I typically ignore phone calls from unknown numbers, and that goes double for area codes from Texas.
It's almost always my credit card issuer, Bank of America, and it's almost always a courtesy call that lasts way longer than I have tolerance for.
After five missed calls in a row, I finally picked up this afternoon. The representative was polite, even when I tried to brush her off, and thanked me for being a new rewards cardholder. Then she asked me a question that made me perk up:
"Did you know that when you transfer your cashback bonus into your savings or checking account, we give back another 10 percent on top of that?"
No, I did not know that. And yes, I'd definitely send my cashback bonuses to my savings account (which she did for me over the phone) and take the extra 10 percent.
That got me thinking –– what other perks don't I know about my own credit card?
The representative turned me onto Benefitinformationcenter.com, a third party site BofA uses for their Visa and MasterCard cardholders. It asks customers to plug in the first 10 digits of their card number and in return, they receive a concise rundown of some of the lesser-known benefits of their cards.
Off the bat, the site looked a little offputting –– no BofA or Visa logo to speak of –– so I called up BofA to verify the call and that I wasn't getting scammed. A representative and her supervisor assured me all was well. Though it is only useful to BofA cardholders (with Visa, MasterCard or American Express cards), it does indeed provide a roundup of benefits. It's also the site customer service representatives use whenever cardholders call to question their benefits.
She also assured me it has no access to customer accounts whatsoever.
The site is backed by Affinion Loyalty Group, a consumer benefits group that helps brands come up with rewards programs that will hopefully make their customers stick around. We also ran it through Do Not Track Me, a web browser privacy add-on that alerts Internet-goers when any site is tracking their personal information (we totally recommend this as well). Both sites checked out.
Reassured by calling my bank, I went ahead and checked my card. Turns out I was missing a lot. I can get in free to museums on the first weekend of every month, and any purchases I make on the card come with a one-year extended warranty, and 90-day replacement guarantee if lost or damaged –– even for laptops and smartphones.
It's not like I couldn't have opened my 20-page credit agreement and found all this information, but I, like most everyone else with plastic in their wallets, promptly tossed that packet into my mail pile at home and forgot about it.
I also found out I have luggage replacement guaranteed up to $3,000 and roadside car assistance (so long, AAA ), and traveler's insurance.
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