By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large
Whenever we at Christian Money.com talk about credit cards, it’s typically in terms of the basics: what’s the interest rate, what are the fees, that kind of stuff. Also, we will often discuss credit cards as lines of credit that may or may not help your credit score, depending on how you’re using them.
All of that said, there’s a good reminder out from Consumer Reports that using credit cards for retail purchases, as a matter of course, can provide you with extra benefits, in the form of various purchase protections not typically available from the retailer. They include:
Extended warranties: While they’re typically a bad idea to pay for, all of the major card issuers make them automatically available, as long as what you’re buying already comes with a manufacturer’s warranty.
Cell phone replacement insurance: If you pay your monthly cell bill through your credit card, the issuer will help pay the cost associated with replacing your phone if it’s damaged or stolen (but not if you simply lose it – sorry).
Extended return period: While many retailers have generous return policies, lots of others can be rather stingy that way. American Express and Discover cards automatically offer extended return periods on goods purchased with their cards, subject to some restrictions.
There’s a lot more in consumer benefit “extras” that many cards make available, as well, including missed-connection insurance, which covers the costs associated with getting a hotel room and paying for meals when you miss a connecting flight.
I have a relative who basically pays for everything each month with a credit card, and then pays it all off when he receives the bill. He does this for two reasons: first, he likes the convenience of having to write only one check per month, and also, he likes receiving additional protections for his retail purchases beyond those offered at the store level; in one case, he purchased a big-screen TV that went bad just after the manufacturer’s warranty expired, but was still able to get a replacement because he’d purchased it with his particular credit card.
You might want to take a few minutes to contact your card issuer to see all of what is available in the way of add-ons. If you like what you have, great, but if you think you can do better, check around to see what’s offered from other issuers. Again, don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees here when it comes to what’s really important with respect to credit cards, but, that said, neither should you be oblivious to the extra-special retail benefits offered by so many issuers.