Consumers are cutting expenses at every turn. This likely has something to do with over half of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck. Rewards programs from credit cards are a way to cut back on spending, with Visa Rewards being one of the most popular programs among consumers and business owners alike.
Despite its popularity, many consumers don’t know how to make the most of their Visa Rewards points according to a recent study from J. D. Powers.
J. D. Powers reports that only 59% of consumers fully understand how to earn reward points. 33% of credit cardholders didn’t even know their benefit plan existed.
Here’s a thorough guide to help eliminate the confusion and aid you in making the most of your Visa Rewards cards and programs.
The Complete Guide To Visa Rewards
Let’s begin by understanding how Visa Rewards work. They’re an example of the rising trend of cash back rewards credit cards that have been gaining in popularity in the last decade.
What Are Visa Rewards?
Cashback rewards programs offer incentives to consumers for certain products and services. The issuing company will refund a certain amount of the total spent by the consumer as an incentive when they use the card and payback their balance.
The typical rewards rate is between .5% – 2%, although it can sometimes be higher. Rewards may be applied directly to their account balance or as a cash payment. Products and services can also be a form of Visa Rewards.
Visa Rewards have been gaining in popularity since 2012 due to the high price of commodities like gas. They’ve become a part of the financial landscape and can be a wonderful tool in the financial toolbox for responsible consumers.
Visa Rewards programs come in various shapes and sizes. We’ll focus on the Visa Signature rewards program to help you gain a better understanding of how rewards programs work.
Understanding How Visa Signature Cards Work
The Visa Signature program is a collaboration between Visa and various retailers. This partnership offers Visa rewards and protection which otherwise wouldn’t be available.
The Benefits of Visa Signature Rewards
Here are some of the benefits of Visa Signature programs for your consideration. We’ll also be looking at some potential drawbacks to help you decide which rewards program is the best fit for your financial needs.
Visa Rewards programs can offer some peace of mind for those who’ll be using their Visa Signature card to make major purchases. Visa’s warranty extension program allows credit card users to extend the manufacturer’s warranty by up to a year. This is applicable as long as the manufacturer’s warranty is three years or less.
Extended warranties can cover up to $10,000 per claim. Visa holders may claim up to $50,000 in their lifetime. Certain items are not covered by the Visa Signature extended warranty program, however.
Items not eligible for warranty protection include:
- Real estate
- Computer software
- Certain electronics
Claims may still be filed, but you’ll need to keep your receipt as well as the manufacturer’s warranty to take advantage of this program.
Things To Keep in Mind with Visa Warranty Extension
The Visa Signature program can only extend a warranty. It cannot improve upon the original manufacturer’s warranty. Visa will only cover circumstances protected by the original warranty.
You’ll need to prove that you tried to get your warranty honored by the manufacturer, as well. Warranty protection is free for Visa cardholders so there’s no harm in trying.
Offers Emergency and Travel Assistance
Visa Signature services offer peace-of-mind for more than just people who are anxious about the bottom line of their credit card bill. Visa Signature credit cards offer an array of emergency assistance for when you’re traveling to help ease your mind when you’re away from home.
The Visa Signature program offers emergency roadside assistance in case your vehicle breaks down or is in need of some other repair or service. They also offer legal aid if you’re in a pinch and away from your resources. Visa Signature even offers emergency translation services if you’re somewhere where you don’t speak the native language.
Auto Rental Protection
Renting a card with your Visa Signature card makes you eligible for additional coverage against theft and physical damage. It can also offer protection against valid loss-of-use charges as well as reasonable towing fees.
The auto rental collision damage waiver applies to expenses that aren’t covered by your regular auto insurance. Only cardholders that rent vehicles for less than 15 days in their home country are eligible for collision damage waivers, however. That number increases to 31 days for vehicle rentals in foreign countries.
Vans or vehicles seating more than eight passengers are not eligible for the Visa collision damage waiver. You’ll also need to decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver to take advantage of the protection offered by the Visa Signature program.
Your personal auto insurance may cover your rental car. The Visa Signature protection is in addition to your personal insurance coverage.
In the case of an incident, you’ll need to file with your personal insurance company. Visa Signature will cover the remaining damages.
The coverage from the Visa Signature program’s collision damage waiver only applies to your vehicle. It doesn’t cover damages done to other vehicles. Make sure your liability insurance is suitable to cover damages in case of an auto incident.
Reimbursement for Lost Luggage
Lost luggage happens. It’s as inevitable as catching a cold when you fly. Visa Signature has you covered, luckily.
The Visa Signature rewards program covers every insured trip for up to $250 reimbursement for lost luggage. Every individual can receive up to $1,000 in their lifetime.
The coverage only pertains to basic items like clothing. More expensive items like electronics or prescription glasses are not eligible for Visa Signature protection, as they could be covered by another insurance policy. It’s best to keep valuable possessions on your person while traveling.
If you possess homeowner’s insurance, you’ll need to file a claim with your personal insurance provider first. Visa will cover the difference.
Filing a claim with your insurance provider can raise your insurance premium. Keep that in mind while filing insurance settlement claims.
Roadside Assistance & Concierge Service
Every Visa Signature rewards customer is eligible for emergency roadside assistance coverage. Visa Signature cardholders can receive up to five miles of free towing. Visa Signature customers can also receive assistance with other basic roadside assistance like tire changing and lockout services.
The Visa Signature rewards program also gives travelers automatic travel insurance. Visa Signature cardholders are insured for up to $1,000,000 in case of death or injury in a licensed vehicle. You’ll want to make sure to name your beneficiaries on the off-chance of death or disability during a trip.
On a lighter note, the Visa Signature rewards program helps you find gifts for loved ones with their concierge services. You can call Visa’s concierge service 24-hours a day, 7 days a week for assistance finding gifts or arranging services for friends or loved ones. You’ll be responsible for all purchases, so keep that in mind.
How Not to Spend Visa Rewards Points
Rewards points seem like free money. It’s tempting to spend this money on impractical things, as it’s not coming out of your pocket. Free money is still money, however.
Don’t Spend Your Points on Company Merchandise
Almost every company that takes part in the Visa Signature program offers company merchandise that can be purchased using reward points. This is one of the single worst ways you can spend your points.
First of all, you’re unlikely to need any of their branded merchandise. Secondly, company merchandise is a terrible value. The average exchange rate of company merchandise for rewards points is one cent for every dollar of rewards points that are redeemed.
You’re better off saving your points for frequent flyer discounts or other special incentives that may arise.
Don’t Let Your Points Expire
There is no worse feeling than saving up rewards points for years only to find out they’re no longer valid when you go to cash them in. Rewards points are not evergreen, so make sure to read the fine print and see how long they’re valid for.
Most Visa Signature partners will keep your account open as long as your credit card is active, however. Spend some time with each retailer to find out their specific rules and regulations for redeeming rewards points.
The Visa Rewards program is a valuable tool for the frugal consumer. It helps you make the most of your finances, getting some of each purchase back to redeem for future purchases. With money being so scarce and cost-of-living on the rise, it’s essential to find as many ways to save pennies when possible.
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