fee (nothing is really ever free, is it?).
3. Hotel goodies
A free hotel breakfast sounds delicious but isn’t always part of the package when you book your room. Some cards offer rewards in the form of perks during your next hotel stay.
With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you get benefits just for being a cardholder. For instance, daily breakfast for two, possible room upgrades when available (think from a standard room to a suite), checkouts as late as 4 p.m. and free Wi-Fi, if necessary, when booking a Fine Hotels + Resorts stay through American Express Travel (terms apply).
The Platinum Card has a $695 annual fee, which is fine if you travel often. It might be a hefty price to pay if you only leave town a couple of times a year though.
4. Extended warranties
Rather than splurging for an extended warranty at the store, use your credit card instead for no extra charge. For example, some Citi credit cards offer a two-year extended warranty, and the coverage begins when the manufacturer’s warranty expires.
Not all credit cards offer extended warranties, and each card may have a different definition of what one is and what’s covered. Check to see what the limitations or exclusions are on a card before applying for it.
Some credit cards also offer purchase protection, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which covers new purchases for 120 days in the event the product is lost, stolen, or damaged (up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year). Like extended warranties, read the fine print closely to ensure it meets your expectations in the event you’ll need to cash in on the benefit.
5. Flight perks
Whether it’s a seat upgrade or a free checked bag, you can take advantage of your credit card when you take to the skies.
With the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, you can get a domestic flight companion certificate for a friend every year you renew the card (taxes and fees of no more than $80 still apply). You’ll also get your first checked bag free for every person on your reservation (up to nine people). There’s also access to the Delta Sky Club, the airline’s airport lounge, which could then give you access to meals and drinks for free or at a discount. Rewards cards like these often come with “mileage boosts” for your airline status. And, as expected, there is almost always an annual fee.
Keep an eye out for generous intro offers to make that annual fee more worthwhile.
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If you have family visiting, need to take the kids out, or just want to learn more about what’s in your city, you don’t always have to pay for it.
Bank of America cards, for instance, will give you access to museums for free on the first full weekend of the month. Some cards will give you an introductory offer -- everything from a statement credit to extra points -- as a sign-up bonus.
Most credit card companies offer free access to your credit score. That means you can keep tabs on how you’re doing without having to pay for it. While checking your credit report is good and you can nab yourself a copy for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, it’s a good idea to see your credit score as often as possible. That means as fast as once a week or for some, monthly.
Freebies can rotate and change depending on the card. What’s available today might not be around tomorrow. Shop around and compare freebies to see which ones can net you the best return.
*All information about the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Chase Freedom Flex, and the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
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