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When looking for a new credit card, a high annual fee is enough for some to stop reading and click away. But by skipping the fine print, you may be missing out on lucrative credit card perks that can make up for the cost of a high annual fee, often several times over. Today, I’ll show you some of the most lucrative credit card benefits currently available.
Citi Prestige 4th Hotel Night Free
Citi Prestige cardholders who book a hotel stay through a Citi concierge will receive a statement credit for the actual cost of the fourth night, including taxes. While this benefit is changing on July 23 (at which point you’ll receive a rebate equal to the average nightly rate, with taxes excluded), it’s still tremendously valuable. TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig has received almost $10,000 in statement credits from the benefit, or roughly the $450 annual fee rebated 21 times over. Plus, Citi has recently improved the process for receiving your 4th night stay credit.
Citi Prestige 3-Hour Trip/Baggage Delay Coverage
After having a trip delayed by only three hours, or your baggage not arriving to your destination within three hours of your arrival, you’re eligible for up to $500 in expense reimbursement. You also now only have to pay for a portion of your ticket with the Prestige card to qualify. Items eligible for reimbursement include reasonable and necessary expenses incurred during the delay, such as meals, toiletries and lodging. If you accept a voucher for not boarding an overbooked flight, you cannot invoke this benefit.
Airport Lounge Access With Unlimited Guests
Priority Pass lounge network membership is included with several credit cards. What sets a couple cards apart is the ability to bring in unlimited guests with you on a single membership. The Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card allow you to bring as many traveling friends and family as you like into a network lounge. Read individual lounge conditions carefully on the Priority Pass app, as several have time restrictions or reserve the right to limit access due to current capacity.
Another avenue for getting plenty of lounge access for a single annual fee is the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, which includes Admirals Club lounge access. The cardholder can bring in two guests, as well as add up to 10 authorized users for no additional fee — each of whom can also bring in two guest of their own. The $450 annual fee and 10 authorized users would allow 33 people Admirals Club access.
American Express Purchase/Return Protection/Extended Warranty
While almost any credit card with an annual fee now offers some type of purchase and return protection, in my own experience, American Express is among the best thanks to its customer service and easy process for utilizing these benefits.
For return protection, if you try to return an eligible item within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, Amex may refund the full purchase price up to $300 per item with a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year per card account. Items must be in working order and not visibly used or worn, and the entire purchase must have been made with your American Express card. Certain items like computer software, perishable items and jewelry are excluded.
For purchase protection, Amex will protect your eligible purchases against theft, accidental damage or loss for 90 days after the purchase date. For the Platinum Card from American Express, the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, the Gold Card from American Express, the Ameriprise Gold and the Fidelity Gold Card, coverage is limited to $10,000 per occurrence, up to $50,000 per card member account per calendar year. Other Amex cards get up to $1,000 in coverage per occurrence, up to $50,000 per card per calendar year. You must file a claim within 30 days of the item being damaged or stolen and provide a police report if the item is stolen.
The extended warranty benefit provides up to one extra year, added to an original US manufacturer’s warranty of five years or less when you use your card for the entire purchase. Amex matches the warranty length if the original warranty is less than a year, and adds a year if the original warranty is greater than a year. If an item becomes defective within the extended warranty period, you can receive reimbursement of the amount charged to your card, up to $10,000 per occurrence with a maximum benefit of $50,000 per year. Items with physical damage and items that are damaged as a result of a natural disaster are excluded, as well as software, motorized devices and vehicles and their parts.
In 2010, I bought a 55-inch HD Vizio TV from Costco with a two-year manufacturer warranty. One day in 2013, the TV made a popping sound and cut off, never to turn on again. One visit from a TV repairman who gave me an estimate that I sent to American Express, which was all I needed to get the original $1,200 purchase price from three years earlier credited back to my card.
Citi Price Rewind
Register an eligible purchase made with your Citi credit card, and Citi will search for lower prices on the item. If a lower price is found within 60 days of the original purchase date, Citi will issue you a refund of up to $500 per item, with a maximum benefit of $2,500 per year. Not all purchases are eligible (boats, cars, jewelry, tickets and collectibles are excluded) and you need to upload a copy of your original purchase receipt in order to receive an automatic refund. The price comparison must be based only on sale price, not including taxes, shipping and handling, delivery costs, warranties or any other charges.
Card Anniversary Hotel Nights
It makes me cringe when I hear that someone canceled their IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card or Hyatt Credit Card. For only a $49 annual fee on the IHG card, you receive one free night certificate on your card anniversary good at any IHG property anywhere in the world. That includes InterContinental properties that go for hundreds of dollars a night.
For only a $75 annual fee, Hyatt cardholders receive one free night at any Category 1-4 property in the world. Not many Hyatt hotels anywhere go for less than $75 a night. You’re sure to get your annual fee’s value many times over with these single free nights.
United XN Award Space
United co-branded cardholders have access to additional award space, designated by the XN fare class. Over the last three years of having the United MileagePlus Explorer Card, I’ve become a believer in this extra space. I gladly hold on to my card every year to keep access to the space, often searching award flights before I log in to my account and then searching again after logging in to view the valuable extra availability. The extra space has saved me quite a few times, especially when I need a last-minute award flight.
Primary Rental Car Insurance
A handful of credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, offer primary insurance for rental cars. This means if you have a collision or accident, you do not have to even approach your personal car insurance company and the card issuer will take care of the damage (liability not included).
Maybe the most valuable rental car insurance from a credit card is the American Express Premium Car Rental Protection. For a flat fee of $19.95-$24.95 (cheaper in California and Florida), your rental car is covered for up to a 42-day period. Coverage is good worldwide except in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica and New Zealand. The rental car is covered up to $100,000, and I’ve heard several stories from friends and colleagues who’ve had an accident with the coverage, made one phone call to Amex and walked away with no other costs or insurance headaches.
If you’re considering closing a card or looking for a new one, make sure you’ve read through all the fine print of the benefits guide to ensure you aren’t losing or missing out on a potentially lucrative perk.
Which credit card benefits do you find to be the most lucrative?
Featured image courtesy of the Amansara in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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