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Citi promotes Private Pass credit card perk

by Peter Andrew

Have you seen Citi's new television commercial, "The Ex?" It shows a man consoling himself after his girlfriend breaks up with him because he's boring. He resolves to become interesting by filling his time with exciting activities. He cooks with a famous chef, visits an art gallery and attends an Alicia Keys concert, after which he meets the star herself.

Credit card perks and celebrity experiences

The point of the ad is that all of these activities were arranged through the Citi Private Pass online service, which is open to all holders of Citi debit and credit cards. This doesn't just allow you to book dining, cultural, sporting and entertainment experiences, it sometimes organizes exclusive events, such as cooking with Giada De Laurentiis, and getting to meet your favorite performers or sports stars after concerts and games.

Citi is entirely upfront about its motivation for providing such perks. In the words of a company spokesperson, it "enables us to tap into our customers' passion areas and earn their loyalty." Nothing wrong with that: you get VIP access to some events, and the bank gets to keep your business.

Credit card companies and standard perks

You can see why Citi would focus its marketing on the telegenic experiences that its Private Pass service offers. But, in common with most big-name credit card companies, it offers other perks that are probably much more valuable to most of its customers.

Tens of millions of U.S. credit cards come with standard offers and protections that can save you serious quantities of hard cash. And yet many Americans may be missing out on these benefits simply because they aren't aware that they have them. For example:

  1. Suppose you buy a new mp3 player, and accidentally break it -- or maybe it's stolen -- two or three months later. Did you know that many cards will protect you against your loss?
  2. Or your dishwasher breaks down a few months after its manufacturer's warranty expires. There's a good chance your credit card offers an extended warranty that could cover you for up to a year after that expiration.
  3. Are you fed up paying for collision damage waivers when you rent cars? If so, check your card issuer's website. Many provide you with cover that allows you to decline those waivers.

Of course, you have to have paid for the product or service you're claiming for with the card that's offering the protection. And you need to check the issuer's relevant terms and conditions before relying on its cover. But it's these sorts of perks and privileges that often make credit cards by far the safest and best way of paying for purchases.

Extended warranties, purchase protection and so on may not be as exciting and memorable as meeting Alicia Keys, but there are times you may find them more valuable.

Published 09/26/12


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