Traveling can be made much easier and less expensive if you know about all the benefits available to you. Some are right in your wallet and you may not even know about them. They are the extra benefits that your everyday credit cards carry. You don’t need to get out the magnifying glass to figure out the benefits. Here are 12 travel benefits to look for from your credit cards.
1. Concierge Service
Credit card concierge services are generally available via a toll-free phone call. You can use them before you travel or while on the road.
In most cases credit card concierge services are free and can help you locate a good restaurant, find a great hotel or discover events and attractions in a city you plan to visit.
2. VIP/Entertainment Perks
Your credit card may provide VIP entertainment benefits you had no idea existed. This could include free admission to a museum, notice or access sales events or even preferred seating or reservation access at a hot new restaurant.
Some cards provide access to members-only VIP lounges, backstage tours and more. Check benefits online or call the card’s toll-free number for customer service to inquire.
3. Special Discounts
Outside of the entertainment space, most cards offer discounts for a number of travel-related services or retail establishments.
This can range from discounts on car rentals, hotels, restaurants, stores and even airlines. In addition to checking with the card issuer, look for special promotions that come up from time to time and are available for a limited period.
4. Rental Car Insurance
Anyone who has ever rented a car while on vacation or business knows about the push to jack up the bill with rental car insurance. Before you hand over your credit card, check your credit card benefits.
If you use the right credit card to rent the car, in many cases your insurance is provided. It’s best to note any credit cards that provide this coverage and make sure you use them when you rent a vehicle.
5. Roadside Assistance
If you are driving your own vehicle while traveling, it might be a good idea to see if any of your credit cards provide roadside assistance. Coverage varies.
Some cards provide a toll-free number that will hook you up with a local tow service which you pay for. Others go a step further by reimbursing you a set amount after the fact. A few cover the cost entirely.
6. Airport Lounge Access
Airport lounges are meccas for weary travelers. Frequent air travelers relish the admission their elite status provides to those quiet rooms with comfortable chairs and ready access to airline agents.
Some credit cards offer free access to airport lounges, a perk that many people who have it don’t even know about. As always check the list of provided services on your credit card’s website.
7. Travel Related Insurance
Some card issuers go beyond the more traditional rental car insurance offerings. Travel insurance, if offered as a benefit can cover theft of luggage or items purchased while traveling.
Some cards also issue accident insurance that covers mishaps while traveling overseas or domestically. In some cases, flight accident insurance is provided. Other types of insurance include trip cancellation or interruption and even baggage delay insurance.
It’s important to note that most types of credit-card related insurance coverage require you to use that card to purchase the ticket, rent the hotel room, etc.
8. Foreign Transaction Fees
When they travel overseas, seasoned travelers know to use credit cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees, which can add up to 3% to overseas purchases.
If you don’t have a card that charges zero fees, at least make sure the fees are as low as possible. Checking well ahead of foreign travel may give you time to apply for and get a card that charges no fee.
9. Extended Warranty Protection
Many credit cards provide extended warranty protection and most credit card users only think of this as a benefit when buying something at home.
If you make a purchase with your card and take the item purchased with you when traveling, the extended warranty can quickly become a travel benefit. Make sure to take any proof of purchase required with you when you travel in case you have to file a claim.
10. Flight Benefits
Some travel benefits have nothing to do with credit cards but are related to your mode of travel. Take flying for instance. Many people do not know there are benefits to be had while on an airplane. Some are a matter of convenience. Others can save you money.
You can, for example, ask for the entire can of soda, even if the flight attendant only offers a cup with half a can in it. Other physical items you can request include a sanitizing wipe (to remove the last passenger’s germs); first aid items like Band-Aids or an aspirin; hot chocolate instead of a cold drink or coffee; a wing pin for a child; bottled water (instead of in a cup) and extra snacks if a small bag of pretzels isn’t enough.
Available services, depending on the airline, could include babysitting by a flight attendant while you use the restroom and even a tour of the cockpit (best requested while the plane is on the ground).
11. Free Currency Exchange
Did you know there’s an app called uChange that allows P2P “fee free” currency exchange between individuals based on the current average worldwide exchange rate? The app is available for both iOS and Android and, although membership is not widespread, it is growing.
The uChange app is advertised as vetted and safe and many currency exchanges take place in airports between travelers going in opposite directions with opposite forms of currency.
12. AAA Membership Perks
AAA membership provides almost too many travel-related benefits to list. In addition to well-known services like roadside assistance, travel maps, tourguides and TripTiks (route guides), many people don’t realize AAA has its own travel agency with discounted flights, hotels and attractions all over the world.
Depending on membership level, you may be eligible for free overnight shipping of replacement baggage if yours is lost or stolen along with reimbursement of personal effects.
Also, AAA offers discounts at thousands of car rental agencies, hotels, restaurants and more – not to mention reviews and ratings of most major available lodging and eateries.
Passport photos for certain membership levels are free as is an international driving permit. If you are a AAA member it’s always wise to look for the AAA sticker in business windows. Most offer a 10-20% discount.