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But what about the things you may take for granted? The smaller things that come with almost any credit card?
Here are 24 basic features that almost all credit cards in Canada provide.
- 4 credit card security features
- 7 convenient credit card payment benefits
- 5 credit card features for easy account management
- 3 basic credit card perks
- 5 other basic credit card benefits
4 credit card security features
Credit cards excel when it comes to security and fraudulent transactions. All credit cards have a few things at your disposal to keep your account and money secure.
1. Zero liability guarantee
This applies to any purchase made to your credit card. As long as you have taken reasonable care in safeguarding your card (including your PIN), and report the loss or theft of your card immediately, you won’t be held liable for unauthorized use of your card.
This Mastercard page has a great explanation on what zero liability means for cardholders.
2. Chip and PIN transactions
All credit (and debit) cards in Canada come with chip and PIN technology. It’s a secure transaction, where you leave your card inserted into the pay terminal for the duration of the transaction, and enter a PIN as confirmation that you’re completing the transaction.
Having a PIN means your card can’t be used for very large transactions in-store.
3. Free replacement cards
Card lost or stolen? Does it simply not work anymore?
Credit card companies offer free replacement cards if something happens to your current card, so you won’t have to pay anything to get a replacement card sent to you, no matter where in the world you are (although it may take a while to receive it, especially if you’re abroad).
4. Standard chargeback on fraudulent transactions
As part of your zero liability, if your credit card gets charged without your authorization, you can request a chargeback, where the transaction will be erased from your credit card.
How this works depends on the issuer. Some will let you do it online, others will require you to call in. If you aren’t sure, just call and let them know what’s happening. If everything checks out, you’ll be off the hook for the transaction.
7 convenient credit card payment benefits
Credit cards can make payments easy. Here are 7 ways credit cards make for easy payments on your purchases.
5. Cashless transactions
With a credit card, there’s no need to head to the bank and pull out some cash. And you won’t get stuck carrying around a lot of change, then having to count it out when you go to pay using it (or letting it pile up at home).
A credit card makes cash a thing of the past, replacing the bulk with a slim, plastic card.
6. Worldwide acceptance, especially on foreign transactions
You can use your credit card to pay for any transaction worldwide, as long as the merchant accepts credit card payments.
This saves you from having to exchange currency, and from carrying around large amounts of currency when travelling.
However, most credit cards charge a 2.5% fee when paying for transactions that are in a currency besides Canadian dollars (although this can still be cheaper than exchanging money at a bank).
So consider a no foreign exchange fee credit card. A top no fee option is the
7. Tap payments of up to $250
For small purchases of up to $250, there’s an easy way to make your payments in-store. Most merchants offer tap payments, where you can tap your credit card on the pay terminal.
To protect against fraud, there’s an upper transaction limit, but it’s an easy way to make payments with your credit card. Just note that not every credit card offers them.
The credit card companies used to limit these transactions to $100, but with COVID-19 they have increased the amount to $250, to reduce people’s contact with pay terminals.
8. Mobile payments
With mobile payments (or digital wallets), you can leave your credit card at home.
Simply enter in your credit card information in your digital wallet, and you’ll be able to use your credit card without it ever having to leave home. You’ll have to check with your issuer which digital wallet you can use your credit card with.
One of the best issuers for this are Brim Mastercards, which can be used on all 5 digital wallets.
Want to learn more about how digital wallets work? You can learn everything about all 5 digital wallets here.
9. Pre-authorized bill payments
Many bills can be paid with a credit card, including things like your TV, internet, and mobile phone.
You can pre-authorize your credit card to pay for these bills. You’ll not only earn rewards on these purchases, but you’re also less likely to ever miss a payment again for these services.
One of the best credit cards for earning rewards on pre-authorized payments is the
Want to learn how to maximize your rewards by paying your bills with a credit card? Check out our guide here.
10. Easy online shopping
When it comes to online shopping, credit cards are king.
For many, it’s the only way you can make purchases online. It’s hassle free, and with the requirement of entering in both your billing address and the 3 digit code on the back of your card (4 digits on the front for Amex cards), they’re also secure if someone tries to steal your card or somehow manages to get just your credit card number.
Now, there are also Visa and Mastercard debit cards, which can be used online. But not all retailers accept both. Only credit cards are foolproof when it comes to online shopping.
Want to shop safely online? Here are 6 tips for a secure and seamless online shopping experience.
11. Pre-authorized payments for hotels and car rentals
When it comes to hotel rooms and rental cars, you won’t be able to pay for them unless you have a credit card.
This is because of pre-authorized payments. For hotels, even if you won’t be paying for your room until your stay is over, they’ll pre-authorize your credit card so they can charge you in case you fail to show.
For car rentals, they’ll also add a pre-authorized charge in case something happens to the car.
5 credit card features for easy account management
In today’s online world, it’s incredibly easy to keep track of and manage your credit card account. Here are 5 easy ways to manage your credit card.
12. Telephone customer service
Need help with something related to your credit card? Help is only a phone call away.
Call the issuer on the back of your card, and you can get help managing your credit card.
13. Online banking
For full control over your account, you’ll want to turn to online banking. You’ll be able to see everything you’ve charged to the card, see your past statements, view the rewards you’ve earned, and more.
It’s all a few clicks away on a web browser.
14. Mobile phone apps
Taking the online banking experience one step further, you can also view your account on your mobile phone.
Most of the issuers have a smartphone app where you can review your account in detail while you’re on the go.
15. Statements detailing transaction history
Once per month, you’ll get a statement from your credit card issuer, detailing every purchase you’ve made to the account.
For the type who likes tracking every $1 spent, it’s a great way to keep track of everything you’ve been spending your money on.
Many issuers also allow you to export your purchases, to make things easier to track.
16. Easy access to past statements
Need to see what you purchased a year ago? Thanks to online banking, you can go back and easily access your previous statements.
And you can go quite a ways back too. American Express for instance will let you see up to 7 years worth of past statements.
3 basic credit card perks
What are some basic perks that most credit cards come with? Here are 3 that are available for you to use.
17. Builds your credit score
Your credit score is used for many things besides credit cards – loan applications, mortgages, and even if you want a new cell phone contract.
A credit card will help improve your credit score. Make your payments on time, maintain a history with a lender, and you should see your score start to climb.
But the opposite is true too. Don’t pay your bill on time, and your credit score will see the ramifications of your missed payments.
What kind of credit score do you need to be approved? Here’s our detailed study on the credit score you need to be approved for a credit card.
18. Free Boingo Wi-Fi (Mastercards only)
For Mastercard holders only, your card comes with free Boingo Wi-Fi. Simply head to this page, enter your card number, and a free Boingo account is yours.
You can learn more about it here.
19. Access to more credit card network custom perks
The 3 major credit card networks have their own perks. Here’s an overview of what they have to offer.
For Visa Infinite cards, this includes:
- Visa Infinite hotel collection,
- Visa Infinite dining series, and
- Visa Infinite concierge.
Visa Infinite Privilege cards have all this, plus:
- benefits at Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver airports, and
- a Priority Pass membership, with 6 free passes included.
For World Mastercards, you’ll get:
- Mastercard Priceless cities,
- World concierge service, and
- World Experiences.
All American Express cards (including those issued by Scotiabank) have a couple of benefits available to all cardholders.
The first is Amex Invites and Front Of The Line. You can get access to advance ticket sales to concerts not available to the general public.
The other is Amex Offers. Cardmembers get access to all kinds of different offers to earn statement credits. Some are based on shopping with a single merchant, others can be used on different categories.
5 other basic credit card benefits
Finally, here are 5 other basic credit card benefits they all offer. Just note that for Amex charge cards, items 21 and 22 don’t apply.
20. Interest-free grace periods
On purchases made to the card, you’ll get an interest free grace period once you’ve received your statement.
Pay your bill in full by the statement due date, and you’ll pay no interest on your new purchases. Typically, it’s 21 days from your statement date.
Just note this doesn’t apply to cash advances or balance transfers – interest starts accruing on these charges instantly.
21. Ability to carry a balance
Can’t pay your balance in full? You can carry it with a credit card. Just be sure to make at least your minimum payment, and you can pay your balance off in the future.
Just note that you’ll be paying some high-interest rates for this privilege, which are around 20% for most credit cards.
22. Transfer balances from other credit cards
Have debt on other credit cards? You can consolidate all of your debt onto one credit card through balance transfers.
There’s a fee to pay for this – typically between 1% to 3% of the amount being transferred.
Consolidate onto a credit card with a balance transfer offer, like the
But there are rules to be aware of when it comes to balance transfers, so here are in and outs.
23. Ability to get cash from ATMs
Need some quick cash? You can get that from credit cards.
However, it should be a last resort if you need some cash. You’ll start paying 20%+ interest rates on your cash advances, and the interest starts accruing right away. And that’s on top of the cash advance fee your credit card would charge.
24. Easy to pay credit card bills
With online banking, paying your bill is quick and easy.
With your bank, simply add in your new issuer as a bill payee, and enter the amount you need to pay when your credit card bill comes.
Many issuers also allow you to set up automatic payments with banks as well, so you won’t even have to remember to pay your bill.
What’s on your list?
There you have it. 24 quick and easy features of credit cards. They’ll make your life easier, and cut down on trips to the bank.
What basic features do you like to use with credit cards?
Let us know in the comments below.
Here are some frequently asked questions about basic credit card benefits.
Do all credit cards improve your credit score?
Many factors impact credit score, but any full credit card that’s kept in good standing can help your credit score. Click here to learn more about your credit score in Canada (and how to improve it).
Do the credit card networks offer their own specific perks?
Each of the 3 major credit card networks offer their own specific set of perks. Visa offers the Visa Infinite program, for cardholders who have either Visa Infinite or Infinite Privilege cards. Mastercard offers benefits for World and World Elite cardholders, as well as free Boingo WiFi membership for all cardholders. And finally, American Express has a couple of benefits available to all cardholders.
Do I have to pay interest on purchases made with a credit card?
No, you don’t have to pay interest on purchases made with a credit card, provided you pay your credit card in full by the due date, which is usually 21 days after your statement date. You start to pay interest on any outstanding amounts after that day.