As a stagnant economy nudges back to life, credit card companies are getting ultracompetitive, and that means perks to entice customers back to borrowing.
Many of the extras are obvious, such as airline miles or cash back. But others require a little reading of the find print in the credit agreement.
You know, that pamphlet most people never read.
"You may have a ton of perks on your credit card and you don't even know it," said Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com.
"Your credit card is not only a convenient way to pay for things; it can also get you a lot of great freebies."
The key, she said, is to know what each card offers.
Many offer "price protection," so if something bought with that card goes on sale for a lower price, the card will refund the difference. Others have "free return protection" if you simply don't like the item.
There is also theft, breakage and loss protection.
"If you have extended manufacturers warranty on your credit card then they will double the manufacturers warranty usually up to a year on your card absolutely free," she said.
For travelers, credit cards may offer insurance for trip cancellation and lost luggage as well as free roadside assistance.
"See if they offer free collision damage waiver coverage," Detweiler said. "That will save you when the car rental company asks you if you want to pay $25 to $28 a day for rental insurance."
Also, some airline credit cards offer free checked luggage for you and up to three others traveling with you, she said.
Detweiler reminded consumers who have more than one credit card to check the benefits before buying – especially big-ticket purchases.
"Some of the higher end credit cards, especially the airline reward cards, offer concierge service," she said. "So they are really trying to establish a relationship with you because, if you think about it, they want your business long term. If you are a big spender or carry balances they want to keep you as a customer."
Those that keep a balance also need to remember that debt almost always wipes out the value of the perk, Detweiler said.