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5 Credit Card Features That Might Come in Handy This Summer

May 1, 2015
Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards
5 Credit Card Features That Might Come in Handy This Summer
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Summer is coming up fast. Use your plastic to your advantage starting now to rack up rewards, save on fees and keep your purchases and trips protected. Here are five credit card features that can come in handy as the weather warms up.

1. No foreign transaction fees

If you’re summering in the Italian countryside — or anywhere else outside of the United States — a card with no foreign transaction fees is a must-have. Many cards charge about 3% on overseas purchases, so your $3,000 European excursion could cost you $3,090. There are better things to spend $90 on, so it’s best to avoid these fees when possible. Check out our favorite no foreign transaction fee cards if your current card comes with these fees.

Nerd note: If you’re traveling overseas, a card without foreign transaction fees is a good start, but there are a few other features you should look for as well. A card with EMV technology will keep your transactions more secure and allow you to make purchases from foreign merchants that accept only EMV cards.

It’s also important to think about acceptance of your card in the country you’re visiting. As a general rule, Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted payment networks, so if your card of choice is a Discover or American Express, look in to acceptance before boarding your flight. Here’s how to choose credit cards for your overseas trip.

2. Rental car insurance

If you’re planning a summer road trip in a vehicle other than your own, a card with good rental car insurance coverage is key. You’ll save money by not having to pay for car insurance through the rental agency, and you’ll be covered in case of theft or damage. Here’s the lowdown on which credit cards offer rental car insurance, and what type of coverage is offered by each of the major payment networks.

3. Extended warranty

If you’re buying a new home this summer, you’ll likely have a long list of big purchases to make. Keep your home purchases protected with extended warranty protection. Many credit cards offer up to an additional year of coverage on top of the manufacturer’s warranty. Check your benefits statement to see how your warranty policy works.

4. Rewards

Whatever your spending needs this summer, a rewards card can help you rack up free cash or travel. Most rewards cards offer between 1% and 2% back on your purchases, but many also have extra rewards for certain types of purchases — such as travel expenses, groceries or gas.

Choose a rewards card with either high rewards on every purchase or extra-high rewards on the purchases you’ll make most this summer and all year long. Here are the Nerds’ favorite rewards credit cards to help you get started.

» MORE: Why nearly every purchase should be on a credit card

5. Signup bonus

If you’re looking for fast rewards, there are plenty of credit cards with cash or travel signup bonuses. After getting a credit card, just make sure you hit the spending requirement to get your bonus cash, miles or points. You can use your bonus for an end-of-summer trip or shopping spree, or save your rewards for back-to-school shopping, holiday gifts or a winter getaway.

Bottom line: Your credit card may provide you with useful perks for your summer spending. Check your benefits statement for your card’s specific features, such as rewards, insurance coverage and extended warranty protection, as well as extra perks like signup bonuses and no foreign transaction fees.

Erin El Issa is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @Erin_Lindsay17 and on Google+.

Image via iStock.