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Take Advantage of These 9 Free Credit Card Benefits and Save Big

Take Advantage of These 9 Free Credit Card Benefits and Save Big

Aside from rewards, many credit cards offer massive cost saving opportunities, but you have to know where to look and what to do.

From free travel medical insurance to low price guarantees, many of us lose out on hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars because we have no clue what benefits our credit cards provide. Others simply waste money paying for something their credit card already offers for free.

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Here are just a few of the more common, and not so common, benefits you should check your credit card for, to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

1. Out of Country Travel Medical Insurance

While not as common with U.S. credit cards, many foreign cards, such as Canadian travel credit cards, offer free travel medical insurance. If your current healthcare provider doesn’t cover you for out of country medical emergencies, you need to ensure you’re protected when travelling. Without it, you can be on the hook for the entire cost of a medical procedure or hospital stay, which can literally go into the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars.

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2. Trip Cancellation

If you get sick right before a trip and have to cancel your vacation, it can cost you thousands. Your airline may be willing to reschedule your dates for a fee, but many cruise lines and resorts will charge you the full amount of your reservation if you cancel within two months of your stay. Trip cancellation insurance will protect you for a series of qualifying events and comes free with many travel credit cards.

3.  Car Rental Insurance

If you plan on renting a car while on vacation, there’s no doubt the car rental agent is going to pitch you to take out the rental agency’s insurance. Before doing so, see if your credit card already covers you. A simple check can save you $30 a day in insurance!

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4. Price Protection

This benefit isn’t offered by many credit cards, but it’s a super valuable perk, if you have it. Nothing causes buyers remorse more than finding an item on sale days after you bought the exact same product for more. Some credit cards offer price protection, so that if you find the same item on sale within 60 days of purchase, you’ll get compensated the difference, saving you hundreds of dollars!

5. Purchase Protection

Ever break, scratch or have your sunglasses stolen just days after you bought them? If you had purchase protection on your credit card you’d be in the clear. Before going out to repair or buy another item that may have been lost, broken or stolen, make sure you’re not already covered by your credit card for up to 90 days after purchase.

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6. Extended Warranty

Ever notice that every time you buy electronics or white goods at Best Buy, Staples, Home Depot, Lowe’s or Sears somebody’s trying to up-sell you extended manufacturers warranty? Before saying yes, consider that if you buy the item with your credit card, it may automatically double your manufacturer’s warranty by up to a year or more. Often times stores charge huge sums for extended warranties, sometimes as much as 20%-30% of the value of the purchase price itself. Relying on your credit card’s extended manufacturer’s warranty is a great way to save – especially when electronic items are being replaced so quickly anyhow.

7. No Foreign Transaction Fees

If you plan on travelling out of country, re-think exchanging your money at the bank, airport, hotel or currency exchange booth. Both MasterCard and Visa exchange your foreign purchases at pretty close to the spot rate. If you get a no foreign transaction fee credit card, you’ll be getting what could be the lowest exchange rate available. Instead of paying close to 10% over and above the spot exchange rate at an airport, you’ll be paying less than 1% with your card.

8. First Checked Bag Free

Airfare is only the first in a long line of a la carte fees airlines charge to get you from point A to point B. Before dolling out $30 each way to check your bags, make sure your credit card doesn’t already cover the cost. Some cards even offer free first checked bag for you and each of your travelling companions, which could add up to hundreds of dollars saved per trip.

9. Zero Liability

If you ever see any unauthorized charges on your credit card, you’re credit card issuer is on the hook to pay the charges, not you. Whether your card was stolen, a merchant added shipping charges you did not agree to, or a subscription service enrolled you into a program after a free trial without your permission, you’re protected. Instead of contesting the charge with the merchant, simply call your credit card issuer and they’ll take up the issue with the merchant directly.

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Marc Felgar

Marc Felgar is an aging, health & senior care expert focused on improving the lives of mature adults.

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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