4 unique card benefits that saved me money during the pandemic
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
The ongoing pandemic has changed how I use my credit cards drastically. Instead of travel perks, right now, I care more about perks that are enhancing my life while I'm staying closer to home. Those include the many temporary credit card perks -- from grocery bonuses to dining credits -- that issuers are offering as a result of COVID-19.
These benefits are, of course, excellent ways to make the most of your everyday spending. In particular, I have taken advantage of the grocery bonus on several cards. However, there are still other powerful perks in the fine print of credit card agreements, too.
Today, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite under-the-radar benefits on cards that have helped me during the pandemic.
1. Cell phone protection
A perk on my Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Instead of paying extra for smartphone insurance from a mobile provider, some credit card holders are already covered if their devices are damaged or stolen. For example, the Ink Business Preferred that I carry covers the cost of replacing a customer's phone up to $1,000 per claim for up to three claims in a 12-month period (subject to a $100 deductible per claim). Other cards have similar coverage, such as the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card. The coverage can create a valuable savings opportunity; buying a policy like Applecare+ for an iPhone can cost around $200.
Related reading: Best cards for cell phone protection
The Wells Fargo Propel card is no longer available for new applicants. The information for this card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer.
2. Reminder about free trials ending
A perk for all Visa and Mastercards
I've lost count at how many subscriptions that I've signed up for while at home during the pandemic. If you hate being billed at the end of a free trial period -- just because you forgot to set a reminder to cancel -- you'll appreciate this perk.
Both Visa and Mastercard have instituted rules that merchants must abide by when it comes to billing cardholders after a free trial promotion. For instance, Visa's rule as of April 2020 says that merchants must send a reminder notification -- such as an email or text -- at least seven days before initiating a recurring transaction after a trial, introductory offer or promotional period is about to expire. In addition, each payment after the trial must include a receipt with instructions for canceling if you decide to do so.
Related reading: Best cards for streaming services
3. Instant card number
A perk for my recently approved American Express® Green Card. The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
While this perk didn't save me money immediately, it will help me earn a welcome bonus faster. If you've ever been approved for a credit card and wanted to use it towards a big purchase right away, many issuers have simply said "tough luck." Since so many purchases are happening digitally -- especially now during the pandemic -- I appreciate that most American Express card members can immediately start using their new cards digitally once an application is approved.
On the flip side, another recent card that I was approved for, a Chase-issued the World of Hyatt Credit Card, took a full seven business days to arrive in the mail. While I was given the option to add the card to my digital Apple Wallet, Chase does not typically offer you the ability to instantly use the card number.
Related reading: Credit cards that offer instant card numbers upon approval
4. Amex and Chase offers
A perk on all of my Amex and Chase cards
Last but certainly not least, Amex and Chase offers have been incredibly helpful not just during the pandemic, but during times of normalcy too. These offers can help offset the cost of card annual fees since they're available for shopping that I would already do anyway.
All American Express cards, including ones that I have, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, come with access to Amex Offers. The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
You’ll see all the Amex Offers available to you if you scroll down to “Amex Offers & Benefits” in your online account page or click on the “Offers” tab on the Amex app. Typically, these are bonus Membership Rewards points or cash back promotions for spending a minimum amount with a specific retailer. On my American Express® Gold Card, I've saved more than $130 just by clicking to activate the offers prior to shopping.
Chase has something similar with its Chase Offers program. However, I find Chase's program to be less lucrative overall since there are fewer retailer options, and offers are generally not as highly discounted.
Pay close attention to all card benefits
For new cardholders searching for the best credit card, it's easy to just focus on the promotional headline that highlights massive sign-up bonuses or opportunities to fly premium cabins. These four under-the-radar perks might not immediately catch your attention, but they still matter -- especially once you're in the trenches as a cardholder.
While these benefits are personally relevant to my own needs, this just serves as a reminder to take a closer look at the card you have -- or one that you are considering signing up for. Beyond the huge welcome bonus or generous category bonus, what else is the card offering you? Are you missing out on benefits that you didn't even know you had?
Related reading: Credit cards that offer free shipping
No matter what cards you have in your wallet, it's important to comb through the terms and conditions to understand other perks that may be available to you simply for being a customer. From keeping you covered when you're driving a rental car to paying you extra points for staying in shape, many credit cards come with some extra reasons to swipe, or even simply have in the sock drawer.
Additional reporting by David McMillin.