Hidden Gems

Kristine Hayes

AS AN OBSESSIVE organizer, I like having everything tidied up before the start of the new year. I spend considerable time reviewing my finances and making sure my retirement plan is on track. As I was filling out my financial notebook this year, I added a new section: a list of lesser-known “benefits” I’ve recently discovered and intend to use more frequently in future.

For instance, after publishing a blog post about car ownership, a HumbleDollar reader suggested my insurance company might provide a more reasonably priced roadside assistance program than my current AAA coverage. A quick email to my agent revealed that I could indeed get roadside assistance added to my current policy for just over $10 per year—a savings of nearly $50 compared to AAA.

When I wrote about earning credit card rewards, it prompted me to take a closer look at the benefits included with my card of choice: the Costco Citi Visa. I discovered I have access to the card’s price rewind benefit. If I purchase an item using my Citi card and it goes on sale within 60 days, I can receive a refund of the price difference. I also discovered my card provides me with extended warranty coverage on many purchases, as well as rental car insurance.

Earlier this year, when I decided it was time to come to grips with estate planning, I contacted the employee assistance program available through my job. I was able to get a simple will, as well as medical and financial powers of attorney, drawn up for $150. In addition to offering legal referral services, the program provides other benefits, ranging from financial coaching to discounted gym memberships.

Amazon continues to impress me with the number and variety of perks included with its Prime membership program. In addition to getting access to thousands of television shows, movies, books and songs, Amazon now offers a 2% rewards program for members who reload their gift card balances using a checking account. The program is currently offering a $10 bonus for members who reload their gift card accounts with $100.

I frequently take advantage of Amazon’s free two-day shipping for Prime members, but recently I’ve had two instances when an item didn’t show up on the day it was promised. Both times, I sent a quick email to Amazon’s customer service department to tell the company about the delay. I was rewarded for my efforts with a one-month extension of my Prime membership for the first incident and a $10 Amazon credit for the second.

Kristine Hayes is a departmental manager at a small, liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. Her previous blogs include Keeping It Private, A Rewarding Experience and Driving Down Costs.

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