Editorial Policy

9 Credit Card Deals You Never Knew You Had

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By Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D.
May 22, 2009

Most people think of credit card deals as a new credit card with a long-term 0% APR transfer offer. However, credit cards come with many other benefits, which you might not even be aware of. These benefits offer great convenience, and in some cases, can add up to real savings, making them not just great credit card deals, but real steals.

True story: Junior gets an iTouch from Santa for Christmas. Junior and his new toy are inseparable-from audio jokes to a piano keyboard to downloaded files of annoying noises just to exasperate Mom – this little wonder can do it all. Junior and his new friend are so inseparable, in fact, that wherever Junior goes, the iTouch goes too.

That includes the bathroom, and of course, it’s only a matter of time before an iTouch perched on top of a toilet tank drops into the bowl. And so, barely ten days after Christmas, Junior suffers the first traumatic loss of his so far short life. Junior is heartbroken. And Santa isn’t happy either.

Then Santa remembers that he charged the iTouch to his Platinum credit card, which comes with purchase protection, i.e., insurance on all purchases charged to the card. Since the iTouch was damaged within the first ninety days of purchase, the card issuer agrees to pick up the tab. So Santa can replace the iTouch for free. Now Santa is happy. And so is Junior, but he is too busy playing with his virtual kitten to take notice.

Purchase protection is most commonly available on premium cards, such as American Express credit cards, Visa Signature credit cards, and certain other types of Visa credit cards, such as many Visa business credit cards. The terms of the service vary somewhat, but typically purchases are protected against theft or damage, including “accidentally discharged water,” for the first 90 days from the date of purchase.

The purchase protection plan promises-at the provider’s discretion-to replace, repair, or reimburse you for eligible items. So what exactly does “at the provider’s discretion” mean? It means that you better have a good explanation and documentation in place when requesting the service. If your item “mysteriously disappeared,” don’t expect your card issuer to pick up the tab. However, if the item was stolen from your car and you have a police report to back up your claim, your card issuer is likely to agree to cover the loss.

American Express cards offer protection up to $1,000 per claim, Visa Signature credit cards up to $500 per claim. Both cap the claims per cardholder at $50,000. You must have charged the entire purchase to your Amex or Visa credit card for the purchase to be eligible for coverage. Other restrictions apply and the configuration of benefits varies from card to card, so contact your card issuer to get the specific terms and conditions for your credit cards.