Davin and I are the type of people who charge everything to our credit card. We pay off the balance each month so we aren’t carrying any debt on our cards. For us, the main appeal of credit cards is the rewards: his pays cash back and mine pays points. With these rewards, we feel like we are getting free returns on items we would’ve bought regardless.
I’ve had the same credit card for about nine years now. I read in I Will Teach You to Be Rich that your credit score is based partially on the credit card you’ve had longest and so you should avoid closing that card as it will shorten your credit history. Although the creators of the credit score formula keep it shrouded in mystery, I’ve since found other sources stating this piece of advice and it rings true to my common sense. So as a consequence I’ve had this credit card for nearly a decade.
I happened to choose this particular credit card because it was affiliated with MTV U (the university version of MTV, feel free to judge me!) Because of that affiliation, the credit card gave me extra bonuses for good grades at college. Since I was a good student, I was happy to take them up on this. It reminded me of when as a kid Chuck E Cheeses would give free tokens for getting As! After I graduated, the card lost the super-cool MTV U stamp, but I continued to love my credit card because I was getting great rewards. Since I always paod off my credit card, to me it was free points for money I would’ve spent anyways. Then about two years ago, my credit card became linked with Amazon.com such that I can use my points directly at Amazon without going through the credit card company at all. All in all I thought I was extremely happy with my credit card.
That sounds like a foreshadowing to a horrible tale, but it’s not. In fact, I was about to get a whole lot happier.
Over the summer, I went to England with my friend where we rented a car and drove across the British country side. I was in charge of car rental since I got a good military discount through USAA, but my friend told me that her credit card had car rental insurance and to check if mine does too. So I looked it up and lo and behold, my credit card covers car rental insurance for free.
While I was in the customer service section of my credit card’s benefits, I also noticed that they offer an extended warranty on any electronics I buy on my card. Additionally, if I have to change or cancel travel plans last minute due to illness or poor weather, my credit card company will reimburse me up to $1,500 in non-refundable fees, such as fees for changing flights.
In fact, my credit card has 29 separate benefits listed! These range from protection against identity fraud to early release of concert tickets. And here I was happy with just the points.
This post was triggered today because I received an email from my credit card saying that one of my latest purchases probably qualified for their “Rewind” program. I had never heard of that in my nine years as a customer, so intrigued I read the email. It turns out that I can enter recently purchased items and the company will look for a lower price, free of charge, and if a lower price is found they will refund me the difference.
Now the moral of this story isn’t that my particular credit card is amazing. It’s probably clear by now that yes, I love it, but I don’t think it’s just my card offering all these behind-the-scenes perks. I have a secondary card that has many of the same benefits and a few differing ones, such as free subscription to Shoprunner, a service that provides free 2-day shipping at many retail websites. Instead, I believe that over the last near-decade the credit industry has had more competition and is offering these benefits to attract and maintain customers. Some of these benefits are amazing and I wish I had known about them long ago. So if you haven’t checked in a while, I strongly urge you to sign in to your credit card account and find the benefits associated with your particular card.