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The novel coronavirus has many people reconsidering which credit card they use to make purchases. Which credit cards earn the most rewards, while important, may not be a top priority. Instead, you might focus on purchase protection card benefits.
For instance, your credit card may reimburse non-refundable travel purchases. Credit cards can also cover your retail and online purchases. These benefits can minimize your out-of-pocket expenses as you reduce your monthly expenses.
Credit card trip protection benefits are not as robust as most standalone travel insurance policies but it’s a complimentary benefit.
You will need to see if the airline, hotel, rental car agency, or tour provider will issue a refund or a credit first. Filing a credit card claim is your next step if the travel brand doesn’t.
Credit cards from American Express and Chase tend to have the best travel protection benefits. The exact coverage you get depends on which card you own.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers these benefits:
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip
- Trip delay reimbursement up to $500 per ticket
- Baggage delay insurance up to $100 a day for 5 days
The trip cancellation coverage can be the most valuable benefit during the novel coronavirus lockdown if you’re already back home. Coverage reasons for non-refundable travel reimbursement include extreme weather and the accidental injury, death, or illness of the cardholder or a travel companion.
If you or a loved one has novel coronavirus and forced into quarantine by a physician, you may get a refund for your travel purchases from Chase.
Related article: Chase Sapphire Preferred Review
Online shopping makes it easy to find low prices for your household essentials.
Capital One credit cards come with two free price monitoring tools to help you get the best price:
- Wikibuy: Scans current prices at many websites to find the best offer
- Paribus: Monitors your recent purchases for price refunds for partial refunds
Mobile Phone Protection
Several credit cards offer free cell phone protection of up to $600 per claim. You will need to pay your monthly phone bill with the credit card. The coverage activates when your phone is lost, stolen, or damaged.
Some cards offer an extended warranty on most physical items you buy. Some exceptions may be technology items including phones, tablets, and TVs. If the original manufacturer’s warranty is three years or shorter, you can get an additional free year.
This immediate benefit of this perk is not having to buy an extended warranty. If the item needs repairs during the warranty period, you can save money several years from now.
Most credit cards offer purchase protection for up to 120 days on items that are lost, stolen, or accidentally damaged. You may need to see if the retailer can exchange the product or offer assistance first.
Here are the coverage limits for Chase and Amex credit cards:
- Chase: Up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account
- American Express: Up to $1,000 per occurrence and $50,000 per account
Citi and Discover no longer offer purchase protection on new purchases.
There are exclusions to some benefits. For example, computers, smartphones, jewelry, and collectibles may not qualify because they are high-dollar items.
One reason to consider paying with credit instead of debit is for the fraud protection benefits. Debit cards have fraud protection too but your bank account may have a low balance until the claim is resolved.
Data thieves are always working hard to steal your card information. The frequency may increase during times like the coronavirus if you make a purchase from a phony website or donate to a fake charity.
These online facades are an easy way to get credit card information from unsuspecting online shoppers. Immediately report the unauthorized charges so you’re not responsible for paying for them. Your bank will send a replacement card with a new number as well.
Most banks offer purchase alerts. When they suspect an unusual purchase, you can receive a text or email alert asking if you made a certain purchase.
Free Credit Score Monitoring
Most credit cards offer free credit score monitoring with monthly score updates. This benefit is helpful when you want to apply for a credit card with better rewards and card benefits in the future. Seeing your credit score is also an easy way to monitor your credit report for errors and fraud.
For example, if the bank mistakenly claims you missed a payment, your credit score will drop. That missed payment can stay on your report for up to 7 years as well.
Bank of America, Citi, and Discover offer FICO credit score monitoring. This is the same credit score version banks use to make application decisions for credit scores and loans.
American Express, Chase, and Capital One monitor your VantageScore. This scoring model is similar to the FICO credit score but not as universally accepted by lenders.
Related Article: Best Places to Get Free Credit Score
Flexible Repayment Options
Because the novel coronavirus is having a short-term economic effect for most households, credit card companies are being more flexible with paying your balance. You should still strive to pay your balance in full and on-time each month to avoid interest charges. At least try to make the minimum monthly payment to keep your account in good standing.
If you’re having a temporary financial difficulty, contact your bank. They may temporarily increase your credit limit. Other banks may waive the monthly payment requirement but interest charges may still accrue.
Some banks offer a fixed payment option for large purchases. American Express has a Pay It Plan It program that lets you make 10 fixed monthly payments. This makes it easy to calculate your total fees for the purchase.
Related Articles: Best American Express Credit Cards and Best American Express Business Credit Cards
Summary of Benefits of Credit Cards That Can Help You
It’s easy to overlook the many travel and retail card benefits that protect your large purchases. But these benefits can come in handy when you have a bad purchase experience or something disrupts your daily routine.
What are some advantages of having a credit card?
Shopping with a credit card offers these potential benefits:
- $0 liability on unauthorized charges
- Improve credit score with on-time payments
- Free credit score monitoring
- Earn rewards points
- Extended warranty on qualifying items
- Purchase protection for lost, damaged, and stolen items
- Return protection when a credit card refuses to accept an item
- Cell phone protection
- No foreign transaction fee
Capital One and Citi offer virtual card numbers. This feature lets you use an alternative credit card number to make online purchases. A stolen virtual card number reduces the potential effects of credit card fraud as you don’t need to wait for a re-issued credit card to arrive.
Are credit card benefits worth it?
Benefits for a no annual fee credit card can be worth it for basic retail and travel purchase protection. However, you may purchase add-on travel insurance or other warranties to protect more expensive purchases.
If you pay an annual fee, your credit card likely offers more extensive benefits than a fee-free card. You will need to decide if these benefits provide more value than the fee. Examples include:
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
- Airport lounge access
- Hotel night certificates
- Airline fee credits
- Uber ride credits
- Cell phone protection
Which bank has the best credit card?
The best credit card can depend on your shopping and travel habits. If you want a card with near-universal acceptance from Visa or Mastercard, a Chase, Capital One, or Citi credit card is a good option. American Express credit cards are a good fit for travel rewards, grocery purchases, and small businesses.
These are some of the best cards to consider first:
- Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Earn unlimited 1.5% back on all purchases and no annual fee; However, the Quicksilver earns unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn at least 2x miles on purchases and redeem miles for award travel
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for travel rewards and trip protection benefits
- Chase Freedom Flex℠: Earn 5% back on the first $1,500 in activated quarterly bonus categories
- Citi® Double Cash Card: Earn 2% back on purchases (2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases) and no annual fee; To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time
If you like premium travel rewards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Platinum Card from American Express are top contenders. These cards offer free airport lounge access, travel credits, and trip protection insurance. While your travel plans are on hold during the novel coronavirus, you can use these benefits once travel resumes. You can compare them in our Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum review.
When searching for the best credit card, compare the annual fee, purchase categories, and additional card benefits. Make sure the rewards and benefits are more valuable than the annual fee.
- 1 Benefits of Credit Cards That Can Help You During Coronavirus
- 2 Travel Insurance
- 3 Price Monitoring
- 4 Mobile Phone Protection
- 5 Extended Warranty
- 6 Purchase Protection
- 7 $0 Liability on Unauthorized Charges
- 8 Free Credit Score Monitoring
- 9 Flexible Repayment Options
- 10 Summary of Benefits of Credit Cards That Can Help You
- 11 FAQs