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9 perks that may be hiding in your credit card

The secrets of rewards travel

By Janna Herron/ValuePenguin

Your credit card is more than just its cash-back rewards or travel points. Many cards offer other perks -- often hidden in the small print of your credit card agreement.

Many of these extras target globetrotters and shoppers, but others are more universal benefits like free credit scores and cell phone protection. Some issuers provide distinct benefits like American Express's free two-day shipping and free return shipping on many online purchases.

The key to these benefits is knowing you have them in the first place. Search online for the current agreement for your card to see if you get any of these nine common perks offered by many issuers.

For travelers

Travel accident insurance. Popular among travel rewards cards, this perk covers you and your family in the event of accidental death and dismemberment when traveling by airplane, train, boat or bus -- provided that the fare was paid by the credit card. As is typical, limits and restrictions apply, depending on the issuer.

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance. A less morbid type of travel perk is cancellation insurance, which reimburses you for prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses if your trip is canceled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other situations. This includes passenger fares, tours and hotels, and there's typically a maximum reimbursement amount.

No foreign transaction fees. If you're planning to travel across borders on your next vacation, check if one or more of the cards offers no transaction fees on purchases outside the country. Otherwise, you'll pay this fee -- an extra 2 percent to 3 percent on any transactions that go through a foreign bank or are made in a currency other than the U.S. dollar.

Lost luggage insurance. Some credit cards will cover the cost of lost or stolen luggage -- checked or carry-on -- up to a maximum amount. Common items excluded from the coverage include sports equipment, tickets and other documents, money and debit or credit cards, and medical equipment.

For shoppers

Refund protection. If a store won't accept your return of an unused item, many credit cards will refund the sale. Most policies have a time limit from the date of purchase and limit the dollar amount per item and per calendar year. Purchases typically must have been made in the U.S.

Purchase protection. Your card may cover you even for an item you've damaged or destroyed in use. Many issuers will reimburse you for replacements or repairs of a recent purchase, up to a certain amount per claim and a maximum amount per cardholder. Typically, the item must have been purchased by the card. Some items are not covered -- such as those that "mysteriously disappear" -- so check your card agreement for details.

Online shopping protection. Worried about data breaches at online retailers? Some credit card issuers offer an additional layer of protection when you shop online by providing temporary credit card numbers to complete online transactions. By using these, your real credit card number remains safe. Typically, you can set a spending limit and expiration date for the temp number.

For everyone

Cell phone protection. Got a cracked phone? Get it fixed on your credit card issuer's dime. Some issuers offer coverage if your cell phone is damaged or stolen. Typically, you must have paid for your cell phone or the monthly service bill with your card. The coverage may come with a deductible and usually has a maximum repair amount. It's restricted to a certain number of phones in a household, and the number of annual claims may be limited as well.

Free credit score. This perk is becoming more and more prevalent. Many credit cards will include your FICO credit score with your monthly statement. This is the score they use to monitor your account and approve any unrequested increases in your credit line. Overall, your credit score helps determine if you get approved for a new loan and at what terms and interest rate, so it pays to know where you stand.

This article originally appeared on ValuePenguin

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