Credit Card Expert Roundup #38 - What's your favorite 'hidden' credit card feature that very few people seem to know about?
When we talk about credit card benefits or features, the conversation generally always centers around their rewards programs or sign-up bonuses. But, there are several other extremely useful benefits that are less talked about. This week, Jason touches on under the radar benefits with a group of Credit Card Experts:
What's your favorite 'hidden' credit card feature that very few people seem to know about?
Matt Schulz - Chief Industry Analyst at CompareCards.com
For the most part, credit card companies do a great job of hiding the fact that you can often change your terms just by picking up the phone and asking. APR too high? Call and ask to have it lowered. Late with a payment? Pick up the phone and ask them to waive the late fee. Want a higher credit limit? Give them a ring and request one. It's stunning how often that works.
More than 80 percent of those who asked for a lower APR last year got one, according to a CompareCards.com survey, but only one in five cardholders asked. The numbers are similar when it comes to requesting other breaks like fee waivers and credit limit boosts. All of this means that people are likely paying their credit card issuers more than they need to.
People have way more power with their credit card companies than they realize. They just have to be willing to wield it. If they do, it can end up saving them real money.
Holly Johnson - Financial expert and award-winning writer who blogs about money and travel at ClubThrifty.com
My favorite hidden credit card feature is trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and specifically the coverage offered through premier Chase travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. This coverage kicks in when a trip is delayed or cancelled for a covered reason, although you do have to pay for your travel expenses with your card to qualify. My husband and I had to tap into our Chase Sapphire Reserve trip cancellation/coverage a few years ago when we were stranded in Jamaica for a few days after our original departure date due to snowstorms in the U.S. We had to pay for two more nights at our pricey all-inclusive resort as well as food at the airport, but our Chase coverage ultimately reimbursed us for all out-of-pocket expenses within 60 days or so. A lot of people don't know about this coverage - or they assume it doesn't work. But I found out firsthand that Chase does live up to its promises when it comes to their travel insurance benefits.
I did have to supply Chase with proof of the purpose of the delay, which I was able to receive from the airline once I arrived home. I also had to submit receipts for our airline meals. Ultimately though, the process was mostly hassle-free and well worth the trouble.
Ed Pizzarello - Business traveler who oversees a venture capital portfolio of companies located around the United States
United Airlines is one of the most valuable transfer partners in the travel world. It might surprise some to understand that their value isn't really in their own network. United does have plenty of hubs across the United States, including Denver, Houston, Chicago, San Francisco and Newark. They can get you many places in the US, though finding the most affordable saver awards can be tough. The true value in United Airlines as a transfer partner is the Star Alliance. With airlines like Lufthansa, ANA, Austrian Airlines, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines you can truly get just about anywhere in the world. Unlike the oneworld alliance where a number of partners don't have their inventory available on the American Airlines website, United's website can book awards for virtually all of the Star Alliance flights available. The website also easily combines airlines to create even more itineraries.
Choice is the name of the game with United Airlines and the Star Alliance. Since you can price virtually all awards in a one-way fashion you have tremendous amount of flexibility. On a recent family trip to Europe, we used United, Lufthansa and TAP Portugal and had backup flight options on Austrian Airlines. All of these flights were using saver inventory, meaning we could stretch our miles that much further. Not all credit card transfer partners are created equally. With fabulous Star Alliance connections and a functioning website to easily book, United Airlines is truly a leader when it comes to booking awards.
Andy Shuman - Travel/credit expert and an author of the Amazon bestselling Lazy Traveler's Handbook series
Maybe not exactly favorite because I hope to never have to use it, but should the fate strike away from home, an Emergency Evacuation insurance benefit can save you tens of thousands of dollars or even more. This benefit is offered by several (mostly) ultra-premium credit cards, like Amex Platinum, Amex Hilton Aspire, City Prestige, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase United Club and, surprisingly a “cheap” BoA Virgin Atlantic card.
Every issuer defines the benefit differently, so you need to dig into the T&C to make sure you understand what it will or won’t do for you. Some have coverage caps; some have a preexisting condition clause; some want you to use their credit card for travel, while others do not. And none of the above-mentioned issuers define the benefit as bringing you back home (only to the nearest quality medical facility). However, some first-hand accounts suggest this is what Amex has done in the past. Too bad most people have no idea it’s there in case they need it.
Jason Steele - Journalist who specializes in covering credit cards, award travel, and other areas of personal finance.
I like the United MileagePlus Explorer card from Chase, as it offers one fantastic hidden feature. When you’re a cardholder, you will receive much greater access to economy class awards on United at the saver level. And while I’m not a big fan of flying United in economy class, this is often the critical link that allows me to book an international itinerary on one of United’s Star Alliance partners. I find it amazing that United and Chase don’t really advertise this feature.
Dia Adams - Blogs at TravelingMom.com
The credit card perk I used most recently was roadside assistance via my Chase Sapphire Reserve. My fifteen year old son ran down my car battery by charging his phone while I finished up his sister's doctor appointment. Thanks to roadside assistance, 37 minutes and $0 later I had a jump start and was on my way.
Shawn Coomer - Founder and Managing Editor of Miles to Memories
While a lot of people like to talk about the popular Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program, Chase has a somewhat lesser known competitor called The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection. This benefit of select Chase cards works at over 900 high-end properties where cardmembers get free breakfast for two, early check-in and late check-out based on availability, a room upgrade, a unique benefit at each property and more.
Sometimes both the Chase and Amex programs overlap, however other times Chase offers better benefits. I have found this to be the case in Vegas for example where some hotels give an amazing $100 credit towards food and beverage in addition to all of the other perks.
Hotel programs like these are often overlooked benefits and can provide tremendous added value. In my experience sometimes the value of breakfast, upgrades and property credits exceeds the actual rate I pay for the room. These programs aren't often advertised but many popular cards have some version that is worth checking out.