By the time most people are old enough to open a credit card, they’ve undoubtedly heard countless cautionary tales of friends and family members who dug themselves into debt, faced hefty interest rates after not reading the fine print, or destroyed their credit scores with a few poor decisions.
Don’t let a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch. A hasty generalization that there are no good credit cards might help you avoid potential perils, but it also means you’ll never enjoy the countless benefits of having a credit card — including a handful of secret perks.
Almost everyone is familiar with the most basic rewards programs credit cards offer, such as cash back and travel rewards. Did you know some credit cards offer lesser-known advantages that aren’t frequently advertised?
Here are four hidden benefits many lenders offer that could change the way you use your credit cards:
1. Roadside Assistance
It's every traveler’s nightmare: You're driving in an unfamiliar area, your car breaks down, and you have nobody nearby who can help. Even if you don't have roadside assistance through your vehicle or car insurance provider, your credit card company might be able to help.
Many credit card issuers — including Capital One, Chase, and U.S. Bank — offer roadside assistance to cardholders. Whether you need a tow truck, a jump start, a new tire, or a locksmith, a quick call to your card's customer service line can get you whatever help you need. Read the fine print of your contract or give your lender a quick call to see if you have the benefit.
Some companies charge you a flat rate for the service — somewhere in the range of $60 per call. Mastercard, for instance, has pre-negotiated prices with various service providers. Note that the costs aren’t stated upfront, so you might not know the price until your bill arrives. Still, going through your credit lender can save you time and the headache of hunting for the best deal.
2. Concert Tickets
Think about the last time your favorite band came through town. You probably scrambled to secure tickets as soon as they went on sale only to end up with so-so seats or miss the concert altogether. You probably didn’t know your credit card could lend a hand, did you?
While you probably can’t get a discount on the tickets — let’s not get greedy — you could be able to nab seats before they go on sale to the general public. You might also be able to access preferred seats set aside for cardholders instead of getting stuck in the nosebleeds.
This sort of deal is made through third parties like Ticketmaster, so you'll still have to pay any associated service fees. Cardholders typically log in with their account details or a special password, and you will need to charge the purchase to your card. Still, it beats paying hundreds of dollars extra to buy tickets from a scalper after the show is sold out.
3. Buyer's Remorse Coverage
Ever buy something, bring it inside your house, and suddenly realize you’ve made a huge mistake? We've all been there. Fortunately, all is not lost.
Even if it's too late to return the item to the store — or if the retailer doesn't accept returns — your credit card lender might be able to refund your purchase. Issuers who offer this service have limits as to how much they'll refund. Visa, for example, offers cardholders refunds of up to $250 per item. Many lenders also have a yearly refund cap, so you can’t renege on every purchase.
There are also restrictions on the items companies will refund. Your purchase typically needs to be in great condition — unused in its original packaging — and you’ll need a receipt. You’ll also need to make your claim within a certain amount of time, which is often 30 to 90 days.
4. Trip Cancellation Protection
Not many cards offer this perk, but it can be a lifesaver if you need to unexpectedly cancel a trip and your flight is nonrefundable.
Some cards offer cash as insurance against trip delays, covering hotel stays, meals, and other associated expenses. Others will refund your entire trip — up to a certain amount — to make up for nonrefundable expenses.
The catch? You need to provide proof that you had to cancel your trip because of an emergency, such as the death of an immediate family member or a serious illness or injury. In other words, deciding you should probably save your money instead of going ahead with your planned two-week tour of Europe probably isn’t valid justification for a refund.
Competition is stiff in the credit card industry. Lenders are constantly offering more rewards and benefits to entice applicants. Some credit card issuers go above and beyond to sway prospective cardholders, offering secret perks that most people never know exist. Your current credit cards might already offer some of these incredible benefits — you simply need to know what to look for to enjoy the perks.
Looking for a card with plenty of benefits? Use our Credit Card Finder service to find a card with exactly the perks — obvious and hidden — you want most.
Editorial Disclaimer: Information in these articles is brought to you by CreditSoup. Banks, issuers, and credit card companies mentioned in the articles do not endorse or guarantee, and are not responsible for, the contents of the articles. The information is accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted; however, all credit card information is presented without warranty. Please check the issuer’s website for the most current information.