Credit Card Perks Can Be Your Ticket to a Cheaper Vacation

Benefits like waived baggage fees and primary rental car coverage could easily trim costs, even if you don’t have thousands of points socked away.
Claire Tsosie
By Claire Tsosie 
Edited by Kenley Young
Credit Card Perks Can Be Your Ticket to a Cheaper Vacation

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To splurge on vacation is human. To save is divine — and doable, with the right credit card perks.

Even if you don’t have thousands of points and miles socked away, the traveler-friendly benefits on your credit cards could easily trim costs on a summer getaway. Check your plastic for these valuable extras.

Waived baggage fees

With many major airlines, checking a bag costs $25 each way — but perhaps not with your airline’s co-branded credit card. These cards typically charge annual fees, but they also often pay for themselves by waiving checked bag fees for you and at least one person on your reservation.

Savings: $100 for a couple checking one bag each on a round trip

What to know: You may have to book the flight with your airline card, and typically this perk covers only passengers on your reservation.

No foreign transaction fees

If traveling abroad, opt for a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. That’s what David Rae and his husband did while traveling in Europe last year.

“We had three weeks of meals that we put on a credit card,” says Rae, a certified financial planner at DRM Wealth Management in Los Angeles. By paying with cards that didn’t apply these extra charges, which generally add 3% to international purchases, they saved plenty.

Savings: $30 for every $1,000 spent internationally, assuming a 3% fee

What to know: Foreign transaction fees can be applied online, too, when booking a trip through a website based in another country.

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Primary rental car coverage

At car rental agencies, "they definitely lay on the pressure” to purchase pricey rental car coverage, says Kristin Addis, CEO of the travel blog Be My Travel Muse. But because she uses a card with primary rental car coverage when booking, she feels confident about declining the auto collision damage waiver at the counter. “I just make sure that I understand what’s really covered” with the credit card policy, says Addis, who was traveling in Lombok, Indonesia, at the time of this interview.

With primary coverage, you won’t have to file a claim with your personal auto insurance for certain types of damage. Instead, your card will reimburse you up to a set amount. (With secondary coverage, your deductible may be covered, but you’ll have to file a claim with your auto insurance first.)

Savings: Around $10 to $30 a day

What to know: To qualify for coverage, you’ll need to book with a card that offers this benefit and decline the auto collision damage waiver at the rental counter. Read your card’s policy to see what damage is covered and whether exclusions apply.

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