I have 26 credit cards and travel more than 4 months out of the year. These are the perks I value the most

Courtesy of Holly JohnsonHolly Johnson.
  • Holly Johnson has 26 credit cards, many of which offer superior perks and consumer protections.

  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership is probably her favourite perk, since it lets Johnson access over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide.
 It’s available through cards like the Hilton Honours Aspire Card from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
  • If you travel often and have a premier travel credit card, you may find the credit card perks as just as valuable as the points or miles you earn.

Throughout all of 2019, my husband and I have over 17 weeks of travel behind us or on the books. We’re taking a few different cruises throughout the Caribbean and around Europe, and we have land-based trips in Italy, Denmark, Puerto Rico, England and Scotland, Washington D.C., and more.

While we pay for some of our trips in cash, we cover a lot of our flights and miscellaneous travel expenses with points and miles earned from our favourite travel credit cards. So yes, we do spend a lot of money on travel, but the rewards we earn help us stretch our travel budget as far as it can go.

The thing is, I value some of our credit card perks nearly as much as the rewards we earn. While some of the benefits we receive from credit cards help us travel more comfortably, others help us save money or feel more secure.

Here are my absolute favourite credit card benefits and the ones I use the most:

Airport lounge membership

We fly quite a bit as a family, and we often endure long layovers due to the large distances we travel. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I love the fact that we have Priority Pass Select airport lounge access through our Chase Sapphire Reserve and Hilton Honours Aspire Card from American Express.

This membership allows us (and two guests apiece) to enter over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide. We recently used this benefit with friends when we wound up with three hours to wait at the airport in Venice, Italy, and again in Copenhagen, Denmark where we had a few hours to wait around with our kids.

It’s amazing to have a quiet place to retreat with free internet access, snacks, and drinks. While airport lounge amenities vary, they all let you get away from the loud airport gates to enjoy a few hours in peace and quiet.

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance

Whenever I book airfare, cruises, or most other types of travel, I use my Chase Sapphire Reserve in order to take advantage of the trip cancellation/interruption benefit I receive.

Believe it or not, this card comes with up to $US10,000 in this coverage per person, and up to $US20,000 in coverage per trip. You do, however, need to pay your common carrier fare with your card in order to qualify.

Read more:
Passengers slept on the floor of JFK when the airline didn’t put them up during an 18-hour delay – but your credit card can keep that from happening to you

No foreign transaction fees

Most of my travel is outside the United States, so I make it a point to carry credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees. This perk alone saves me from paying an additional 3% on average for each purchase I make abroad. My favourite cards with no foreign transaction fees are my Chase Sapphire Reserve and my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard (the latter is no longer open to new applicants).

Transfers to airlines and hotels

Another one of my favourite credit card perks is the ability to transfer points to airline and hotel loyalty programs. This is huge for me since I tend to get the most value out of airline programs specifically.

My favourite cards that let me transfer points are my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and my Citi Premier℠ Card. Both let me transfer points to my favourite program for flights to Europe (Air France/Flying Blue), and Chase cards offer more of my favourite transfer partners include Southwest Airlines and United MileagePlus.

Airline credits and free checked bags

Finally, I love credit cards that offer airline-related perks I can actually use. A good example is the annual airline fee credit I get with my Hilton Aspire Card from American Express. This $US250 credit can be used for baggage fees, on-board food and beverage expenses, and other airline-related travel incidentals.

I also fly Delta a lot, so I lean on my Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express for benefits like Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding and a first checked bag free. The perks help make travel a more rewarding experience, and I get to save money along the way.

Curious which credit cards I use the most and why? Here are some of my favourites:

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