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13 Little-Known Credit Card Benefits You Might Be Missing Out On

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Points. Miles. Cash back. When it comes to credit cards, rewards are nothing new. You probably have at least one rewards card in your wallet right now.

But credit card benefits can extend well beyond rewards. The problem is you might not know about them unless you read the fine print. And who does that?

Here are 13 valuable benefits you might not realize your credit card offers.

1. Extended Warranties

“One of the best credit card perks is the ability to extend warranty protection on certain big-ticket purchases,” said Chelsea Hudson, credit card expert at TopCashback.com. Though policies vary by issuer, they will usually extend a manufacturer’s one-year warranty into two years. Hudson said the extended warranty offered by your credit card typically mirrors the terms of the original manufacturer’s warranty.

“To benefit from this added perk, simply charge the item to your card and save your receipt and the product’s warranty documentation,” she said. Some issuers also require you to register the item with them. If the product breaks after the original warranty expires, you can submit a claim to your credit card company and it will decide whether to repair or replace it.

2. Cellphone Insurance

Your cellphone provider might have pitched you their insurance, which typically costs a few bucks a month to protect against loss, theft or damage. However, your credit card might offer cellphone protection as a free benefit. To qualify, you have to pay your cellphone bill with the credit card.

According to J.R. Duren, a credit card analyst and senior editor at consumer reviews site HighYa.com, there’s usually a small deductible of around $25 when you submit a claim through your issuer. Claims are usually paid out by check or direct deposit; you can use the funds to reimburse repair costs, or put the money toward a new or used phone, said Duren.

3. Concierge Service

According to Hudson, you might assume that “concierge” is just a fancy word for “customer service.” Not so. You can think of a concierge as your personal assistant, who can help you with everything from booking concert tickets to researching the best spot for a romantic dinner for two. And your credit card might come with this benefit at no cost. Hudson said this perk can be especially handy when you’re traveling and aren’t familiar with the area.

4. Rental Car Insurance

If you’ve ever rented a car, you’re probably familiar with that dreaded insurance the rental agency rep will aggressively pitch you. But buying additional coverage through the rental company is usually a rip-off, especially when your credit card already offers added protection.

“Most credit cards provide car rental insurance,” said Hudson. To qualify for this coverage, you need to decline the rental company’s insurance and pay for the rental with the card. Of course, be sure to check with your credit card issuer ahead of time to verify you have this benefit and find out about any important conditions.

5. Purchase Protection

Similar to the extended warranty perk, purchase protection will guard you against losing money on a new purchase that’s stolen or accidentally damaged. According to Duren, you usually have between 60 and 120 days from the purchase date to file a claim. However, he warned that this benefit often comes with a very specific set of restrictions. “For instance, they may not provide reimbursement for motorized vehicles, live items like plants and animals, antiques, secondhand items and jewelry,” Duren said.

6. Price Protection

At some point, you’ve probably felt the frustration of making a major purchase, only to find out it dropped in price just a few days later. Fortunately, some credit cards offer price protection, which means if you buy an item with your card that’s later advertised for a lower price, you’ll be reimbursed for the difference.

Jacob Lunduski, a financial industry analyst at Credit Card Insider, said that you usually have up to 60 to 120 days from the purchase date to report a price change. “Make sure to search for items you recently bought that might have had their cost cut,” he said, since most card companies won’t do the research for you. You can use an online tracker such as SlickDeals, Paribus or CamelCamelCamel (for Amazon purchases) to keep an eye on price changes. However, Lunduski noted that Citi actually has a price rewind feature that automatically searches the internet for lower prices on items you buy with the card.

7. Return Protection

Some credit cards offer return protection, which allows eligible purchases to
be returned for a refund even if the retailer refuses to take them back, according to Lunduski.

An analysis by WalletHub found that most cards with this benefit allow you to make returns within 90 days of the purchase date. Usually, there’s no cap on the number of claims you can make each year, but there is typically a cap on the dollar amount you can claim annually. Most individual claims are capped at $300 as well. You should contact your card issuer to find out what types of purchases qualify for this benefit.

8. Protection Against Unforeseen Circumstances While Traveling

Many travel credit cards will come with perks beyond the ability to earn miles or points. For example, Hudson pointed out that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card covers up to $10,000 per trip for unexpected cancellations, as long as you pay with your Chase card. “You can also be reimbursed for delayed luggage,” said Hudson. “Chase Sapphire Preferred will reimburse $100 per day for up to five days for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing if your luggage is delayed after six hours.”

9. Free Checked Baggage

If you travel internationally or are a die-hard Southwest Airlines patron you’re used to checking bags for free. But for the rest of the country, baggage fees of $25 or more are the norm. Fortunately, many airline-specific rewards cards will waive baggage fees for cardholders. Airlines that offer free checked baggage through their co-branded cards include Delta, United Airlines and JetBlue.

10. Global Entry/TSA Precheck

Waiting around to be felt up by airport security is never fun. But if you’re a frequent traveler, you can end up wasting days of your life standing in the security line. “The TSA Precheck and Global Entry programs provide shortcuts and shorter lines through the airport and border security,” Hudson explained. Usually, these programs cost around $100 for a five-year membership. However, your travel rewards card might cover some or all of the cost, Hudson said.

11. Uber Credits

Whether you need a ride to the airport or had an extra glass of wine at dinner, Uber makes it super simple and cost-effective to leave your car at home. Even better, you can score discounted or free rides with some credit cards.

“If you’re an active ride-sharing service user, research credit cards that offer credits or free rides with Uber,” Hudson said. For instance, the Platinum Card from American Express offers $200 in Uber credits each year, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve gives three times the rewards on Uber transactions. Hudson did warn that many of these cards charge annual fees, however.

12. Free Access To Your Credit Score

Knowing your credit score is pretty important, especially if you plan to borrow money in the near future. In the past, you’d have to pay a service to see your FICO score and keep paying each month to receive updates and monitoring alerts.

Today, however, many credit card companies let you view your FICO score for free, including American Express, Bank of America, Barclays, Chase, Citi, Capital One, Wells Fargo and Discover, according to Hudson. Look out for your score on your monthly statement or log in to your online banking account to see it.

13. Event Ticket Protection

Finally, certain American Express cardholders can take advantage of an event ticket protection plan. “Cardholders who purchase a ticket that can no longer be used for an eligible reason can be refunded up to $1,000 twice a year,” Lunduski said. If you’re an AmEx customer, contact a representative to find out if this benefit applies to you.

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4 things kids need to know about money

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(NC) Responsible spending includes knowing the difference between wants and needs. Back-to-school season, with added expenses and expectations around spending, is the perfect time to not only build your own budget for the year ahead, but also to introduce your own children to the concept of budgeting.

The experts at Capital One break down four basic things that every child should know about money, along with tips for bringing real-life examples into the conversation.

What money is. There’s no need for a full economic lesson,but knowing that money can be exchanged for goods and services, and that the government backs its value, is a great start.
How to earn money. Once your child understands what money is, use this foundational knowledge to connect the concepts of money and work. Start with the simple concept that people go to work in exchange for an income, and explain how it may take time (and work) to save for that new pair of sneakers or backpack. This can help kids develop patience and alleviate the pressure to purchase new items right away that might not be in your budget.
The many ways to pay. While there is a myriad of methods to pay for something in today’s digital age, you can start by explaining the difference between cash, debit and credit. When teaching your kids about credit, real examples help. For instance, if your child insists on a grocery store treat, offer to buy it for them as long as they pay you back from their allowance in a timely manner. If you need a refresher, tools like Capital One’s Credit Keeper can help you better understand your own credit score and the importance of that score to overall financial health.
How to build and follow a budget. This is where earning, spending, saving and sharing all come together. Build a budget that is realistic based on your income and spending needs and take advantage of banking apps to keep tabs on your spending in real-time. Have your kids think about how they might split their allowance into saving, spending and giving back to help them better understand money management.

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20 Percent Of Americans In Relationships Are Committing Financial Infidelity

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Nearly 30 million Americans are hiding a checking, savings, or credit card account from their spouse or live in partner, according to a new survey from CreditCards.com. That’s roughly 1 in 5 that currently have a live in partner or a spouse.

Around 5 million people — or 3 percent — used to commit “financial infidelity,” but no longer do.

Of all the respondents, millennials were more likely than other age groups to hide financial information from their partner. While 15 percent of older generations hid accounts from their partner, 28 percent of millennials were financially dishonest.

Regionally, Americans living in the South and the West were more likely to financially “cheat” than those living in the Northeast and Midwest.

Insecurity about earning and spending could drive some of this infidelity, according to CreditCards.com industry analyst Ted Rossman.

When it comes to millennials, witnessing divorce could have caused those aged 18-37 to try and squirrel away from Rossman calls a “freedom fund”.

“They’ve got this safety net,” Rossman said. They’re asking: “What if this relationship doesn’t work out?”

As bad as physical infidelity

More than half (55 percent) of those surveyed believed that financial infidelity was just as bad as physically cheating. That’s including some 20 percent who believed that financially cheating was worse.

But despite this, most didn’t find this to be a deal breaker.

Over 80 percent surveyed said they would be upset, but wouldn’t end the relationship. Only 2 percent of those asked would end the relationship if they discovered their spouse or partner was hiding $5,000 or more in credit card debt. That number however is highest among those lower middle class households ($30,000-$49,999 income bracket): Nearly 10 percent would break things off as a result.

Roughly 15 percent said they wouldn’t care at all. Studies do show however that money troubles is the leading cause of stress in a relationship.

That’s why, Rossman says, it’s important to share that information with your partner.

“Talking about money with your spouse isn’t always easy, but it has to be done,” he said. “You can still maintain some privacy over your finances, and even keep separate accounts if you and your spouse agree, but you need to get on the same page regarding your general direction, otherwise your financial union is doomed to fail.”

With credit card rates hovering at an average of 19.24 percent APR, hiding financial information from a partner could be financially devastating.

But, Rossman adds, it’s not just about the economic impact but also the erosion of trust.

“More than the dollars and cents is that trust factor,” he said. “I think losing that trust is so hard to regain. That could be a long lasting wedge.”

Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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7 Examples Of Terrible Financial Advice We’ve Heard

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Between television, radio, the internet and well-meaning but presumptuous friends and family, we’re inundated with unsolicited advice on a daily basis. And when it comes to money, there’s a ton of terrible advice out there. Even so-called experts can lead us astray sometimes.

Have you been duped? Here are a few examples of the worst money advice advisers, bloggers and other personal finance pros have heard.

1. Carry a balance to increase your credit score.

Ben Luthi, a money and travel writer, said that a friend once told him that his mortgage loan officer advised him to carry a balance on his credit card in order to improve his credit score. In fact, the loan officer recommended keeping the balance at around 50 percent of his credit limit.

“This is the absolute worst financial advice I’ve ever heard for several reasons,” Luthi said. For one, carrying a credit card balance doesn’t have any effect on your credit at all. “What it does do is ensure that you pay a high interest rate on your balance every month, neutralizing any other benefits you might get from the card,” Luthi explained. “Also, keeping a 50 percent credit utilization is a surefire way to hurt your credit score, not help it.”

Some credit experts recommend keeping your balance below 30 percent of the card limit, but even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Keeping your balance as low as possible and paying the bill on time each month is how you improve your score.

2. Avoid credit cards ― period.

Credit cards can be a slippery slope for some people; overspending can lead to a cycle of debt that’s tough to escape.

But avoiding credit cards on principle, something personal finance gurus like Dave Ramsey push hard, robs you of all their potential benefits.

“Credit cards are a good tool for building credit and earning rewards,” explained personal finance writer Kim Porter. “Plus, there are lots of ways to avoid debt, like using the card only for monthly bills, paying off the card every month and tracking your spending.”

If you struggle with debt, a credit card is probably not for you. At least not right now. But if you are on top of your finances and want to leverage debt in a strategic way, a credit card can help you do just that.

3. The mortgage you’re approved for is what you can afford.

“The worst financial advice I hear is to buy as much house as you can afford,” said R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner who founded the blog The Ways to Wealth. He explained that most lenders use the 28/36 rule to determine how much you can afford to borrow: Up to 28 percent of your monthly gross income can go toward your home, as long as the payments don’t exceed 36 percent of your total monthly debt payments. For example, if you had a credit card, student loan and car loan payment that together totaled $640 a month, your mortgage payment should be no more than $360 (36 percent of $1,000 in total debt payments).

“What homeowners don’t realize is this rule was invented by banks to maximize their bottom line ― not the homeowner’s financial well-being,” Weiss said. “Banks have figured out that this is the largest amount of debt one can take on with a reasonable chance of paying it back, even if that means you have to forego saving for retirement, college or short-term goals.”

4. An expensive house is worth it because of the tax write-off.

Scott Vance, owner of taxvanta.com, said a real estate agent told him when he was younger that it made sense to buy a more expensive house because he had the advantage of writing off the mortgage interest on his taxes.

But let’s stop and think about that for a moment. A deduction simply decreases your taxable income ― it’s not a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax bill. So committing to a larger mortgage payment to take a bigger tax deduction still means paying more in the long run. And if that high mortgage payment compromises your ability to keep up on other bills or save money, it’s definitely not worth it.

“Now, as a financial planner focusing on taxes, I see the folly in such advice,” he said, noting that he always advises his client to consider the source of advice before following it. ”Taking tax advice from a Realtor is … like taking medical procedure advice from your hairdresser.”

5. You need a six-month emergency fund.

One thing is true: You need an emergency fund. But when it comes to how much you should save in that fund, it’s different for each person. There’s no cookie-cutter answer that applies to everyone. And yet many experts claim that six months’ worth of expenses is exactly how much you should have socked away in a savings account.

“I work with a lot of Hollywood actors, and six months won’t cut it for these folks,” said Eric D. Matthews, CEO and wealth adviser at EDM Capital. “I also work with executives in the same industry where six months is overkill. You need to strike a balance for your work, industry and craft.”

If you have too little saved, a major financial blow can leave you in debt regardless. And if you set aside too much, you lose returns by leaving the money in a liquid, low-interest savings account. “The generic six months is a nice catch-all, but nowhere near the specific need of the individual’s unique situation… and aren’t we all unique?”

6. You should accept your entire student loan package.

Aside from a house, a college education is often one of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetimes. Often loans are needed to bridge the gap between college savings and that final tuition bill. But just because you’re offered a certain amount doesn’t mean you need to take it all.

“The worst financial advice I received was that I had to accept my entire student loan package and that I had no other options,” said Gina Zakaria, founder of The Frugal Convert. “It cost me a lot in student loan debt. Now I tell everyone that you never have to accept any part of a college financial package that you don’t want to accept.” There are always other options, she said.

7. Only invest in what you know.

Even the great Warren Buffett, considered by many to be the best investor of all time, gets it wrong sometimes. One of his most famous pieces of advice is to only invest in what you know, but that might not be the right guidance for the average investor.

In theory, it makes sense. After all, you don’t want to tie up your money in overly complicated investments you don’t understand. The problem is, most of us are not business experts, and it’s nearly impossible to have deep knowledge of hundreds of securities. “Diversification is key to a good portfolio, and investing in what you know leads to a very un-diversified portfolio,” said Britton Gregory, a certified financial planner and principal of Seaborn Financial. “Instead, invest in a well-diversified portfolio that includes many companies, even ones you’ve never heard of.”

That might mean enlisting the help of a professional, so make sure it’s one who has your best interests at heart.

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