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Discover to Discontinue Some Travel Benefits Aug. 1

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Discover to Discontinue Some Travel Benefits Aug. 1

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Attention Discover cardholders: Some of your card’s travel benefits may be on the way out.

In a recent letter, the company said, “Effective August 1, 2015, Discover card will discontinue the following benefits: 24/7 Travel Assistance, Baggage Delay Insurance, and Emergency Roadside Assistance.”

Sarah Grage, a spokeswoman for Discover, noted that the company would also be ending MyConcierge, travel delay insurance and lost luggage insurance. Discover cards will still come with services such as auto rental insurance, flight accident insurance, extended product warranty, purchase protection, price protection and return guarantee.

Some cardholders are upset by the news.

I don’t buy separate delay and baggage insurance when we travel because of the Discover benefits,” Cindy Lord, a Discover card member since 1986, tells NerdWallet. “I am disappointed to lose them.”

Alex Nieves, a Discover cardholder since 2000, has never used any of the services being discontinued, but notes, “It’s nice to have benefits like these for the rare situations you might need them. Frankly, I’m thrilled I never had to use them. But what if something happened and I did? Then it would save me a lot of money and problems.”

Alec, a 22-year-old graduate student at Iowa State University, posted about the discontinued benefits on Reddit. He tells NerdWallet that he has used these benefits, and “they have indeed saved my butt once. A United Airlines flight got in late, and my connecting flight with United left without me. They refused to reissue a new ticket or give any accommodation. Discover came in to save the day.” Alec adds, “I don’t think the change is big enough to stop me from using the card, but I also won’t be talking it up like I used to.”

If you, too, think you’ll miss some of Discover’s soon-to-be-former perks, plenty of other options could fill the void.

Visa and MasterCard’s travel benefits

Credit cards with the Visa and MasterCard labels come with several benefits that could make up for some of Discover’s losses.

For starters, most cards that transact through Visa and MasterCard include auto rental collision coverage, fraud liability protection, emergency travel assistance and extended purchase warranties.

Visa’s upper-echelon service, called Visa Signature, adds 24/7 concierge service (comparable to Discover’s MyConcierge), lost luggage reimbursement, travel emergency assistance and 24/7 roadside dispatch, with towing and locksmith services.

World MasterCard, MasterCard’s higher-tier offering, offers nearly all of the travel services Discover is ending, including insurance for lost or delayed baggage, travel delay insurance and access to a personal travel advisor, also similar to MyConcierge.

It can be easier to find some of these benefits by looking at the credit card’s issuer (e.g., Chase, Citi, Capital One) rather than the company that facilitates its transactions (Visa and MasterCard). Here are two cards that offer some of the services Discover is discontinuing, as well as other perks.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best travel credit cards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Travel benefits with Chase Ultimate Rewards

If you find yourself already missing the many travel-related features departing Discover, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card could help to ease your pain. This card comes standard with 24/7 travel and emergency assistance (e.g., if you lose your card or need cash), lost or damaged luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement and baggage delay insurance. The one Discover service the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card does not appear to offer is something comparable to MyConcierge.

Beyond travel services, this card gives users an unlimited 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Points can be redeemed for travel (airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises) with a 20% discount through Chase Ultimate Rewards, or transferred to several frequent flyer programs at 1:1 value. Of course, points can also simply be converted to cash back.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also includes a sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. All of these features come with an $0 for the first year, then $95.

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Visa Signature perks with 2X miles

Another worthy contender that fills some of the voids left by Discover is the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. This card offers all of the travel benefits that come with Visa Signature including, but not limited to, 24/7 concierge service, lost luggage reimbursement, travel emergency assistance and 24/7 roadside dispatch. Cardholders will also earn an unlimited 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, which makes the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card one of the most flexible travel cards on the market.

As with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, new applicants also have the opportunity to earn a sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel. Miles can be redeemed for travel purchases through Capital One’s onsite platform, or cardholders can make travel purchases normally and simply apply their miles toward those costs using Capital One’s Purchase Eraser. All these benefits come with an annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $95.

The bottom line

If Discover’s recent changes have you down, no need to fret. You can keep the travel perks you love with other cards. Find the one that works best for you, and travel worry-free.

Kevin Cash is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email:kcash@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: kevin_cash.


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