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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.

More by this author

Marc Felgar

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

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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