Jesse Jones: 25% of card users don’t use their credit card perks

SEATTLE — The holiday shopping season is almost here. And, according to the Federal Reserve at least 1/3 of what we buy will be charged, earning us valuable points or perks.

But according to a recent survey, nearly a fourth of Americans aren’t claiming those rewards.

“I think people would be surprised to know how many everyday perks there are. I actually think these are a very well-kept secret,” says Bankrate Analyst Ted Rossman.

Credit card companies use perks to attract customers and justify high annual rates. But often times those perks are left unused. So how do you ensure you’re making the most of those perks?

Ask your credit card company for a list of benefits and understand what is on the table. “That is actually a really important bit of advice as well is just to familiarize yourself with these different programs, because a lot of times they are kind of out of sight and out of mind.”

Bankrate says last year cash back reward cards became the most popular. One reason is the ease of cashing in that cash back credit. “In the past few years, we have seen more of a movement towards everyday credits, which is something that I think the pandemic accelerated this trend because cards usually have been tied to travel.”

Ted says some of the most important perks that credit cards offer are consumer protections. “Purchase protection is a great perk. Extended warranty coverage, I think is a no-brainer, especially if you’re buying something like a TV or refrigerator or some bigger ticket item. A lot of cards will add to that manufacturer’s warranty.”

Many higher-end cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, offer primary rental car insurance, so you can decline the pricey coverage.

And, if you’re in an accident, you won’t need to go through your personal insurer.

The Amex Platinum has an annual fee of $695 but the perks are valued at $1500. “If you’re paying $695 a year and you’re not using this stuff, it’s not worth it. But if you are using it, it could be tremendously valuable.”

The advice for consumers is, to take an inventory and figure out what you use, says Rossman – and don’t pay higher fees for perks you’re not using.