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Credit card benefits aren’t what they used to be – they’re better

While you weren’t looking, your credit card benefits may have gotten better. When you think about perks, you may think about the ones that have been around for a while: cash-back bonuses, travel rewards, or maybe discounts on car rental insurance. Those benefits are great, but they can take a while to accumulate, so they tend to be a bit set-it-and-forget-it.

While those kinds of programs are still widely available, the credit card networks have been working behind the scenes to update their perks and provide more variety. In many cases, they’re offering new discounts and services that can be used on an everyday basis. In other words, perks are getting a bit, well, perkier.

“The networks have done a lot of research to determine what kinds of benefits are most useful to people these days,” says Jaclyn Dinkel, an assistant vice president for consumer credit cards at Commerce Bank. “Most people are looking for everyday value, augmented by personalized offers that are tailored to them. And they want perks that are digital and integrate seamlessly into services they already use.”

Here are a few good examples of credit card benefits that are relatively new to the scene – and may even be on a card you already carry:

  • Cell phone protection plans. Some cards offer protection plans for your phone, with coverage ranging anywhere from $200 to $1,000. All you have to do is pay your monthly cell phone bill with that credit card, and you’re automatically provided the coverage at no extra cost. “The process is very easy, too,” says Dinkel. “It can be as simple as filling out an online form with the documentation, and that’s it.”

    The protection is supplemental to any other cell-phone insurance you may carry, which means it kicks in after you reach the limit of any other policy you have. You can even use it to get reimbursed for the deductible from your other coverage. The policy covers theft as well as damage, including the dreaded cracked screen. And again: it’s free.

  • Discounts on ride sharing. If you’re a frequent user of Lyft and Uber , your card might earn you extra perks with them. Some will let you earn discounts toward Lyft rides, not unlike the way you can earn a free sandwich after eating at your favorite lunch spot a certain number of times. In this case, however, you don’t have to keep a punch card in your wallet; your Lyft account will track it for you.

    As for Uber, linking certain Visa® credit cards to your account helps you more quickly earn Uber Cash when you use that card at participating retailers. The program is called Visa Local Offers, and you enroll for it in the Uber app. The app is also where you discover which retailers near you (examples include Dunkin® Donuts, QDOBA Mexican Eats®, and Regal Cinemas™) are participating.

  • Reimbursing your TSA Pre✓® enrollment fees. Anyone who travels a lot understands the benefits of TSA Pre✓®: shorter and faster-moving security lines with fewer hassles. Some credit cards will provide a statement credit to offset the $85 TSA Pre✓® enrollment fee when you use the card to pay for your application. Yes, someone found a way to make TSA Pre✓® even better.

  • Discounts on fun things. Certain cards automatically provide you with discounts on Postmates orders and opportunities to double points by buying movie tickets or streaming movies through Fandango®. Again, all you have to do is load your card into these apps, and next time you do dinner and a movie, you can automatically get discounts and extras.

  • Enhanced identity theft. Hopefully you won’t have your identity stolen, but it happens to lots of people every day. You want as much protection against it as you can get. Fortunately, many credit cards today provide you with extra protection for your ID – credit monitoring, 24/7 resolution services, lost-wallet assistance and more.

These are just a few examples, and every credit card is different, but it’s worth taking a few minutes to see what credit card benefits you might have available. After all, perks are always changing, and they’re almost always free. And make a habit of checking every few months or so, in case something new pops up on one of your cards – like the recent addition of cell phone protection to Commerce’s Visa credit cards. And if you don’t love the benefits your current cards offer you, there are options like Commerce Bank’s World Elite Mastercard®, which provides almost all of the features listed above.

“I think many people will be surprised at how good the benefits on a lot of cards are these days,” says Dinkel. “In many cases, you can get the benefits simply for using your credit card to pay for things you’re already purchasing anyway. They’re all very easy to access. It’s worth looking into.”

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