10 Secret Benefits of Credit Cards

credit card benefits

“Getting a credit card is going to ruin your life,” “Credit cards are the devil,” “Credit cards are the root of all evil.”

Does anyone else see the irony in all of the above statements that people love to make on a regular basis (noses wrinkled and in the air with a touch of disdain dripping)? If you look carefully, you will see that each of the above statements says the same thing, “Credit cards cause debt.” Wrong. Incorrect. Do not pass go, do not collect your $200. You did not win the game. Credit cards, my friends, do not cause debt. People cause debt. Just like guns don’t kill people, people kill people. I don’t understand why this concept is so difficult for so many to grasp – and I feel that it makes it even more acceptable for people to get in over their heads because everyone is so quick to blame the card. I wonder if people would spend so much money they do not have if people said to them, “You are ruining your life. You are the devil. You are the root of all evil.”

Something tells me no. When the blame is focused on them, people are less likely to make mistakes. When it’s thrown around elsewhere, however, it seems to me that people are all too happy to toss the blame but make the mistakes. “Credit cards ruined me financially,” is what they say instead of, “I was irresponsible with my money and ruined myself financially.”

With that said, we don’t think that credit cards are bad. We think that people just don’t know how to use them. It’s too bad, really, because responsible credit card use can give you a lot of perks, such as free hotels, free airline tickets, free shopping, free gift cards, free everything; you can do a lot with a credit card that you cannot do without it – and the perks are numerous. Read on to find out which hidden credit card benefits are our favorites.

Roadside Assistance

Most of us have some sort of roadside assistance already in the form of our OnStar or our AAA memberships, but we can get rid of the fees we pay for those and enjoy the benefits of roadside assistance through our credit cards if we really want to. It’s a nice way to get some additional protection, and it’s certainly one of the biggest card benefits around.

Free Travel

Of course most people know about this one, but did you know that even if you don’t have enough points for something like a free airline ticket that you can get things like free hotel rooms or rental cars? It’s a nice concept for those who are looking to save a bit on their travel needs.

Extended Warranty

When you purchase items with a credit card, you might be eligible for an extended warranty that costs nothing out of pocket when making the purchase. The card is good to protect you just for using it to make your purchase. This could work on anything from a new television to other electronics to children’s toys.

Peace of Mind

When you have a credit card, you have some peace of mind. You know that you will be accepted anywhere you go. For example, I recently flew to Texas and had to rent a car. My trip was less than 24 hours from start to finish, and in my haste to narrow down my handbag, I switched to a smaller wallet and stuck my license and debit card only in it, forgetting my Amex at home. The car rental company refused to accept my debit card, even though the rental was already prepaid. I had to go to a different company that accepts debit cards. They then held $250 from my account. I also had to use the debit card at my hotel, and they held the nightly rate plus $100 – for over a week. A credit card would have saved me a lot of trouble had I remembered it in my other wallet.

Loss and Damage Protection

Certain credit cards will protect you against loss and damage of certain items, such as your luggage when you travel or even your iPod if it’s broken at the gym. You’ll have to buy these items on your card, or pay for your checked baggage on your card, but you will be protected, and that is a huge financial relief.

Cancellation Insurance

When you book travel, you know that you have to pay for cancellation insurance to help cover the cost of your trip if you are unable to go. Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to spend this kind of money since you are eligible to cancel your trip using your credit card protection. Be careful to ensure that this is something offered by your card, first, however.

Travel Assistance

If you’re out of town and you need help with something, most cards offer travel assistance. Let’s say that you are traveling out of the country when you are sick and need medical care. Your card will offer you the assistance you need, sometimes including things like temporary travel insurance that covers what your health insurance doesn’t cover out of the country.

A Great Credit Score

I mean, yes, who doesn’t know this? You can have the best credit score around if you use your card wisely and you don’t make late payments. It’s just one of the many hidden benefits associated with credit card use.

Free Money

We love this one. You can apply for a cash back card and get hundreds – or thousands – of dollars a year in cash back from the card for just making your everyday purchases. It will really pay off if you use your card to pay your monthly bills and then pay off the card in full. The more you spend, the more money you make in return.

Return Protection

If you buy something and the store won’t take it back, you could still get to return it. Some cards offer this. Say you buy a new table with your credit card, and you hate it or it arrives damaged. The store decides that they’re not going to refund you or accept your return, so you return it to the credit card company for a refund. Check your card’s fine print to see if this is an option.

Photo illustration by Matt Cardy/Getty Images


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