If you are like most people, when you apply for a credit card, you tend to concentrate on its most obvious features: rate, rewards, credit line and the like. While these are all important issues that you should evaluate carefully before you choose a new card, they are not the only factors to consider. Many credit cards probably even some you already own include several very helpful features that many people forget to ever use.
# 1: Purchase Protection
Many credit cards today include a purchase protection program, which is exactly what it sounds like a short-term warranty on most items you buy. A purchase protection program will generally apply for 90 days from the date that you buy a new item, although the exact period can vary from one card company to another. If, during that time, your purchase breaks or is stolen, the credit card company will refund you its purchase price, up to ,000 from MasterCard and American Express and 0 from Visa. Make sure you examine the policy detail of each card you are considering, since they can sometimes vary considerably.
# 2: Warranty Extensions
In addition to the short-term coverage offered by the purchase protection program, many credit cards also include an actual extension of the original manufacturer's warranty for many purchases. This extension will generally not apply to certain items, such as cars and other motorized vehicles; for the items to which it does apply, however, it will generally double the coverage period of the original warranty, up to one year.
# 3: Online Discounts
Virtually every major credit card company has an online shopping portal that you can access by logging on to their official web site. This shopping portal will provide often significant discounts on purchases you make from a wide variety of major retailers.
# 4: Rental Car Damage Coverage
Car rental companies will generally offer you short-term coverage to ensure that you are not held liable for any damage if you get into an accident will driving a rented vehicle. However, with most credit cards, you already have this coverage automatically. The card will pay you back for your out-of-pocket expenses if you find yourself in this type of situation, including the deductible from your personal car insurance as well as any towing, administrative and other costs the rental company may charge you. The details of these programs will vary from card to card as well, such as the rental period that is covered and how any personal belongings lost or stolen are handled.
# 5: Luggage Reimbursement
You can also file a claim for the total cost of your luggage if it is lost or damaged while you are traveling by almost any means besides a car. Again, the specific details will vary from credit card to credit card; most major cards will limit the total amount they will cover to about ,000 per trip, and most will only cover the difference between the value of your luggage and any reimbursement you receive from the travel company.
Of course, no perk is sufficient reason on its own to apply for a credit card you do not need, or will not be able to use responsibly. If, however, you genuinely do need the card, choosing one that offers the best possible perks and then taking full advantage of them is only common sense.