7 overlooked credit card perks

Written by
Curtis Arnold
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards.

At CardRatings.com we discuss the most up-to-date news and trends within the credit card space. Since we first pioneered the concept of online credit card reviews in 1998, our team of financial experts has provided comprehensive and unbiased credit card reviews for more than 175 cards, plus hundreds of additional resource articles to help educate everyday cardholders so they can feel more confident about their card choices. All our content is written and reviewed by industry experts. Though our content may occasionally contain references to products from our partners, we maintain strict editorial integrity and advertiser relationships and compensation never influences ratings, reviews or featured products. The difference between editorial content and advertising must always be clearly stated. Learn more.

Unless you are intimately familiar with the fine print in your credit card agreement, you might not realize that your favorite credit card can save you more money than you might have thought when you shop online, rent cars, travel abroad, or attend popular sporting events.

Credit card companies often compete with claims of low interest rates, reduced fees, or cash back rewards. Those aren’t the only ways that responsible credit card use can save you money though. Depending on your bank, you could be missing out on these unique credit card benefits:

1. Purchase protection and extended warranty coverage

Retailers hate chargebacks. If your manufacturer’s limited warranty on a broken item expired less than a year ago, contact the store where you made your purchase. If you act politely and don’t yell, a manager might allow you to exchange your purchase for a like item, just to avoid the potential hassle.

If that doesn’t work, call your card’s customer service hotline. Most Visa Signature and some MasterCard credit cards use a third-party claims program that will reimburse you for repair or replacement of eligible purchases.

2. Roadside assistance

Some credit card issuers now include limited roadside assistance privileges for any vehicle you’re a passenger in, other than a work vehicle. While benefits aren’t as comprehensive as an AAA membership, city dwellers and occasional drivers can enjoy access to jump starts, tire changes and short-distance towing. Cards that don’t include this feature with their standard benefits may offer it as an upgrade for a few dollars per month, much cheaper than the cost of an emergency wrecker call.

3. Car rental insurance

If you’ve ever tried renting a car without a credit card, this next perk will help explain the grimace on your clerk’s face if you hand over your prepaid debit card. Many Visa and MasterCard accounts provide primary coverage that complements your existing auto insurance, absolving you from paying any deductibles. Some credit cards even provide comprehensive coverage that replaces your insurance entirely. Using your credit card’s rental insurance can save you money, since you can decline your agency’s optional coverage.

4. Airport lounge access

The best credit cards can make flying glamorous again. Many airline credit cards offer free or discounted access to their partners’ VIP airport lounges, where you can enjoy complimentary beverages, comfortable seats and free wireless internet access. A handful of airline credit cards provide a few free day passes each year for casual travelers, while many premium or signature accounts now include annual club memberships in exchange for higher annual fees.

5. Instant currency conversion

Americans abroad can easily spend hundreds of dollars converting currency during a typical vacation. Tourist kiosks can charge hefty commissions and set unfavorable exchange rates when cashing travelers checks or trading bank notes. Credit cards can eliminate the hassle and the expense of spending money overseas by converting funds at the day’s best market rate. Even with a transaction fee of up to 5%, your credit card can still save you money compared to the typical bureau of change.

6. Presale event and concert tickets

Skip the scalpers the next time you’re looking for the hottest tickets to concerts or sporting events. Credit card sponsorships of major venues and leagues enable lenders to save some of the best seats for their customers. American Express can help you log into Ticketmaster days in advance for some hot shows, while Visa and Discover have called dibs on many big stadium events. If your credit card gives you access to concierge services, you can often purchase VIP tickets unavailable to the general public, even to sold out gigs.

7. Online shopping bonuses

While banks battle over who offers the best cash back credit cards, even basic accounts can access a little-known perk: deep discounts at online retailers. Many issuers allow cardholders to cash in rewards on online shopping purchases, where shoppers can access discounts at their favorite stores. Start your next online shopping session at your bank’s website and you may shave a few extra dollars from the bill.

Every credit card issuer’s terms and conditions vary slightly. Your list of special bonuses probably arrived as a pamphlet that arrived with your credit card. Check that list, or your lender’s website, to learn how you can squeeze the most value from your credit card. 

Curtis Arnold
CardRatings Founder

Curtis founded Cardratings.com in 1998 and, in so doing, helped pioneer the concept of rating credit cards. He has been a nationally recognized expert in consumer credit for well over 20 years. He is the author of “How You Can Profit from Credit Cards: Using...Read more

Featured Partner Cards:


The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.