Everyone’s familiar with credit card travel rewards the more you spend, the more you get. The more you have, the more you can redeem for free flights and upgrades.
But travel cards offer so much more than just miles and points. Here are 5 travel card perks that can help save you a LOT of money while enjoying some time away.
1. Travel Insurance
Sometimes life gets in the way of our travel plans. Insurance is there to protect our investment, and sometimes our life savings.
But insurance can be expensive. Buy it at the wrong place, like when your booking your flight online, or at the car rental counter, and you could be dramatically overpaying.
The good news is, many travel cards already have you covered at no extra cost. Whether you’re looking for travel medical, trip cancellation, trip interruption, flight delay, lost baggage, or car rental insurance, never pay for extra insurance before you know whether your credit card insurance already covers you.
To give you an idea of the value of the embedded insurances, car rental insurance can cost $30 a day, trip cancellation can easily cost $75 per person, and travel medical can cost north of $350 for a family. So take advantage.
2. Lounge Access
We’re all familiar with layovers and flight delays. Why wait in a sea of frustrated humanity for hours on end, when you can relax in luxury.
While lounges used to only be available to frequent flyers, many travel cards now offer lounge passes as a card perk absolutely free.
In case you don’t know much about lounges, you often get free drinks, snacks, TV, Wi-Fi, comfortable lounge chairs, clean washrooms, showers, newspapers and more.
Lounge passes on their own can cost upwards of $50 a visit, so getting in free is both a bargain and a godsend.
So next time your evaluating an airline, Air Miles, or Aeroplan credit card welcome bonus offer, don’t forget to look for free lounge passes, it can make your trip a whole lot more luxurious.
3. Foreign Exchange
Credit cards can be the most cost effective way for you to exchange money for foreign currency.
When you make a credit card purchase in a foreign country, typically your purchase will be converted by VISA or MasterCard back to your home currency at the spot rate, and then your credit card company will charge an additional foreign transaction fee of 2.5% or more.
However, more and more travel cards are waiving the foreign transaction fee completely. That means you’re exchanging your money at the spot rate, which is the same rate that you’ll see in the WSJ or Bloomberg. It’s essentially the best rate available.
By comparison, if you decided to exchange your money at the airport, hotel or currency exchange booth in a tourist area, you might get charged a fee of 10% or more, over and above the spot rate. Even exchanging your money at your local bank branch will cost you 2%-3% above the spot rate.
So if you travel out of country often, find a card that doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees and you could save yourself more than you’ll ever earn in reward points.
4. Purchase Protection
We all like to buy a little memento when we’re on vacation. Sometimes, we find a deal on an item like sun glasses, or a watch. Other times we pick up local items like toys for our kids or piece of art for the house.
Unfortunately, when we travel many of our items are at their highest likelihood of getting stolen, lost or broken.
Little did you know that if you made your purchase with your credit card, you may be covered. Purchase protection will reimburse you in the event of loss, damage or theft for items purchased on your credit card. You may have to fill out a little paper work, but the benefit can be well worth it!
5. Fraud Protection
Carrying cash when you’re travelling is a must, since not all places accept credit cards, especially in under-developed countries. However, we wouldn’t recommend carrying too much cash with you. If it gets lost or stolen, it’s gone forever.
You’re far better off using a no foreign transaction fee credit card. If it gets lost, you can have one sent to you overnight. And if it gets stolen, or used without your authorization, the credit card company is on the hook for 100% of the fraudulent charges.
Those are just a few of the more common travel card perks you should be taking advantage of. There’s no reason not to save a few dollars where you can, especially when you’ve already paid for the privilege!
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