Do you know that there’s more to credit card perks than just rewards and a large sign up bonus?

Sure, those two are huge part of it…

But don’t let those be the only factors you look at when comparing credit cards.

Things like the annual fee, the type of reward (cash, travel, etc), reward value, insurance coverage…and of course the cherry on top – perks – are ALL things to take into account in your research to get the best credit card for you.

Here is an inventory you can bookmark with 17 credit card perks you should take advantage of.

Drool-Worthy Perks

Think of credit card perks as add-on bonuses.

No, they’re not absolutely essential – neither is a 3-layer decadent dark chocolate cake – but they’re oh so delicious.

Unlike the cake however, where calories go to your waist…these bonuses go straight to your wallet.

Related: Monthly Best Credit Card Offers, Signup Bonuses, and Deals

1. Sign up bonus

Credit card companies know how to treat a new client.

They offer sign up bonuses in the form of points or cash to draw you in. Pay attention to the fine print however because before you qualify for this sign up bonus, you may need to spend a specific amount in a specific period of time.

For example, the The Platinum Card has a 50,000 point sign up bonus worth about $1,250 in flights if you convert your Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan miles. Or, you can use them to buy $500 worth of any type of travel you want.

2. First year annual fee is free

Yes, there are no fee credit cards…but for cards that typically come with annual fee – and waaay more perks – you could get the first year fee waived without even asking.

For example, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite tend to waive it a couple times a year during promotions.

Check in on your favourite card from time to time and see if they’re waiving the fee. You can always call them and ask them to waive it for a year yourself too.

3. Extra cards are free

For those living with a partner, a spouse, or a dependent old enough (and you can trust enough) – you can share your credit card with you as the primary holder. At no extra charge.

You might think this one is a given, but many cards charge $50 or more just to add on a second person to the account, even though they they are just an authorized user and take no responsibility for the account at all.

4. Flexible redemption

Many rewards and travel cards lock you into a set list of things you can redeem your points for. Often there is only one reward that gives you good value for your points or miles, while popular items (like gift cards) rob you of most of the value.

Other cards allow you to redeem your points for ANY type of travel booked using any travel provider. True, with these cards a single point is only worth 1 cent instead of the 2.5 cents (or more) you can achieve with the best fixed redemption cards.

The upside is there are a lot less hoops to jump through, you can get the exact reward you want, and you can take advantage of big travel sales and savings when you spot them. No restrictions.

Related: MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard review – the best premium cash back with unlimited reward flexibility.

5. Roadside assistance

Many people pay for CAA membership, but you can actually get something nearly as good for free through a few credit cards.

Free roadside assistance is actually offered by 4 Canadian credit cards – 3 of which are from BMO:

  • BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard
  • BMO CashBack World Mastercard
  • BMO Shell CashBack World Mastercard

The other one is the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite.

6. Companion flight

A companion flight is when you get a free or discounted flight for a second passenger. This happens when the first passenger either buys a full-priced ticket or, in rare cases, redeems their points for a ticket on an airline affiliated with your credit card.

The downside to these perks is often you are restricted into buying a certain class of ticket, like business class, or a flexible full-fare ticket that has a much higher price tag. You can still save some money and get a better experience, but the savings might not work out to 50%.

7. Concierge

Get a virtual assistant to help you with travel arrangements, purchases, event tickets, and reservations just to name a few. Just give the toll-free concierge number a call and get instant help.

(Yes, it’s free.)

8. Lounge Access

Enjoy a sip of wine with some cheese while waiting for your next flight. Maybe take a hot shower. Relax in ultra comfortable seating. You can even eat a hot meal.

Airport lounges can offer all of that and much more.

Several cards offer access to airport lounges either for free or at a discount. Depending on the card, you could even have unlimited free access to a wide range of lounges worldwide. Some even let you bring a guest or your children at no extra cost.

9. Security priority

Going through security when you have a tight connection or you arrive late at the airport has to be one of the most stressful things.

If your credit card gives you access to the airport priority security lane, then you’ll be able to jump right to the front of the line. This perk is often only available at select airports in Canada, but it’s still a big time saver.

10. Priority check-in

Sure, you can check in online but there can still plenty to do at the airport when you get there.

Why not just check in quickly at the airport anyway when you can bypass the big lineup to get your boarding passes and check-in your bags?

Some credit cards give you access to the priority check-in lane, just like you were flying business class, with certain airlines.

11. Priority boarding

It’s nice to get on the plane and get settled first thing while there’s still plenty of space in the overhead bins and you don’t have to push past all the other passengers.

Priority boarding again allows you to be treated like a business class passenger and use the priority lane at the gate to get on the plane right at the start.

12. Free checked bag

Both Aeroplan and WestJet affiliated credit cards allow passengers to check one bag for free instead of paying the usual $25+ fee (each way) that most people have to pay. If you fly a lot, the savings here can add up fast.

13. Annual Travel Credit

Some cards, often with hefty annual fees and a massive list of perks, even come with an annual travel credit you can use to book any travel you want.

You’re paying for it with the annual fee, but if the other perks you’re getting make the annual fee worth it for you, then the $200 travel credit is a nice extra.

14. Cheap currency conversion

Changing money to another currency is expensive and time consuming because, if you are travelling, you often have to make an extra trip to exchange your money. If you get caught doing it in an airport, you can expect to pay through the nose.

Even if you do plan ahead, your bank is likely going to charge you roughly 3% to do it anyway. Most credit cards charge 2.5% in addition to a very small spread that the card issuer itself has to pay.

Some cards eliminate that fee completely, giving you nearly free currency conversion whenever you purchase (or return) something in a foreign currency. Other will give you a big rewards bonus on all purchases made in a foreign currency. If you shop cross border a lot or have a business that has a lot of foreign expenses, this can save you a lot of money.

15. Car rental discounts

Car rental discounts seems to be a pretty common perk that credit cards offer.

Check yours and you could be saving up to 25% off your rental at the rental counter.

16. Elite hotel status

Earning status in hotel and airline rewards programs can get you all kinds of perks like:

  • free meals,
  • late checkout,
  • discounted rates,
  • more rewards,
  • VIP treatment,
  • spa credits, and more.

Some credit cards will automatically bump up your status without even having to stay or fly frequently. Other times they will make it much easier to climb the status ladder. Worth looking into for any frequent traveller or vacationer looking for frugal VIP treatment.

17. Free hotel stay

There are a few hotel affiliated cards that give you a free night stay either when you sign up, or on a yearly basis if you spend enough money on the card.

That’s an easy $200+ perk in addition to the usual rewards you get – not bad.

What Perks Are You Missing Out On?

Many people just use their credit card for convenience and rewards without giving a second thought to all the included extras.

Clearly it pays to know exactly what perks and benefits your credit card offers.

I had a flat tire years ago…lucky for me the gas station was close enough that I was back on the road in no time. That free roadside assistance would have come in awfully handy had that not been the case.

Now that you know what kind of perks are out there, make sure you read through your card’s benefits booklet and all the fine print to make sure you’re not missing out on big savings and bonuses.

What if you come up empty and your card doesn’t have these perks?

Well then, it’s probably time to consider another card.