Travel credit cards can insure unexpected expenses and save you money. Here’s how

If you’re trying to save on summer travel, don’t overlook travel insurance on credit cards.

A WalletHub survey on credit card travel benefits found inflation would make 34% of Americans increase use of their credit card travel benefits. Still, almost half said they aren’t taking full advantage of the benefits that come with their card, “which means we’re also wasting time and money,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said in a news release. “People know there are untapped values ​​that can help make ends meet.”

What benefits can you get with your credit card?

You should make sure to look at your policy details before traveling because coverage amounts and restrictions vary, according to a WalletHub study on the best travel credit cards with travel insurance.

Typically, cards offer benefits such as:

  • Travel accident insurance

  • Luggage insurance

  • Trip delay or cancellation reimbursement

  • Travel emergency assistance

  • A claims process

The WalletHub survey found 41% of people want trip delay or cancellation insurance from their credit card. That’s followed by 26% who want accident insurance, 20% who want rental car insurance and 13% who want airport lounge access.

While some companies have gotten rid of rental car insurance, the survey found 60% of people trust the insurance provided by their credit card rather than the rental company.

“For a credit card’s rental car insurance to work, you need to decline the rental company’s collision damage waiver,” Gonzalez said, “and not having a plan could lead to impulsive mistakes when you check out.”

WalletHub found your rental car insurance policy typically includes these categories:

  • Type of coverage

  • Coverage amount

  • Maximum coverage duration

  • Vehicle exclusions

  • Country exclusions

  • Loss of use and personal insurance deductible

  • Towing costs

  • Tire and rim damage

  • Claims process and limits.

What should you watch out for?

It’s possible you could have problems with customer service while traveling. The survey found 3 in 10 people reported credit card customer service was not helpful when they were traveling.

“The chances of a bad experience are fairly low, but people who want to minimize the potential for issues should make sure they have all the information they need before leaving and tell the credit card company about their travel plans so they won’t have to deal with customer service while traveling,” Gonzalez said.

What to consider for a travel credit card

If you’re looking at getting a credit card to save you money while traveling, WalletHub experts recommend that you compare the cost of the card (its fees) to the rewards and benefits you can earn. You should also compare it to other credit card offers. Lots of travel credit cards charge annual fees, but that can balance out when you look at the potential rewards or bonuses.

You should make sure the options you have for redemption, such as airfare or gift cards, work for you.

Do you have a favorite airline or hotel chain? You can get value from co-branded credit cards. However, that might also lose you flexibility on redemption.

And last: if you’re traveling internationally, make sure there’s no foreign transaction fee. Those can add up quickly.

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