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Getting the Biggest Bang for Your Credit Card Buck

Alexa Kane, CFP®, CDFA™
October 17, 2019

Whether it’s for summer travel or holiday shopping, credit cards are a convenient way to pay. As your financial advisors, we certainly don’t advocate overuse of your credit card to the point you can’t pay off your balance every month (the interest on that balance is a budget killer); however, using a credit card wisely will not only build up your credit rating, but also possibly offer some perks you may not be aware of.

Check with your credit card company to make sure you’re taking advantage of everything your card has to offer. Some of the benefits may even save you money.

Car rental collision damage waiver

Most major credit cards offer secondary rental-car insurance, picking up costs that aren’t covered by your personal auto insurance policy if your rental is damaged or stolen. Note: your credit card or personal auto policy may not fully cover charges for “diminished value” or “loss of use.”

Purchase protection

This covers purchases made with your credit card in the event of theft, damage, or lost goods.

Extended warranty protection

Credit cards may extend the original manufacturer’s warranty. Keep this in mind before you purchase an extended warranty on items like electronics.

Lost luggage

Protection through your credit card may cover costs incurred to repair or replace luggage and personal property due to loss or damage on a flight.

Trip delay reimbursement

This benefit may reimburse you if your trip is delayed for more than 12 hours or requires an unexpected overnight stay.

Roadside assistance

Many cards offer roadside assistance, so you’re not scrambling to find someone to fix a flat or tow your broken-down vehicle in the middle of the night. (Note: unless you have certain premium cards, you may have to pay a fee for this service.)

Price matching

If you use a credit card to buy an item that later goes on sale, your card might refund the difference.

Return protection

If a retailer won’t accept a return, some cards will reimburse you for the cost of an item purchased with your card. Typically, you can get a refund within 90 days of a purchase. (Note: certain items, such as jewelry, perishables and tickets, are often not covered.)

Special access to tickets and events

You may be able to get presale or preferred tickets and access to professional sporting events, concerts, shows and other events.

Cell-phone replacement

Some credit card issuers will cover the cost of a new phone as long as you use the card to pay your cell phone bills. Lost phones usually aren’t covered.

Identity theft services

Some card issuers have added identity theft assistance to their benefits. Companies will help review and monitor your credit report, advise you on completing forms such as police reports, and assist you in contacting any other creditors.

Miles and rewards

And don’t forget, even with all of the newer offerings from credit card issuers, there are still many cards that amass everything from frequent flyer miles to hotel stays you can use on your next trip!

Read the Fine Print

The perks aren’t the same for every card so do your homework to see what benefits your card issuer offers.


If you’re shopping for a new card, look for one that rewards your spending patterns. If you buy a lot of gas, a card that pays cash back on fuel purchases is a great option for you. Cash-back cards often let you use the rewards you've accumulated as a statement credit toward purchases, lowering your bill. A card that carries an annual fee may be worthwhile but do the math to decide whether the rewards you earn outweigh the fee. Some cards waive the annual fee for the first year, giving you time to determine whether the card works for you.


As you use your card and build your credit, we encourage you to spend within your means. We don’t want you to risk any of the wealth you’re building.

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The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation.This information does not purport to be a complete description of the developments referred to in this material. Links are being provided for informational purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website's users and/or members.

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