Travel rewards credit cards are an amazing way to get free (yes, free!) travel. A lot of travelers know about earning points and cashing them in for free flights or hotel stays. But there are other great travel perks many credit cards offer that you might not know about! Here are 5 of the biggest and most useful benefits you should be taking advantage of.
1. Rental Car Insurance
When renting a car, insurance is a requirement. It can also add significantly to the cost of the rental. Sometimes you don’t realize there’s an additional insurance cost when you book the car and can get a nasty surprise when you go to pick it up.
Quite a few credit card, however, offer included rental car insurance. This means that if you use that card to pay for the rental, they will cover standard insurance costs if you have a problem. If you take advantage of this included, no-extra-charge coverage, you can save a lot by opting out of rental car companies’ exorbitant insurance rates!
I used this perk on a recent trip to Scotland when I rented a car to drive out and visit my 1 square foot of land at Dunan’s Castle. Yes, owning that land means I’m technically a Lady with a capital “L” 😛 Public transport to Dunans was all but impossible but I did find a reasonable rental car. By using my credit card insurance coverage to save that added fee, I was able to fit the excursion into my limited budget.
2. Roadside Assistance
Not only do a lot of credit cards offer insurance to cover damage but some also offer roadside assistance to help with other issues. Flat tire? Out of gas/petrol? With this benefit, you can easily be back on the road. It saves the headache of trying to find local assistance in unfamiliar regions.
Some credit cards offer these services included, while others charge a fee if you actually use their roadside assistance. Be sure you know what is free and what is charged in your card’s benefits. Even if you do have to pay something, it’s still a perk to have help easily available.
3. Free Checked Bags
I hate checking a bag. I make it a deliberate point to pack light enough to fly carry-on only – no matter the season or length of trip. Besides the ease and flexibility of minimalist packing, I’m always conscious of the money it saves me in checked bag fees.
A lot of people, however, find carry-on only travel more challenging than I do. And sometimes, you really do have to check a bag. If this is the case, make sure you also check if any of your credit cards offer free checked bag benefits. You’ll often get a certain number of free checked bags or a certain dollar amount per year that the company will reimburse you if you use their card to pay the fee.
4. Airport Lounge Access
Looking for a quiet, comfortable place to relax while you’re waiting for your flight? You may think airport lounges are only for travelers with elite benefits or for those willing to pay the hefty entrance fees. This may not be the case, however.
Some credit cards offer their users free or discounted access to these oases in the sea of busy flyers. After a long flight or during an extended layover, airport lounge access can be an extremely nice benefit. So be sure to check if your credit card offers this!
5. Reimbursement for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
Check out my post comparing all the trusted traveler programs and find out more about them and which one might be right for you. Basically, they can speed up your wait time going through security and or customs. Not only can this save you a lot of time but also a lot of frustration.
The problem is, these programs can be expensive. They cost $85 and $100. But many credit cards, especially travel rewards credit cards, offer you reimbursement if you pay for Global Entry or TSA pre-check using that card. So basically, you can get it for free! Some of them even offer reimbursement for two people and/or allow you to use this perk to someone else. This is an amazing benefit.
While credit card miles are an awesome way to travel the world for free, don’t forget to check out the other hidden benefits that most people don’t know they have. Become an expert travel hacker and be sure to take advantage of everything offered to you.
*This post includes one or more affiliate links. I earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!) if you purchase a product or service through one of these links. Find out more here.*
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