Credit card companies quietly reducing or eliminating benefits

Several credit card companies have been quietly reducing or eliminating benefits that have been around for decades.

In addition to extras like points, cash back and frequent flyer miles, credit cards have long enticed customers with additional side perks.

They include:

Rental car insurance 
Roadside assistance
Price protection
Extended warranties on electronics and other items purchased with the card 
Travel insurance
Lost luggage insurance 
Hotel theft insurance
First dibs on concert, theater and sports tickets

According to the credit reporting agency Experian, Citi has reduced it's limit on damage and theft protection from $10,000 per claim to $1,000.  Citi's worldwide car rental insurance no longer reimburses cardholders for charges associated with loss of use of a rental car.

And, Citi dropped firearms, ammunition, jewelry, furniture, appliances and tires from it's Price Rewind and 90 day return protection policies.

Chase has eliminated price protection and return protection coverage for it's United MileagePlus Explorer Visa Signature cardholders.  Chase also reduced its trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage according to Experian

Earlier this year, Discover dropped it's extended product warranty, return guarantee and purchase protection programs.  Discover has also done away auto rental insurance and flight accident Insurance.

The credit card companies cite a lack of interest in the secondary benefits and changing demands of cardholders.

Newton, MA based financial advisor Jim Lowell is the Editor-in-Chief of the independent newsletters Fidelity Investor and Fidelity Sector Investor.

He agrees that only a small fraction of cardholders utilize the offerings but for those that do this could be a game changer.

"While the credit card companies I'm sure are going to be very clever in terms of how they are going to word the benefit of these new changes, it will still end up likely costing the consumer rather than costing the credit card issuer" Lowell said.

With so many credit card options available, especially for people with good credit it's wise to shop around for the rewards and benefits that best fit your budget and lifestyle.

If you carry a balance however, finding the lowest interest rate should be your first priority because in the long run the savings will likely outweigh any benefits you may receive.