Three major credit card issuers recently reduced their benefits.
In some cases, the benefits listed below have been so valuable that even having to pay a $75 – $100 annual fee has made them worthwhile. However, the math has changed, so read the details carefully.
Citi is making the following changes, effective July 29th.
Price protection. Citi’s Price Rewind has always been one of my favorite benefits. If you buy something with a Citi credit card and within 60 days of purchase find it offered for a lower price, Citi will give you a statement credit for the difference. I’ve gotten hundreds of dollars back this way—on a laptop computer, camera, camera lens, Christmas gifts, and more.
The benefit is now capped at $200 per item (down from $500) and $1,000 per year (down from $2,500). Still a great benefit, just not as great.
Damage and theft protection. If something you bought with your Citi card is damaged or stolen, Citi will repair it or reimburse you up to the amount of purchase. The maximum amount has been reduced from $10,000 per item to $1,000, while the $50,000 annual max hasn’t changed. The window for making a claim has been shortened from 120 days to 90.
90-day return protection. If you try to return an item you bought with your Citi card and the merchant won’t take it back, Citi may refund the purchase price up to $300 per item (down from $500) and $1,000 per year (down from $2,500). Another change is that several types of products were added to the list of items not included in this coverage, including: Jewelry, appliances, furniture, and tires.
Car rental insurance. Maximum coverage has dropped from $100,000 to $50,000. Also, Citi cards will no longer cover loss of use. This is one of the lesser-known aspects of rental car agreements, which can be costly. In essence, the company charges you a fee for every day its car is not available to be rented because the damages you caused are being repaired. What to do now that Citi has dropped this coverage? See if the insurance you carry on a vehicle you own covers this.
To learn more about car rental insurance and see whether you should buy it, read Do You Need Rental-Car Insurance?
Trip cancellation and interruption protection. Before traveling, it’s good to know what protections your credit card company offers. For example, when putting together an expensive vacation to NY, I bought five tickets to a Broadway show. Ticket Master offers insurance, but I had checked with my credit card company and they said they would reimburse the ticket costs if we had to cancel our trip and Ticket Master would not refund our money. That enabled me to turn down the Ticket Master insurance.
However, the total amount of coverage provided by the credit card company is now greatly reduced. The allowance per covered traveler per trip is now $1,500 (down from $5,000). Situations in which the coverage would kick in have become more restricted as well. For example, it used to be that if you had to cancel a trip because your pet became seriously ill or you were laid off from your job, the card would reimburse you for certain non-refundable trip expenses. Those provisions no longer apply.
Effective August 26th, Chase is completely eliminating its Price Protection (similar to Citi’s Price Rewind) and Return Protection benefits.
Earlier this year, Discover completely eliminated the following benefits:
- Extended product warranty
- Purchase protection
- Return guarantee
- Auto rental coverage
- Flight accident insurance
Many credit cards still offer valuable benefits and are safer than debit cards when it comes to identity theft. However, if it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed the benefits available from your card company, now would be a good time to take a look.
Which of the above benefits have you used in the past?