Post 5 – The hidden DNA of credit cards

I’m willing to bet that if you’re like any normal American, you’ve got at least 2-3 credit cards in your wallet right now. I know a couple people who carry 17 and it’s not even a wallet, but a binder!  But the real question is if you know the real value of your credit cards and the special benefits that they have.  In this post you’ll find out about some of the most common benefits credit cards offer and how to see if yours does too.

1. How to choose your best program.
2. Understanding the ins and outs of your program.
3. Earning with program partners and redemption.
4. How to earn apart from flying on planes.
5. The hidden DNA of credit cards.
6. Not all points and miles are the same.
7. Aspirational rewards and good mileage values.
8. Importance of status and elite benefits.
9. Manufactured spend basics
10. Searching for deals. Mistake fares. Mileage runs.
11. HUCA

When you went to your local bank and opened a checking account, I’m sure that they offered you a debit card as a way to easily access the money in your account, make purchases, and simply your life.  I can honestly say that I think the last time that I used a debit card to make a purchase for a product was 2007 (right about when I got started in this miles and points adventure).  I didn’t know any better, and I cringe a little every time I see someone reach for their debit card to make a purchase.  I think I die a little on the inside 🙁

Credit cards carry so many benefits, both stated and hidden deep in the terms and conditions that you threw away (I know you did!) when they sent your new card.  Cards offer purchase protection, price guarantees, insurance protections, and many other benefits.  We’ll talk about a few of them today in detail.

Purchase/Fraud Protection

Call me crazy, but I’ve always believed that a credit card company will go to work harder for their money than for yours.  It’s for that reason that I don’t use my debit card for purchases anymore.  It’s too easy nowadays for people to get your debit card number whether it be from a credit card skimmer to just plain luck.  I’m sure that everyone reading here has been the victim of fraud on their accounts before, and there is no worse feeling that seeing a charge that you don’t recognize as yours or you know is fraud.  When you use your debit card, the money is instantly taken out of your checking account, but when you’re using a credit card, the money is on the credit card account, and you have time to dispute the charge . Remember that one of the many stated benefits of 99% of the cards out there today is Zero liability for fraudulent transactions.

One of the many hidden benefits of credit cards is purchase protection.  Did you know that a lot of credit cards offer extended warranties for each product that you purchase?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred benefits reads as follows:

Extended Warranty Protection extends the time period of the original manufacturer’s written U.S. repair warranty by one (1) additional year on eligible warranties of three (3) years or less, up to a maximum of ten thousand ($10,000.00) dollars per claim, and a fifty thousand ($50,000.00) dollars maximum per Account. To be eligible for coverage, you must charge some portion of the item’s purchase price to your Account or use reward points earned on your Account toward the purchase. This benefit is secondary to any service contract or Extended Warranty you have purchased or received.

Pretty sweet deal, right?  If the manufacturer warranty is for 1 year, you’ve got another year right on top (assuming that you paid for the item with your Sapphire card).

Trip Cancellation and Trip Delay Insurance

Ever had a flight delayed or cancelled by weather and the airline would refuse to pay for your expenses because “Acts of God” are not covered by the airlines?

Never fear, because a lot of airlines are now including Trip Delay insurance as a feature of their cards.  Again, from the terms and conditions of the Sapphire Preferred card:

What is Trip Delay Reimbursement? Trip Delay Reimbursement covers up to a maximum of five hundred ($500.00) dollars for each purchased ticket for reasonable expenses, on a one-time-basis, incurred if your Covered Trip is delayed by a Covered Hazard for more than twelve (12) hours or requires an overnight stay. To be eligible for this coverage, you need to purchase either a portion or the entire cost of your Common Carrier fare using your Account. Coverage is in excess of any expenses paid by any other party, including applicable insurance

So the benefit is either for a more than 12 hour delay OR requires an overnight stay.  I recently took advantage of this benefit when a flight was cancelled out of Atlanta and I had to be put into a hotel for the night.  The airline wasn’t paying, but because I knew about this through the credit card, it was an easy claim to file.

Baggage Delay Insurance

One of the worst feelings is when you’re waiting at the baggage claim area and you see everyone else reaching for their bags, thinking soon that “mine is next… mine is next…” and then, the baggage carousel stops moving.  Your bag is no where to be found.  You head over to the baggage office only to find that your bag is 5 states away, and at best, you’ll get your stuff within a day or two.  Just give them your address and a helpful associate will find you and get your bags to you.  Right… now what are you supposed to do with your vacation?  With no clothes and no supplies?  Enter the credit card to the rescue!

Photo from BAE Automated Systems, Inc.

Photo from BAE Automated Systems, Inc.

Once again, from the terms and conditions of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card:

The Baggage Delay benefit is an insurance plan that provides reimbursement of the emergency purchase of essential items if an Insured Person’s baggage is delayed or misdirected by a Common Carrier for more than six (6) hours while on a Common Carrier Covered Trip. • The plan is automatically provided to you as a Chase Cardholder and your Immediate Family Members at no additional cost to you.

When, on a recent trip to Copenhagen, Ben’s baggage was lost for 3 days. He went out and bought himself an entirely new wardrobe, courtesy of Chase.  British Airways told us that since they knew where the luggage was and they would have it to us the next day, that we weren’t entitled to any benefits.  No problem, our credit card had our back.

Other Various Benefits…

On top of all these other benefits, your credit card might offer Price Protection, Travel Accident Insurance, Car Rental Insurance Coverage and more.  Call your credit card company and get a benefits guide so you can find out about the benefits that are included for you.

In a previous post, we also mentioned the benefits of Visa Signature and MasterCard World Elite.  You can find that post here.


Your credit card could be saving you hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year, and you’re just not taking advantage of the benefits.  I’ve been guilty of ripping open a package and throwing away all the paperwork before too… so don’t feel bad if you didn’t know these things existed before today.

Apart from the points or miles, the foreign transaction fee waivers, balance transfer offers, and other benefits you knew about, there are usually a suite of benefits from both the issuing bank and the provider (Visa/Mastercard/American Express) waiting for you to take advantage of.

So put down your laptop or phone, go get your wallet, and call and ask for them to ship you out a benefits guide today.  You might just learn something!

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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