Analysis

My Credit Card Just Saved Me $150 With the Click of a Button. Here’s How

Credit cards can offer a ton of benefits, from cash back earned on purchases to hotel and airline perks when you travel. I have a few credit cards that I rotate between for different categories of spending, and I pay for as many purchases as I can with one of these cards.

I’m careful to pay off my balance each month when my credit card statement comes in, so I never accrue interest on my spending. I get to enjoy the rewards without paying anything extra, other than a small annual fee on a couple of the cards.

Even though I use my credit cards all the time, I still sometimes forget about the other benefits on offer besides earning rewards. But when I was dealing with an expensive problem recently, I was happy I could turn to my card issuer for a solution.

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A canceled flight

A couple months back, I was on a fantastic trip to Mexico. The food was a dream, the scenery was amazing, and I was having a wonderful time…except for dealing with the flight cancellation that left me stranded in an airport hotel overnight. So, not quite a perfect trip.

Once I got my vacation back on the rails, I decided to wait until I made it home to deal with contacting the airline for compensation. I didn’t want to waste any more hours of my trip worrying about the problem.

I knew it was going to be a hassle to recoup anything from the airline for several reasons: First, it’s based in Mexico and not the U.S., so Department of Transportation rules regarding what airline passengers are owed during a cancellation weren’t going to apply. Second, I didn’t follow the airline’s procedure when I was in the middle of the cancellation (mainly because I couldn’t get in contact with anyone to tell me the procedure), so it was going to be difficult to argue my case for why I was owed compensation.

After several weeks of long holds on the customer service line and inconsistent messaging from the support contact page, I was fed up. But that’s when I remembered I could turn to my credit card for help.

Filing a dispute

The last straw was when a customer service representative asked me if I was free for a phone call the following day, and then never called. If the airline wasn’t going to help me out, I’d go straight to my card issuer.

I’d purchased the airline tickets two months prior on my travel credit card. I was able to log in to my online account, find the expense in my transaction history, and file a dispute. The automated process asked me a few simple questions, like why I was filing the dispute; it didn’t take much more than a minute to get through it all. I hit “Submit” expecting to hear back within a few days, but ding! Instead of a confirmation page for the submission, I was on a confirmation page for a full refund of the $150 purchase. It couldn’t have been easier, and all of a sudden, the tension rushed out of my shoulders. I wasn’t going to have to deal with the airline anymore!

Lean on your credit card for assistance

I’ve been lucky and have only had to file a dispute two other times, both for purchases I didn’t make when my card information must have been stolen. In each of those instances, I was grateful for the protection my credit card afforded me because I didn’t lose any money to a scammer, and I promptly received new credit cards as a precaution.

Even though this dispute was for a purchase I had made myself, I was still protected, and the process was so simple. I didn’t have to wait on the phone to speak to a representative, I didn’t have to build a case, and I didn’t have to wait any time at all before I saw the money credited back to my card.

If you’re deciding whether to make a purchase on a credit card, particularly a large purchase, consider the perks that come with charging that expense. If you buy a new phone and promptly drop it in a puddle, your card might offer purchase protection to repair or replace it. If you take a trip and the airline loses your luggage, you could be due up to several hundred dollars if your card offers baggage delay insurance.

Hopefully you won’t need to take advantage of a lot of these fringe benefits, but they’re an excellent safety net to have when things go awry. As long as you can pay off the entire bill when it comes due, there’s little reason not to use a credit card.

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