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The top 10 credit card perks

Your credit card may be good for more than you realize. Here are some benefits that cardholders may be eligible to receive before ever making a single transaction.

By Aug 14, 2013 12:24PM

This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site logoReward credit cards are a great way to earn points, miles or cash back from your spending, but they have one fatal flaw: Cardholders earn these rewards in proportion to what they spend, and that can encourage people to overspend and go into debt.

Credit card © Fancy, Veer, Corbis, CorbisYet there is another credit card feature that often goes unnoticed: cardholder benefits. These are perks that all cardholders receive before ever making a single transaction.

Here are the top ten credit card perks out there.

1. Business lounge access
Plenty of credit cards offer some sort of airport business lounge membership ranging from two free visits and a discount, to unlimited access to multiple airline clubs.

The most generous card: The American Express Platinum card offers cardholders unlimited access to the clubs of the Delta, US Airways, American, and the Lounge Club network. Purchased individually, these memberships would cost well over $1,000.

2. Cellphone protection
At a time when the latest phones cost hundreds of dollars, and carriers charge hundreds more for insurance plans, it is great when your credit card covers theft or damage of a cellphone.

The most generous card: Wells Fargo offers a cellular telephone protection plan on most of its credit cards that features $600 of protection against damage or theft, with a $25 deductible.

3. Companion ticket
Some credit cards offer customers a companion certificate that can be used as a two-for-one coupon on any paid fare. The second person pays only a small amount in taxes.

The most generous card: The Delta SkyMiles Reserve card from American Express offers a domestic economy or first-class companion certificate each year upon renewal.

4. Primary rental car insurance
Most credit cards offer rental care insurance, but it is secondary so it kicks in only after a claim has been filed against your personal policy. Primary coverage protects you and your insurance company.

The most generous card: The United MileagePlus Explorer from Chase is one of a few cards that offer primary coverage at home and abroad. Others include the Chase Ink Bold MasterCard and the Fairmont Visa.

5. Concierge service
These services will help you purchase tickets to entertainment and sporting events, get directions, make travel and restaurant reservations, and just about any other task someone can do for you over the phone.

The most generous card: The American Express Platinum card is generally thought of as having the premier concierge service.

6. Priority service at the airport
Airline credit cards can offer card holders the ability to skip lines at the airport.

The most generous card: The United Mileage Plus Club card from Chase offers all cardholders priority check-in, security screening, boarding and baggage handling privileges. These are virtually all the benefits of a first class ticket, aside from the larger seat.

7. Free checked bags
Bag fees might help airlines become profitable, but they can be a major expense to travelers.

The most generous card: The Citi Executive/AAdvantage card from American Airlines offers one free bag for the cardholder and up to eight companions. The United Mileage Plus Club card from Chase offers two free bags for the cardholder and one companion.
8. Hotel status
Having elite status in a hotel program can mean a quick check-in, a late check out, free Internet service, and more.

The most generous card: The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card offers immediate gold status which even includes free breakfast for two.

9. Airline and travel fee credits
While some airline credit cards waive bag fees with a single airline, other cards will reimburse cardholders for change fees, seat fees and in-flight meals on any carrier.
The most generous card: The American Express Platinum card and the Ritz-Carlson card from Chase both offer $200 annual airline fee credits, but the Platinum card will also reimburse cardholders for the $100 application fee for the Global Entry program operated by the United States Customs and Border Patrol.

10. Purchase protection
Credit cards can offer return protection, extended warranty coverage and reimburse cardholders if their goods are stolen or damaged.

The most generous card: Most Citi cards include retail purchase protection, extended warranty coverage and Citi's Price Rewind service, which refunds the difference (up to $250) when a charged item drops in price by at least $25.

More from
Aug 14, 2013 1:19PM
....illusions, promises, lures and traps: the definition of credit
Aug 17, 2013 9:23AM
The only thing a a credit card will get you is TROUBLE.
Don't be naive, there's always a catch when they say "FREE".
The debtor is a slave to the lender.

Aug 17, 2013 2:44PM
There's really little to no benefit of a store card, even though they may try to say that access to "special savings and promotions" means so much. You can get all of this online in most cases. Today, credit cards and rewards programs are stingy. I gave up when I spent over $1,500 in one month and my "reward" was a whopping $5 credit towards something. Big deal. I paid the card off as I always do and now rarely use it. They've called to ask why and I've told them. YOUR PROGRAMS STINK.
Aug 17, 2013 8:40PM
I used my AMEX PLATIUM card to pay the bills at my business to the tune of about 10,000  to 15,000 a month. I racked up huge points and enjoyed the free airline tickets,free hotel rooms and AMEX gift cards I got all the time. If used right credit card perks can be a great thing.
Aug 17, 2013 10:13PM
What about the freedom of privacy everyone is crying about. Owning any credit card cancels any freedom you would wish for.
Aug 14, 2013 2:49PM
Perks #6,7 & 8 can be obtained WITHOUT a credit card.  If you're a member of an airlines frequent flyer club, you can go thru the express lanes at the airport as well as not paying for checked bags.  If you're a Gold or Diamond with Hilton Honors, you get these perks as well.
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