The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Friday, December 2, 2022

20 Things You Didn’t Know Your Credit Card Could Do

20 Things You Didnt Know Your Credit Card Could Do

credit card advice

Erica Sandberg

Written by: Erica Sandberg

Erica Sandberg

Erica Sandberg is a consumer finance expert and journalist whose articles and insights are featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, MarketWatch, Forbes, and MSN Money. An experienced media host, she's led many financial programs, including her podcast, "Adventures With Money." She's appeared on Fox, CNN, "EconTalk" and "The Dr. Drew Podcast," and has been the resident money and credit authority for KRON-4 News in San Francisco for more than 10 years. Her book "Expecting Money: The Essential Financial Plan for New and Growing Families" was first released in 2008, and the 2017 edition is out now.

See full bio »

Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida. Today, she edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Reviewed by: Ashley Dull

Ashley Dull

With more than a decade of experience as a content manager and marketer, Ashley has specialized in finance coverage since 2015. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media campaigns. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among others.

See full bio »
Advertiser Disclosure

The most basic function of a credit card is that it allows you to purchase things using the issuer’s funds. Each time you charge, you borrow the amount of that purchase. 

At the end of the month, you’ll get the bill for everything you bought and are given the option to pay in any increment above the minimum amount due.

Your credit card can do plenty of other things for you, too. Depending on the card, yours may entitle you to all or some of the following perks. 

1. Pay You For Your Spending

A large number of credit cards come with a rewards program that allows you to earn cash back, points, or miles every time you use the card to purchase something. As long as you pay the balance in full so no interest is added to your debt, you will earn money each time you use the card for transactions. 

For example, If you charged a total of $1,800 in a year and earned 2% cash back, your profit would be $360. 

2. Help You Build Credit

Every major credit card issuer will send information about your card account to the three major credit bureaus — TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Just pay your bill on time and in full every month, and you will be on your way to building a positive credit history.

How to Build Credit With a Credit Card Graphic

How do you get credit when you have never used it before? You can start with an account made specifically for credit development, such as the Discover it® Secured Credit Card.  

3. Give You a Free Credit Score

As a consumer, you are entitled to three free credit reports once every year, but credit scores are a product that you typically have to purchase. Some credit card issuers will provide you with a free credit score, though, and you may not even have to be a cardholder. 

For example, Chase Bank offers Chase Credit Journey that will give you a free credit score – the VantageScore 3.0 model based on your Experian credit report — with no Chase account needed. 

4. Provide a Bonus Just to Get the Card

You may also get a bulk of rewards, known as a signup bonus, when you open the account. To get the signup bonus, you must charge a certain amount to your card within a specified period. Typically, the higher the minimum spending requirement, the larger the bonus. 

How to Earn a Credit Card Signup Bonus Graphic

For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express usually offers 100,000 points (worth roughly $2,000) or more if you spend $6,000 in the first six months of opening the card. The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, on the other hand, may give you $200 after spending $500 in the first three months. 

5. Award Cash for Referring Friends

Yet another way to earn a book of rewards is to refer friends to a credit card offered by your issuer. When you send a promotional link to them they can apply for the card, and if they are accepted, you will earn rewards.

For example, with the Chase Freedom Flex℠, you may be able to earn $100 cash back for each successful referral. The reward is capped at $500 per year.

6. Charge No Financing Fees on Purchases and/or Balance Transfers

Under normal circumstances, card issuers apply finance fees to any balance you roll over from one month to the next. But if your card offers a 0% APR promotion, you won’t be charged any interest on the debt for a specific period. The 0% rate may be for purchases, balance transfers, or both, depending on the card.

Potential Balance Transfer Savings Graphic

Cards with 0% balance transfer deals can really help you save a lot of cash, as illustrated above.

7. Offer Special Concierge Services 

A few cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, come with personal assistance. Depending on the program, the concierges can do everything from arrange travel, purchase gifts, book tickets to events, and get you into the most exclusive restaurants. Some can help you out of a jam, too, by rebooking canceled or delayed flights and tracking down lost luggage.  

8. Free Hotel Accommodations

If your credit card is associated with a hotel chain, your card may entitle you to a free night’s stay every year or after a certain number of nights at the hotel. For example, if you have a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, you will get a free night’s stay every year after your account anniversary.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Review

at the issuer’ssecure website

TRAVEL RATING

★★★★★

4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 6X Points on hotels for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3X Points at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X Points for each dollar on everything else.
  • You will receive complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card
  • Enjoy up to $300 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your card account anniversary. The award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel.
  • With your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, book direct using a special rate for a 2-night minimum stay at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® and get up to $100 in credit for qualifying charges.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.74% – 27.74% (Variable)
$450
Excellent

This perk will either extend your vacation or reduce the price of it! 

9. Assistance at the Airport

If you are a frequent traveler, it pays to look for a credit card that offers cardholders free or discounted membership into programs that will help you move through the airport with ease. Some cards give a discount on CLEAR®, which bumps you to the front of the security line.

Other cards reimburse the cost of TSA PreCheck®, which offers fast security screening benefits for domestic flights, or Global Entry, which can help you through US customs when reentering the United States from international destinations. 

10. Provide Free Food and Beverages

Whether at the airport or in a hotel, your credit card may also provide you with a credit for food and beverages. Look for a card that comes with a Priority Pass membership, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Review

at Chase’ssecure website

TRAVEL RATING

★★★★★

4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
20.74% – 27.74% Variable
$550
Good/Excellent

This card provides dining credits at over 50 airport restaurants. 

11. Pay Rewards & Credits For Streaming Subscriptions

Chances are you’re paying for movies, shows, or music via any of the popular streaming services. So why not get extra rewards for it? Several cards pay cash back when you use your card to pay your monthly streaming service subscription, and a few others even pay credits to reimburse part or all of the cost. 

For example, The Platinum Card pays $20 each month toward select digital entertainment providers, including Disney+, Hulu, and SiriusXM, among others.

12. Pay Rewards & Credits For Ride-Hailing Services 

If you regularly use ride-hailing companies to get around, but it’s blowing your budget, your credit card can help ease the pain.

Woman Hailing a Cab
Some cards pay rewards for services such as Uber and Lyft and provide credits to help offset these costs.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card will give you 10x the points on Lyft purchases through 2025 plus annual travel credits that can offset your Uber or Lyft costs.

13. Provide Cellphone Protection For Loss and Damage

Chances are you carry around a particularly expensive and important item: your cellphone. If your credit card offers cellphone protection, you may be able to make a claim if it’s lost, stolen, or damaged. This insurance can save you a lot of money even if there is a deductible — usually starting at $50 — before the insurance pays for the replacement expense.

14. Pay For Your Checked Bags

You can either bring your bags on the plane to stash in the overhead compartment or check them. If you get the lowest price airfare, you may have to pay for either of these choices. But if you use a credit card that covers the cost of checked bags, you can save the $35 or so the airline will charge for each bag. 

Checked Luggage
Some co-branded airline cards will reimburse the cost of any luggage you check in when you use the card to pay for the fees.

But if you pay for your United Airlines flight with your United MilagePlus Card, for example, you’ll get free checked bags even when you purchase the most basic fare (where you would still have to pay for carry-on bags). 

15. Extend Your Purchase Protection Window

Retailers typically give you a certain amount of time to return a purchase and not lose any money. It could be 60 days or fewer. Your credit card, however, can extend that time frame. 

For example, many Chase credit cards give you purchase protection that replaces, repairs, or reimburses eligible items that are damaged, lost, or stolen during the 120 days following the date of purchase.

16. Reimburse You For Trip Delays

One of the facts of modern travel is that flying isn’t as glamorous as it once was. Nor is it as seamless. If your flight is canceled or delayed, you could be stuck at the airport or have to pay for accommodations with your own money. 

Man Waiting an Airport
Some cards can reimburse the costs associated with trip delays, such as meals and overnight hotel stays.

Your credit card can come to the rescue if it comes with travel insurance. Depending on the insurance, you may be reimbursed for any costs associated with the delay, from meals at the airport to hotel accommodations.

17. Allow You to Board Flights Early

Don’t want to wait to board your flight because you’re worried there won’t be enough space in the overhead compartment for your bags? Or maybe you just want to settle in before most of the other passengers do. Several cards associated or co-branded with airlines offer preboarding privileges. 

18. Provide Access to Airport Lounges

If you are stuck at the airport for any length of time, you will appreciate the comfort available at airport lounges. Some credit cards give you access to these lounges. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, for example, grants you and two of your travel companions (and immediate family members) entry into the Admirals Club. 

TRAVEL RATING

★★★★★

4.5

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 80,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you and access for up to two guests or immediate family members traveling with you
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • For a limited time, earn a total of 4 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases through December 31, 2022. After that, earn 2 miles per $1 on eligible American Airlines purchases.
  • Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.74% – 28.74% (Variable)
$450
Excellent, Good

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

The Platinum Card® provides unlimited access to The Global Lounge Collection, including 1,400 airport lounges across 650 cities. 

19. Give You Free Flight, Room & Car Rental Upgrades

Many travel cards, especially those co-branded with an airline or hotel chain, provide valuable upgrades, such as preferred seating on your flight or a better room at check-in. If your credit card has a relationship with a car rental company, you may be entitled to a vehicle a step or two above the economy option without paying extra for luxury. 

20. Visit Museums For Free

Always check out the different promotions available from your credit card issuer, as some are especially valuable. For example, Bank of America cardholders can enjoy the company’s Museums on Us program. 

Bank of America Website
Bank of America cardholders can enjoy free admission to select museums on the first full weekend of each month.

During the first full weekend of every month, BoA offers cardholders one free general admission ticket to more than 225 cultural institutions across the US, and the savings can be substantial. After all, an adult ticket to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City will set you back $30.

The Bottom Line on Credit Card Perks

Credit cards can do much more than help you make safe and convenient transactions. You may benefit from numerous perks depending on the card and the issuer. The more you know about what your account offers, the better you can take advantage of its features and programs. 

Issuers are always updating their offerings, so it’s a good idea to regularly visit the credit card company’s website or use the app to see what you are entitled to! 

Advertiser Disclosure

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