5 credit card benefits that can protect your summer travels, from rental car coverage to baggage insurance

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  • If you’re headed out of town this summer, your credit card’s benefits could help pay for unexpected problems in the air or on the road.

  • Rental car insurance, which is offered on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, can save the day in the event of loss or damage.
  • Trip interruption and cancellation coverage, offered on the Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, may pay for hotels or new plane tickets if your travel does not come together as planned.


If your household is anything like mine, summer means travel. No matter where and how you plan to travel this season, you’d be wise to carry an elite travel rewards card with you. Credit card benefits that protect your trip can be worth thousands of dollars when you need to resolve the worst travel debacles.

Delayed planes, bad storms, lost luggage, missed connections, flat tires, and other hiccups are a major headache for most travellers. But if you have strong credit card benefits, you’ll be able to navigate these and other challenges with ease – and potentially a lot less money out of pocket.

Rental car loss and damage liability waiver

When you rent a car, the rental company always offers you its own insurance. This expensive add-on to your rental cost pays for any type of damage to the car while under your care. But you can save that $US10 to $US30 per day if you have a credit card with rental car coverage.

On most cards, you’ll find rental car insurance is referred to as a waiver or similar term. What it means for you is that you can skip paying for the insurance at the rental counter. Read how it works in your card’s benefit details before renting so you know exactly what your card covers.


Learn more:
Having primary car rental insurance can save you time, money, and stress – here are the top credit cards that offer it

Trip interruption and cancellation insurance

Not many cards offer this potentially lucrative benefit, but it can really make a difference if your travel plans go awry. I get this coverage from my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, though you can also get it from Chase Sapphire Preferred, among others.

This insurance will pay for things like hotels and rebooked flight reservations due to a wide range of circumstances outside of your control. The airline has to take care of you if your plans are interrupted due to its own issues, but not the weather.

I’ve had multiple overnights in the past due to weather and had to pay for a hotel or sleep in the airport. Trip interruption and cancellation coverage will pay for that hotel so you can avoid a long night in those uncomfortable airport chairs.

Delayed and lost luggage coverage

I once spent two weeks in Israel without my suitcase while American Airlines and El Al sent my bags back and forth between New York and Miami. After a couple of days, I ended up going to the mall and picking up a couple of outfits with the hope that the airline would eventually reimburse me. With a luggage insurance credit card benefit, that wouldn’t have been a worry at all.

The airlines are pretty good at getting every checked bag to the destination airport at the same time as you, but things happen. The latest statistics show 6.26 bags per 1,000 have an issue. The odds are less than 1 in 100 that your bag won’t make it, but if you travel enough it’s almost inevitable you’ll have a bag issue at some point. Make sure your credit card has your back.

Your luggage is covered with cards including the United Explorer Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Roadside assistance

Some higher-end credit cards include a full roadside assistance program akin to what you get from AAA for around $US40 to $US80 per year for the lowest membership tier. My car is in pretty good shape and I only seem to need help every few years. That doesn’t justify my paying for roadside assistance.

But last year, when my wife’s car had a slow leaking flat and our air pump decided to stop working on the same day, I was glad I could call the number on the back of my credit card and have someone out to fill the tire shortly. This benefit works differently on each card, so check your credit card’s benefit details to see if you have it and what’s covered.

This benefit comes from premium cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Platinum Card® from American Express.

Zero fraud liability

Your credit card liability from fraudulent charges is limited to $US50 by law, but most cards take it a step further and offer $US0 fraud liability protection. In a digital landscape where breaches and identity theft happens to more than 16 million people per year, this is a hugely valuable credit card benefit.

Nearly all card issuers in the US include this $US0 liability. That means you can use your card in stores, online, or anywhere else and you won’t have to pay if someone steals your card number or uses your card without your permission. Several of my family members have had their card information stolen while travelling. This protection meant they didn’t have to pay a penny.

Bonus: Credit card concierge service

Before you book that reservation to lock in your next travel plan, consider another credit card benefit that may be able to do it for you. Many cards include a concierge service that will help you with flights, hotels, cruises, trains, restaurant reservations, entertainment tickets, and a whole lot more. They will also do research on those travel options to help you choose the best priced or most convenient reservation for your trip.

Those concierge services work outside of travel too. They might be able to get you into an early ticket presale or see other exclusive deals you don’t. Plus, if you forget to order someone special flowers or a birthday gift, they can take care of that too. You don’t pay for the concierge and they bill anything you want to your card.

Many premium Visa and Mastercards have this benefit. The Amex Platinum also offers a concierge service.

Don’t get left in a lurch this summer

If you have a good set of credit cards in your wallet, you can travel with ease and shrug off any worries of things like lost bags or a missed connection. Those are mere inconveniences, not expensive catastrophes, when you’re well equipped to handle them.

If you’re not sure what your card covers, take a look at the thick packet of details that came with the card when it was new or search online for the latest version. You could be pleasantly surprised to find out that you have these benefits already. If not, it might be time to upgrade to a card that better fits your needs.

See our picks for the best rewards credit cards.

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