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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader MC, who learned not to underestimate the benefits on no-fee credit cards:
In November, 2014, I purchased a store-brand tablet, as it was half the cost of its nearest name-brand competitor. After a little over a year, it would no longer turn on; it just stayed blank and nothing would happen. The tablet only had a one-year warranty, and though I wasn’t happy with the short amount of time it had lasted, I figured it was my fault for getting something based on price and not quality. I put it back in its box under my bed and quickly forgot about it.
A few months later, I started to learn about credit card benefits, including extended warranty protection. I dusted off the tablet box and looked at the purchase date, and saw it had been about 22 months. The receipt showed I had used my no-annual-fee Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card, and I was upset at myself for not having used one of my premium cards. I decided to learn about my Cash Rewards card anyway, so I pulled up my benefits guide and, to my great surprise, found that I had extended warranty protection after all.
I contacted Bank of America, and they directed me to Card Benefit Services, who helped me get the claim process started. I needed to provide my receipt, the original written warranty, and a repair estimate. The receipt was no trouble, since I had the physical copy and the retailer had also provided an electronic copy. I was lucky to still have the box with the warranty paperwork inside, though I was able to find a copy of that online as well. The estimate was hardest to get, but I eventually got documentation from the store saying that the tablet was not repairable.
I filed the claim, and after only a few days, I got a check in the mail for $150. It’s not big money, but I know the process now, and I will always use this card to purchase anything that has a warranty. I also learned to not judge a credit card by its annual fee!
Premium credit cards tend to offer the most lucrative benefits, like travel credits, elite status and lounge access. But plenty of cards with no annual fee also boast immensely valuable perks, such as Citi Price Rewind (available on both fee and no-fee cards) and the ability to transfer points to airline and hotel partners (available on the no-annual-fee Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express). Shopping benefits like extended warranty and purchase protection are increasingly widespread, as are basic travel benefits like trip cancellation and interruption protection, so don’t assume your card is lacking just because it doesn’t carry an annual fee.
Conversely, you also shouldn’t assume that a high-end card has every benefit you need. For example, many cards offer secondary collision damage waiver policies to cover rental cars, but only a handful offer primary coverage. In the same vein, Chase cut price protection from many of its cards last year, and you can still find rewards cards that charge foreign transaction fees despite also having an annual fee. In short, it’s worth taking the time to get well acquainted with your own card benefits; that way you can make the most of the ones you already have, and recognize the gaps in your coverage so you can find other cards to fill them.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending MC a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to firstname.lastname@example.org; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes, or to contribute to our new award redemption series. If your story is published, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Featured photo by Emilija Manevska / Getty.
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