Travel credit cards often have great signup bonuses and rewards, but they provided value above and beyond just extra miles: They often come with little-known and underutilized perks that can save you a bundle when you fly, stay at a hotel or book a rental car. We’ll break down the top 5 travel card benefits to help you on your next vacation.
1. Rental car insurance
Most travel credit cards offer built-in rental car insurance that covers you even if your primary auto insurance falls short. Rental car companies offer their own insurance, usually for around $15-$25 a day, but your credit card is probably providing that coverage free of charge. To see if your card is covered, read our article breaking down rental car insurance.
2. Travel insurance
Some credit cards also offer various forms of travel insurance, such as trip delay/cancellation insurance, lost baggage insurance and travel accident insurance. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers lost or delayed baggage insurance, travel accident insurance and trip cancellation or delay insurance. The American Express Gold offers travel accident insurance and a hotline to help in the case of an emergency.
3. Exclusive travel offers and deals
If you have a high-end card, such as a Visa Signature or World MasterCard, you might well have access to exclusive hotel discounts, deals on car rentals, and experiences. Visa Signature, for one, offers discounts on Hertz rentals and free wine tastings in Sonoma; the American Express Platinum gives discounts on hotel bookings and lets you bypass lines with Hertz, Avis and National.
4. Credit card rewards malls
Travel offers and exclusives tend to come from the card network – that’s Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. You can often get additional deals with your card’s bank – Chase, US Bank and so forth. Online rewards malls can offer killer deals like 10% off on Hertz, 5 points per $1 on Expedia and so forth. Check the NerdWallet discount finder for travel perks and free money.
5. Expedited security
Some airline-branded credit cards offer priority boarding and priority screening, but those perks aren’t limited just to airline cards. For example, the Amex Platinum offers a credit toward the Global Entry program, which lets you skip customs lines; Visa Signature cards offer a discount on the CLEAR program, which expedites security lines.
There’s more to travel credit cards than just the signup bonus – though that’s a substantial draw as well. But keep an eye out for lesser-known perks, as they can easily make up for any annual fees the cards charge.