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Three Ways Your Credit Card Could Save Your Life

March 26, 2014
Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards
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Most of us use credit cards because they’re more convenient than cash and offer great rewards. In fact, it’s pretty tough to argue with the benefits plastic provides.

But have you ever considered the possibility that a credit card could save your life? The truth is that credit cards offer more than cool perks and ease of use – there are some very real ways that your card could help you out of a serious jam. Take a look at the details below to learn how your humble little card can act as a lifeline in a crisis.

In a medical emergency, your credit card can cover the bill

Dealing with a serious medical emergency is stressful, and to add to the anxiety most hospitals expect you to settle the bill before you head out the door. Since the average emergency room visit will set you back $1,233, you could be expected to cough up some big bucks. This is especially difficult if you don’t have insurance and can’t negotiate a payment plan with the hospital.

But this is where your credit card can swoop in to save you – nearly every emergency room in the country will accept plastic, so if you have no other way to pay for a lifesaving medical treatment, your credit card can take care of it. Even if you don’t have the cash to pay off the bill right away, your plastic can buy you some time to get the funds together while you heal.

This is one of the many reasons it’s important to be sure that you haven’t maxed out your card: You never know when you’ll need it. A good rule of thumb is to keep your total outstanding balance below 30% of your available credit at all times. This way, you’ll have some credit available if you’re faced with an emergency. As an added bonus, keeping your credit utilization low will also help your credit score.

If you go missing, your credit card could help find you

No one wants to think about the possibility that they could be abducted or go missing, but if this does happen to you, your credit card could be a key tool that the police use to find you.

If you watch crime shows on TV, you’ve probably seen the actors who play police officers track a missing person’s credit card transactions to figure out where they were last seen. The real-life police do this, too, but the process is slower than Law and Order would have you believe because they must obtain subpoenas to tap your financial records.

Still, though, if you use your credit card frequently, you could be creating a nice little trail for law enforcement to follow if they need to find you. This could be the difference between life and death if you’re in danger, so don’t dismiss the power of your credit card to help keep you safe.

If you’re stuck in a dangerous situation, your credit card can bail you out

We all do our best to avoid dangerous situations, but occasionally we find ourselves stuck in harm’s way and trying to get out. Once again, this is a moment that your credit card can come in really handy.

Consider a situation where you’re traveling abroad and a political uprising makes conditions so unsafe that you’re advised to head home fast. You’ll be glad you have your credit card when you need to book last-minute plane tickets; some cards even give customers access to travel concierges who will arrange your travel arrangements for you. This will provide great peace of mind when you’re scared and far from home.

Another dangerous situation your credit card could save you from is a natural disaster – if a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake destroys your home, you can rely on your credit card to book a hotel room while you figure out more permanent arrangements.

On a strange-but-true personal note, in the summer of 2012 I was driving from a friend’s house in Baltimore back to my home in Washington, D.C. when a violent storm suddenly struck. Visibility was so poor and the storm was so severe that I had to pull off the highway and book a room at the nearest hotel for the night. I had absolutely no cash in my wallet, so I’m pretty convinced that my credit card kept me safe that night – otherwise, I would have been forced to keep driving through hurricane force winds!

The takeaway: Credit cards are good for more than just airline miles and online shopping. It turns out that there are many ways that your credit card could save your life, so be sure you keep one on hand – just in case!

Life saver image via Shutterstock