Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst with Compare Cards by Lending Tree, a credit card analysis website. CompareCards.com
Bottom Line: You may not notice until you need to use them.
The credit card wars have shifted tactics as issuers compete to reduce benefits. In the latest move, Citi is slashing a long list of travel and consumer-protection benefits from several of its credit cards.
Citi isn’t alone—Discover and Chase dropped many of their benefits last year and other card issuers may follow. Few cardholders read the mailings from their card issuers closely, so many cardholders will learn of these missing benefits only when they need the protections and discover that they’re not available.
Disappearing Citi benefits include rental-car insurance, trip-cancellation/interruption/delay protection, baggage-loss/delay protection, medical-evacuation coverage, roadside assistance, price protection when an item’s price falls shortly after purchase and extended periods for returning merchandise. Affected cards include Citi Double Cash, Citi Prestige, Citi Premier and Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard.
Similarly, a number of Chase cards no longer offer price protection, extended periods for returning merchandise, lost-luggage protection and/or travel-accident insurance. And Discover cards no longer offer rental-car insurance, flight-accident insurance, merchandise-return protection, purchase protection for damage or theft and extended product warranties.
Card issuers say that they are dropping the benefits because relatively few cardholders take advantage. But much of the reasoning has to do with saving the card issuers money and figuring that most consumers won’t notice or decide to abandon their cards despite the change.
What to do: Check whether your credit cards still offer the protections you expect. If not, consider switching to a card that still offers attractive benefits. Examples: American Express cards have kept most of their perks. The no-fee VentureOne card from Capital One still offers rental-car and travel accident insurance and extended warranties. And with the benefits-heavy Bank of America Premium Rewards card, a $95 annual fee is more than offset by a $100 annual travel credit that can be applied to a range of travel-related purchases.