Credit cards are good for more than just making purchases and racking up rewards points. Many come with additional benefits to help protect your purchases and save you money.
However, many of these perks go unused because cardholders don't know they exist. Here's a look at six of the most valuable credit card perks you may not know you have.
1. Purchase protection
If your recently purchased items are damaged or stolen, your credit card issuer may refund you the cost of the items. You must have a receipt and your credit card statement showing that you made the purchase with that card. This protection usually only applies to items purchased within the last three to four months, and if you have another form of insurance that might cover the item, contact them first. So, for example, if the item was stolen from your home, you'd first file a homeowners insurance claim for the item. If they turn you down for some reason, then you can try reaching out to your credit card issuer.
2. Price matching
If you purchase an item that later goes down in price, some card issuers may refund you the difference. Again, you will need the receipt and credit card statement proving what you spent, and this perk only applies to items that were bought within the last couple of months. There may also be certain items that don't qualify for this benefit, like rare items or items listed as "buy one, get one free," and limitations on the amount of money the company will refund you for a price match, both per item and per year.
3. Return protection
Certain stores may not allow you to return items, but your credit card may still refund you anyway. The item must be purchased within the last two to three months, and there's usually a limit as to how much the company will refund you for the items -- typically $500 or less. There may also be certain items that don't qualify for return protection, like gift cards or motor vehicles.
4. Cell phone protection
Replacing a cellphone can be costly, especially if you own a smartphone. An increasing number of credit cards are offering cellphone protection, which will pay up to $600, in some cases, to replace your broken or stolen cellphone. You may be required to pay a small deductible -- $25 or less -- in order to take advantage of this benefit. It's also worth noting that you will only receive enough to pay for an identical phone to the one that was damaged or a comparable replacement phone, so you may not get the full benefit unless your phone is particularly expensive.
5. ID theft restoration assistance
All credit cards protect you against fraudulent purchases made in your name, but some credit card issuers take this a step further and offer identity theft resolution services to their customers. In rare cases, the company may provide an identity resolution specialist that does all of the work for you, but more commonly, you'll get access to a hotline through which you can get information on what your next steps should be and how to notify the credit bureaus of the situation. This helps save you money as well as time, because you don't need to pay a third party to help you.
6. Travel protection
Frequent travelers will want to look out for a credit card that offers rental car and travel insurance. Rental car insurance pays for the damages to any rental vehicle that you were driving, while travel insurance covers things like lost and delayed baggage, trip cancellation, and trip delays. If you purchased separate rental car insurance or travel insurance, first file a claim with these companies and then turn to your credit card issuer for any extra that was not covered.
Use it or lose it
Before you apply for a new credit card, take the time to read through its cardholder agreement carefully. It's not a bad idea to look back at the agreements for the cards you already own too. See what perks they offer, and make sure to read the fine print so you understand when and how you can use them.