The American credit industry is a free-market lover’s golden child. The intense competition has led to insane benefits.
Of course you know how easy it is to get free flights out of this system. And for most of us, the buck stops there. But if you’re willing to do the paperwork and read the fine print, so many other benefits can be yours! To me, the thread running through all of these is the entitlement initially used in advertising that has insidiously worked its way into the culture.
Other wildly undeserved yet available credit card benefits:
- Price Protection
Ridiculous. If you buy something and see it advertised cheaper elsewhere, you tell the credit card company and they credit you the difference. WTF?! Wow. I guess they can offer this because they know most people are too lazy to actually file the paperwork. And they are apparently making money hand-over-fist in this whole credit card game.
- Purchase Security
Also absurd. Anything you buy with the card that gets damaged, stolen or vandalized within 90 days of purchase will be reimbursed by the credit card company – up to $1,000 per item and $50,000 per customer. Say what?!
- Return Protection
Also soooo American. It’s already pretty unique on a worldwide scale that if you don’t like something you buy, you can take it back. That just isn’t reality in so many places – even if the thing you buy actually has a defect. It’s a huge privilege to live in a place where you can just change your mind and the store will happily return your money. U.S. citizens can be a bit taken aback when they go abroad and find that the customer isn’t always number one in other cultures. A friend in Europe has regaled me with tales of (what to us seems like) shockingly poor and unfair customer service. With “Return Protection” the credit card is basically guaranteeing what many have come to see as fundamental American right – if the store won’t take it back, the credit card company will! If, within 90 days, you are unsatisfied with your purchase and the retailer won’t give you your money back, the credit card company will. $500 per claim, and $1,000 max per customer. Jaw. Drop.
- Extended Warranty
Buy something that has a warranty, they’ll tack on an extra year. Here’s one where they get a bit more realistic. There’s a long list of stuff that doesn’t count, starting with the first items you’d think of – cars.
- Auto Insurance for Rental Cars
This is now a pretty standard credit card benefit, but still a little surprising if you really think about it. “Use our card to rent your car, and we’ll take responsibility for any damage that happens.” I’m oversimplifying, but the fact that this concept is even on the table demonstrates what a huge pile of cash the industry has at its disposal.
- Preferred Amenities
This one isn’t so surprising. You have our special plastic, our friends (slew of hotel partners) will be nice to you and give you upgrades and benefits you’d otherwise have to pay for.
- Baggage Delay Reimbursement at $100 a day
Again – wild thing for a card to provide. You go on a trip. Your bag doesn’t show up. You know – the bag with the shirts and pants and dresses and shoes you intended to wear. The wedding/meeting/etc. is tomorrow, so you have to go buy new clothes. Do it with your credit card, and they’ll reimburse you. Really! If you’re on a bigger trip, having this through your credit card might allow you to save on travel insurance. #winning.
- Trip Cancellation Insurance
Same deal – book with your card and if your tour operator goes bankrupt, you get sick, your partner gets sick, or someone dies, they will reimburse you! Although, if this allows you to get less-scammed by travel insurance, awesome.
I’m not saying I think these benefits are bad. Not at all. They are amazing! But my soap-box topic is the free flights. Please, for the love of travel, get onboard with the awesome ridiculousness of free flights. You don’t even have to use them for yourself. You can “pay” for your family and friends to come see you, if that’s what you want. Or give them the gift of a ticket to the place of their dreams! Or finally go see New York City or Chicago or San Francisco. You’ve got five seconds to decide to make your life better. Go!
Happy Traveling! ♣
Disclaimer about the lack of disclaimer: I get nothing – zero – for encouraging you to get on the free-flight bandwagon. It’s incredibly difficult to get the big credit card companies to give you a cut of their profits in return for sending business their way. (That’s one way bloggers make money, but not the only way. See how it works on Half the Clothes, if you’re curious). I did apply, since I’m spreading the gospel of free-flights anyway. But until I pay thousands of dollars to have someone make this site super beautiful and go from thousands of visitors to hundreds of thousands, I will never get a dime for being your help-yourself-now cheerleader. True-blue altruist, for better and for worse!