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What are credit card benefits and how to use them

When you think of credit card benefits, rewards and travel perks usually come to mind. But there are plenty of other advantages cards offer these days, from fraud protection to getting you access to the latest hot club or restaurant.

So, when you shop for a credit card, think about what kind of benefits you would most value and fit your lifestyle:

What are credit card benefits?

Here are some not-so-obvious benefits you can look out for:

Travel insurance 

Besides points for flights and hotels, many travel cards also offer travel insurance for flight cancellations, collision damage for rental cars and help abroad for emergency care. Be sure to check your cardmember agreement to find out if you're eligible for travel insurance and the standard practices for redeeming protections.

Travel upgrades

Some travel credit cards also offer hotel room and flight upgrades, complimentary in-flight meals and hotel breakfasts, as well as free checked bags and yearly travel credit. In order to take advantage of travel upgrades, keep an eye out for loyalty programs you can participate in and look for opportunities to use reward points, miles or cash back points for upgrades.

Theft and damage

Some credit cards offer certain purchase protection against theft and damage. For example, if you purchased a laptop but don't have insurance through the retailer, you might be able to get reimbursement from your credit card issuer. Contact your credit card company to learn more about eligibility requirements and information on how to file a claim.

No annual fees

Some low-maintenance credit cards waive a credit card annual fee. These cards usually don't offer intricate reward programs and are great for those who don't travel often or want to pay a higher APR on cards that offer points for certain purchases, like groceries or gas.

Fraud protection

Some cards offer great fraud protection, enabling you to dispute or report unauthorized purchases. Contact your bank or credit card company to find out more about the fraud protection features available to you and what you should know when reporting suspicious and/or unauthorized activity.

Price protection

Some cards might reimburse you the difference between what you paid for an item and the discounted price that it's now selling for. You can learn more about price protection offerings by contacting your credit card company or reading your cardmember agreement.

Return protection

Return protection can come in handy if your return window has passed or the retailer doesn't offer reimbursement. There may be exclusions and limitations depending on your credit card issuer's policy.

Which credit card is best for me?

When signing up for a credit card, be sure to look over the credit card's benefit offerings to learn about the perks and features available to you. There are so many variations out there, that you're bound to find the card that's made for your lifestyle.