Credit Card Travel Benefits
You know about the miles or points you get on each credit-card purchase— that’s probably why you chose the card or cards you use for travel. And you may know about the collision coverage most cards provide for a rented car. But many credit cards provide other travel benefits that you might not even know you have. Smart Traveler did a nice article on other travel related benefits your credit cards might have. They are excerpted here, with additional comments from me. Check out this list and call us to check on availability and best prices for travel for you. If you have a credit card benefit to add to this list, contact me at: 203-221-3171, 888-499-7245, email us at: email@example.com
Rental-Car Collision Coverage
Rental-car collision coverage is by far the most important travel benefit your credit card provides. If you rent with a card offering this benefit and the car is damaged during the time you rent, the card picks up whatever costs you can’t first recover from your regular insurance. All you have to do is use a qualifying card and decline the rental company’s outrageously expensive collision damage waiver (CDW). This benefit is worth big bucks: CDW charges can go as high as $30 per day, sometimes more than the base rental rate. All AmEx, Diners Club, and Visa cards, as well as most Discover cards and many MasterCards offer this feature.
Most card coverage is secondary, meaning it covers only what you can’t first recover from your regular automobile insurance. However, all Diners Club cards and a few MasterCards and Visa cards offer primary coverage, which means the card picks up the entire cost and you don’t have to claim on your regular policy. AmEx also offers primary coverage for an extra fee. Eva’s comments: Double check with your credit card company – different cards within AMEX offer different benefits. For my clients who travel overseas and rent cars, I would definitely look into the car insurance offered by my auto rental travel partners. Credit card travel benefits might not cover car rentals overseas.
Common-Carrier Lost Baggage
If you buy an airline, bus, rail, or other “common carrier” ticket with your card and then check baggage, Visa premium cards, most AmEx cards, and quite a few others cover you if the baggage (some cards say “luggage”) is permanently lost, stolen, or damaged. Typically, card coverage is secondary, meaning that you must first claim from the carrier. Coverage limits vary: The card may cap collection at a typical figure of $3,000, or the card may provide coverage of a claim that exceeds the carrier’s maximum limit. Some cards cover carry-on as well as checked baggage.
The catch here is that payments on most such claims cover only the depreciated value of the items lost or damaged, not the replacement value. Many of you would have a tough time coming up with $3,000 worth of depreciated value for what’s in your baggage. Eva’s comments: Check with your credit card company to see exactly what they cover and pay for. Depreciated value drops the value of the contents of your baggage considerably. Our travel insurance, Allianz, covers baggage delay at $200 – so you can buy yourself new clothes while you wait for your bag to arrive and lost baggage at $2500. This is excellent coverage!
Trip Delay/Baggage Delay
If your trip is delayed, a few premium cards offer a modest amount of coverage toward the cost of meals, accommodations, and various “essential items.” Coverage kicks in only after a specified time, typically as long as 18 hours after the delay, and reimbursement may be net of what you can first recover from your carrier. Once quite prevalent, this card benefit is now available only on a few cards. Eva’s comments: Again, check with your credit card company to see what and how much they cover. Our travel insurance, Allianz, covers $1,000 for trip delay and $200 for baggage delay.
Visa premium cards, most AmEx cards, and many others offer a somewhat slimmed-down version of the type of roadside assistance you can get from AAA if a car you’re driving runs out of gas, suffers a flat, or experiences a dead battery. But if you’re in a rental car, call the rental company first. Eva’s comments: Like a broken record, please check with your credit card company to see exactly what they cover.
Credit cards may provide a low-value trip-cancellation/interruption (TCI) benefit. The benefit is similar to conventional TCI, but when the coverage is “free,” the dollar limit is low. Only a few premium cards provide this benefit “free,” including Capital One World MasterCard, Chase Sapphire card, and several premium Citi cards.
Quite a few card issuers offer to sell conventional TCI policies at generally competitive prices. But that’s a convenience, not a benefit. Eva’s comments: Our travel insurance, Allianz, reimburses you 100% for cancellation due to illness, employment, death in the family. It covers all pre-existing conditions if purchased by the time of final payment of your trip. It also pays 150% of the cost of your trip if your trip is interrupted.
A few premium airline co-branded cards include entry into the sponsoring airline’s lounge clubs and those of its alliance partners. AmEx Platinum cards include entry into several airline as well as non-airline lounge programs. Where available, this benefit is worth big bucks. Although card-based entry privileges may be a bit below those of full members, you pay less for them. Regular memberships in big-airline programs cost around $500 per year, so even with the AmEx Platinum card’s annual fees of around $450, entry privileges can actually cost less than regular membership. Eva’s comments: This is an excellent benefit. The airport lounges are a wonderful way to relax, unwind, get a drink or snack in a lovely, quiet, uncrowded place.
A few premium cards provide arrangements with local agencies that fill the function of a good concierge in major cities: They can arrange sightseeing, tickets to local entertainment, tables at famous restaurants, and such. Some years ago, a credit-card concierge program scored tickets for my wife and me to a supposedly “sold out” Vienna Opera production. Although the service is “free,” you obviously have to pay for whatever the concierge arranges. Eva’s comments: Check with your credit card to see if this wonderful service is provided. Our travel insurance, Allianz, has Concierge service and 24-hour Hotline Assistance built into it.
Many credit cards provide referrals to medical and legal services wherever you are. Also, some cards facilitate local replacement if you lose prescription drugs. As with any concierge, all you get “free” is the referral; you have to pay for the services you use. Eva’s comments: Check to see what your card provides. A referral services means you will have to pay out of pocket for doctors, dentists, hospitals, pharmacies you will visit when traveling overseas. That costs big bucks. Our travel insurance, Allianz, covers all emergency transportation (often the most expensive part of an emergency is getting you to the hospital) to $1 Million and medical and dental coverage to $50,000.
Choosing a Card
If you travel at all frequently, it makes sense to use a credit card with a broad range of travel benefits. Start by checking the features and possible upgrade options of the cards you already use. If your current cards come up short, visit a credit-card comparison website such as LowCards. You can, however, compare the benefits of all AmEx cards on the American Express website and all Visa cards on Visa’s comparison website. MasterCard’s benefits are not as consistent as Visa’s, so you have to check each card individually. Discover includes only collision and accident insurance, and overseas acceptance is limited. Eva’s comments: Comparison shopping is key. As American Express Representatives, we give our clients all AMEX travel perks, including Pay with Points. Using their Reward Point, our clients have saved between $340 and $6,000. It’s a wonderful benefit that saves our clients a lot of money.
At Eva’s Best Travel and Cruises, we get to know you, your interests and desires and customize your trip. With our affiliation with Cruise Planners and American Express Travel, our wonderful team of over 350 travel partners, all vetted through American Express for their high quality and service, will match the lowest publish price and give you the most amenities. You will save a lot of time, money and frustration as we counsel and advise you on your dream vacation. Call us at: 203-221-3171, 888-499-7245, firstname.lastname@example.org, text us at: 203-554-4462, check our website at: http://www.EvasBestTravelAndCruises.com for travel news, tips and to sign up for exclusive weekly travel specials through American Express and Cruise Planners.
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