It’s no secret that credit card rewards programs offer an opportunity to earn a bundle in cash back and other freebies. However, travel rewards cards offer extra benefits that cost you nothing but can be worth a bundle when you’re on the road.
Many cardholders aren’t even aware of the extra benefits they get with their cards. In fact, according to J.D. Power, while more than half of credit card users selected new cards for their rewards program, only 24 percent did so for their benefits. Consumers who ignore or overlook credit card benefits may be missing out on thousands of dollars worth of perks and services.
Here are 15 travel credit card benefits you might not be using but should:
1. Concierge service
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Sure, personal concierge service sounds a lot like fancy customer service. But there’s a reason you find this benefit on many premium travel credit cards. Concierge services can help you with shopping and researching, purchasing and sending gifts and flowers. They can also help you with directions and getting around unfamiliar areas, which can be priceless, especially while traveling abroad. Turns out you can also get help with a wide range of things even if you are not traveling, like getting dinner reservations, chasing down tickets to sold-out events, locating a big tub of nachos or even solving a difficult crossword puzzle, according to LifeHacker.
2. Price protection
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Cards with price protection typically allow you to register your purchases and then search online retailers to find out if the item is available for less. If it’s found for a lower price with a different retailer, you receive a refund of the price difference. When you think of price protection, you might associate it with big-ticket purchases such as electronics and appliances. However, price protection features such as Citi Price Rewind can come in handy when you use your card to purchase items for traveling. If you’re trying to get out of town, and have to buy things in a hurry — luggage, clothes, gifts, sporting goods — this benefit can provide some peace of mind that you will not end up overpaying.
3. Car rental insurance
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If you rent cars, you’ve certainly been offered car insurance from the rental company for an additional daily fee — which can run as high as $40 a day. But rental car coverage is one of the most common perks offered by credit cards. Many cards include collision coverage, theft coverage and even towing coverage if you pay for the rental with the card. This is an especially great option if you don’t have a personal car insurance policy that covers your rental (as most do).
4. Lounge club access
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Membership at airport VIP lounges can cost up to $500 a year, but travel cards such as the Platinum Card from American Express or the Chase United MileagePlus Club card that offer a discount or complimentary access can make it an option for travelers who are frequently on the go. Depending on the lounge, you could get access to complimentary food and drinks as well as amenities such as Wi-Fi and even showers, not to mention a comfortable place to rest while you wait for your flight.
5. In-flight purchase discounts
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It seems that everything while you are in the air costs money, and this expense can double and triple if you are traveling with family or co-workers. Cards with in-flight discounts help you save on snacks, drinks, entertainment and other in-flight expenses.
6. Free checked bags
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Although there are airlines that offer the first checked bag free, others charge from $25 to $50 per bag, per flight. Instead of trying to stuff all your belongings in a carry-on, consider a card that gives you free checked bags when you fly.
7. Lost and delayed baggage
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Baggage is frequently lost or delayed, which can be an ordeal. If your card includes coverage for lost and delayed baggage, you could get reimbursed for the items you need until your baggage is recovered. This can be a lifesaver when you would otherwise be stranded and without clean clothes and toiletries. This is just one of the valuable travel benefits you get with cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
8. Travel accident insurance
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Although this is a benefit you hope you don’t need, it is important that you know you are protected in the event you or a family member is injured or hurt on an airplane, ship or train. Many cards offer travel accident insurance for travelers whose transportation tickets are charged to the credit card. Coverage can range from $100,000 to $1 million, depending on the credit card issuer.
9. Trip cancellation insurance
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Have you ever had an emergency that forced you to cancel a trip? In situations like this, trip cancellation insurance can prevent you from losing the money you spent on nonrefundable airfare and hotel reservations. The only requirement is usually that you have purchased your tickets with the credit card that carries the insurance. The Citi Prestige Card is just one travel credit card that offers this insurance.
10. Airline fee credits
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If you travel, you’re already familiar with the little fees that can add up along the way. Some credit cards include an airline fee credit that you can use for those small purchases like luggage fees, seat fees and even in-flight snacks. This credit can save you hundreds of dollars. Check your card’s terms to see if it offers this credit.
11. Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
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The U.S. government programs Global Entry and TSA PreCheck provide shortcuts through airport and border security for low-risk travelers, allowing them to avoid long lines. Many travel rewards cards now offer credits that can either pay for or help pay for the application fees for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. The Platinum Card from American Express and the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card both offer credits for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
12. Travel and emergency assistance
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When traveling in unfamiliar territory it can be difficult knowing where to go when you need help. Travel emergency assistance, provided by many travel rewards cards, can help you with referrals for travel questions, or even medical or legal emergencies when you are away from home.
13. Roadside assistance
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Whether you are on a road trip to a different state or driving in another country, you never know when you might run out of gas or end up with a flat tire. It’s nice to know you have this benefit available if you need it.
14. Protection against unauthorized charges
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There’s nothing worse than losing your wallet or having your identity stolen while you are traveling. Fortunately, most credit cards include liability insurance or protection against unauthorized charges. Although it doesn’t make losing your credit card or purse any more enjoyable, at least you won’t be responsible for any unauthorized purchases that are made after it happens.
15. Trip delay reimbursement
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Trip delays are usually out of our control. Trip delay reimbursement, however, can take the sting out of a delay by helping with expenses that occur as a result. While most cards require you to use your card to charge the expenses upfront and then issue a reimbursement afterward, it’s better than being stuck with the entire cost of the delay. This benefit can help cover meals, lodging, medication and other items you need while you wait, and is offered by cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Do you know what benefits are included on your credit cards? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.