Best Credit Card Benefits of 2024

Quick Answer

The best credit card benefits add significant value beyond purchasing power and consumer protection. The ability to earn rewards, pay down debt interest-free and receive cash back are just a few of the useful benefits credit cards deliver.

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Credit cards offer numerous benefits besides the ability to purchase goods and services and build good credit. The best credit cards offer valuable rewards ranging from cash back and dining credits to airline miles and airport lounge access.

Of course, credit cards offer other compelling features, such as additional purchase power, protection against unauthorized charges and access to emergency funds in a pinch. Here are 10 of the best credit card benefits of 2024.

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1. The Ability to Earn Generous Rewards

One of the most important benefits any credit card can offer is the ability to earn rewards. Rewards credit cards can earn you money on online purchases, travel expenses, purchases at the gas pump and more.

Credit card rewards typically come in one of three forms: cash back, points or miles. Depending on which card you have, you'll usually only earn one type of reward.

  • Cash back: If you're interested in using your rewards to help pay off bills, you might want to stick to a card that earns cash back. With cash back, you earn a certain percentage back on your purchases, which you can then redeem against charges on your statement, among other options.
  • Points: Certain issuers field their own proprietary points programs with rewards you can earn by using their credit cards. Depending on the particular credit card you carry, you might be able to redeem your rewards for statement credits you use to pay your bill, for specific types of purchases such as travel, or even transfer them to airline and hotel partners.
  • Miles: Finally, you might pick up a credit card that earns miles with a specific airline or hotel chain. Some cards earn miles that can be used just like points.

Just as there are multiple ways to earn credit card rewards, you also have several options when it comes to redeeming those rewards.

You can usually redeem cash back rewards as a statement credit, check or direct deposit to an eligible bank account; the method may vary based on your card. The redemption value of cash back rewards is generally pretty simple: $1 in rewards is equal to $1 in cash back.

If your card earns points or miles, how you redeem rewards could vary depending on your card and its rewards program guidelines. For example, you may be able to redeem your points or miles for travel benefits, statement credits, direct deposits, gift cards, merchandise and more.

2. Intro Bonus Offers

The other great way to rake in lots of extra rewards is to apply for a credit card with a generous introductory bonus.

Intro bonuses, also known as welcome bonuses, offer a windfall of points, miles or cash you can earn by opening a new account and reaching a certain spending requirement. These bonuses can include anything from thousands of airline miles or hotel points to put toward travel to hundreds of dollars in cash back. In general, welcome bonuses are a great way to earn a lot of points or miles when you first get your new credit card.

Credit card companies offer intro bonuses to entice you to sign up for their credit card. For example, you may see introductory bonus offers of $200 cash back or 60,000 bonus points when you spend a certain amount on the card within the first few months.

It's also good practice to check the terms and conditions for the bonus offers on any card you're thinking about getting. Some cards restrict who can earn a bonus, especially if you've had the card before.

3. Introductory 0% APR Financing

One of the most significant benefits of credit cards is intro 0% annual percentage rate (APR) financing, which allows you to make charges on the card for a period of time without accruing interest. You still owe the money you borrow, but you don't incur added interest until the intro APR period expires, often in six to 21 months. Keep in mind, you must pay off your balance before the introductory period ends to completely avoid paying interest.

Some cards offer 0% intro APR financing on any purchases you make. You may want to use a 0% intro offer if you were planning to make a large purchase, such as a new couch or plane tickets, or you're facing a large unexpected expense, such as replacing an expensive home appliance. The introductory period can make your purchase more affordable by allowing you to stretch out interest-free payments over several months rather than all at once.

If you're looking to pay off debt faster and save money at the same time, you might consider getting a balance transfer credit card. As the name suggests, these cards let you transfer debts from other accounts. Once transferred, cards with a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers allow you to pay off your balance interest-free, as long as you pay it off before the intro period ends. This interest savings can be a great way to save money in the long run. Before you sign up for a balance transfer card, check out the card's terms and fees. Generally, you must pay a balance transfer fee, which typically ranges from 3% to 5% of the amount you transfer.

4. Annual Statement Credits

Another fantastic credit card benefit to look out for is annual statement credits that can save you money on specific purchases. Often, the best credit cards with benefits like annual statement credits come with high annual fees. These credits can help offset the annual fees.

Statement credits come in various forms, namely:

  • Travel credits: Many cards offer annual statement credits as travel perks or reimbursements. For example, you may receive credit for delivery orders and rides and or credit for TSA PreCheck.
  • Dining credits: Card issuers that provide dining benefits may partner with certain eateries or delivery services to provide a certain amount of money you can use per month or per year on meals.
  • Streaming credits: With the right card, you could earn annual statement credits while binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix or creating your workout playlist on Spotify.

5. Zero Liability Protection

Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you are not responsible for any charges made to your credit card if they occur after you report it lost or stolen. And your liability is capped at $50 in case you report your card lost after fraudulent charges appear on your account.

However, many credit cards provide zero liability protection against fraudulent charges. Zero liability protection is a policy from your cardholder agreement that pledges you won't be financially responsible for unauthorized charges at all.

6. Grace Period

The grace period on a credit card is the time between the end of your card's billing cycle and your payment due date. During this time, you can reap the benefits of a credit card—such as the ability to build credit and accrue rewards—without incurring interest charges.

Generally, grace periods give you at least 21 days to repay your purchases interest-free. Review your card's terms to verify how long your grace period lasts. Bear in mind, grace periods are typically limited to purchases only. Most credit card companies require you to begin paying interest immediately when you make a cash advance or balance transfer.

Unfortunately, you can forfeit your interest-free advantage if you don't pay your entire balance each month and on time. Even carrying a small balance into the next billing cycle will result in interest charges on the amount you didn't pay, plus any new purchases you make in the future. If you lose your no-interest period due to a balance you're carrying over, pay as much as you can each month to get caught up and regain your interest-free grace period.

7. Travel Insurance

Many credit cards provide valuable travel insurance benefits that can help protect you financially when your trip encounters turbulence—from a trip delay or cancellation, a lost bag or an accident, to name a few examples. If you're traveling soon, read your card's benefits guide to understand the extent of your coverage on your trip. Alternatively, review some of the top travel credit cards to see what travel insurance options you could receive with a new card.

Coverages vary from card to card, but some of the most common insurance benefits available include:

  • Car rental collision damage waiver: This coverage could reimburse you for damages if your rental car is damaged or stolen—up to the actual cash value of your vehicle.
  • Trip delay reimbursement: If a lengthy flight delay causes you to incur extra expenses like spending the night at a hotel, you may qualify for a reimbursement if you booked your carrier travel with your credit card. This coverage may be secondary to your personal insurance policy.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance: With this coverage, you could be eligible for reimbursement if an illness, jury duty or another covered incident causes your trip to be canceled or interrupted.
  • Baggage delay insurance: If your luggage is lost or delayed long enough (delay times vary by credit card), you may be eligible for reimbursement of items you must replace.

8. Lounge Access

Some premier credit cards offer entry into exclusive airport lounges—a comfortable space with perks not found in the regular terminal. Amenities may include free Wi-Fi, complimentary food and drinks, showers and even spa treatments. Access to an airport lounge could give you a much-needed moment to relax with a massage or get work done at a comfortable workstation.

9. Roadside Assistance

One often overlooked credit card benefit is roadside assistance. But if a flat tire or dead battery suddenly halts your day, roadside assistance can help you get back on track. It's especially helpful if you're stuck alone in an unfamiliar area.

Not all credit cards offer this perk, but those that do will provide you with a dedicated hotline you can call in an emergency. If your car won't start, or if you need help changing a tire or other assistance, you can usually call this number for help, whether you're driving your own car or are a passenger in another person's car.

10. Cellphone Insurance

Another little-known perk some credit cards offer is cellphone insurance. This protection plan covers the cost of a new cell phone due to damage, theft and other covered events. Coverage amounts vary from $600 to $1,000, and you must pay for your phone bill with your credit card.

It could be wise to set up your phone bill for autopay using your credit card, because you'll lose your insurance benefit when you don't use your card for the bill payment.

How to Find the Best Credit Card Benefits for You

It's a smart move to align the benefits of any new credit card you're considering with your unique personal needs. For example, if you're a travel enthusiast, you'll get considerable value from a credit card that offers extra rewards for travel-related expenses, free annual hotel stays and airport lounge access.
Experian lets you quickly compare credit cards and their current rewards details. You may improve your odds of approval and more favorable rates with a top credit score. If your credit score isn't where you'd like it to be, take steps to improve it and track your progress with free credit monitoring.

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