12 Travel Perks You Didn't Know Your Credit Card Had

By Christa Avampato. Last updated 17 February 2017. 0 comments

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Credit card benefits aren't just about redeeming rewards for award flights and cash back. This is especially true when you travel. Pick the right card, and it could save you more than a pretty penny on your next trip. (See also: 8 Unexpected Ways a Credit Card Can Save You Money on Travel)

Here are some travel benefits your card may include that you might not be aware of.

Status Upgrades

Many co-branded credit cards for airlines and hotels offer automatic status upgrades in their respective loyalty programs. This allows you to enjoy additional benefits like room upgrades or airport lounge access, usually only reserved for those who have gained status through frequent patronage. (See also: Easy Ways to Get Elite Status for Free Hotel Upgrades)

Priority Boarding

One benefit that's increasingly common for cards geared towards travelers is priority boarding. Usually, airlines only offer early boarding for their first class customers and most frequent flyers. Your credit card can help put you toward the front of the line. (See also: Credit Cards with the Best Travel Perks)

Travel Rewards

Rather than forking over cash for your vacation expenses, let all the shopping you do every day rack up points that you can redeem for travel. Increasingly, credit card companies are broadening the number of ways you can redeem points. Use them for airline tickets, car rentals, hotel stays, cruises, and even that special evening out on the town. (See also: Best Travel Reward Credit Cards)

Companion Tickets

While increasingly rare, there are some credit cards that still offer companion fare deals. Some cards provide a certain number of deeply discounted companion tickets per year. Others give you an opportunity to apply your rewards points toward free or inexpensive companion tickets. Those who travel frequently as a family may find this benefit to be a huge money saver. (See also: How to Get Airline Companion Tickets)

Zero Foreign Fees

When you use a credit card abroad, you're often charged a 3% foreign transaction fee. However, more and more cards offer a 0% foreign transaction fee, and those are the cards you should be using when you're traveling. (See also: Follow These 5 Credit Card Rules When Traveling Abroad)

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance benefits come in all shapes and sizes on different cards. Some protect your entire trip in the event of its cancellation. Others will protect your luggage should it be lost or stolen while you travel. Some cards provide these benefits (including travel accident insurance) free. Before you book your vacation, check which credit card offer the best travel insurance for your needs, and use that card to make the purchase. (See also: 6 Types of Travel Insurance Your Credit Card May Provide)

Car Rental Insurance

This is a benefit that many credit cards carry, but it comes with a catch. Most of the time, credit card rental car insurance does not provide complete bumper-to-bumper coverage. It often excludes collision insurance, and there are usually high deductibles. Check your card's fine print on car rental insurance so you're clear on the terms and what's covered.

Airport Lounge Access

Delays are a commonplace occurrence when you travel. All of us have had that unfortunate experience that leaves us stranded on the floor of a very crowded airport hungrily searching for an outlet to charge our phones and tablets. Some credit cards provide free or discounted access to certain airline lounges complete with comfy seats, snacks, drinks, and plenty of outlets. Sometimes being a little more comfortable is all it takes to prevent a delay from ruining your trip. (See also: Best Credit Cards with Airport Lounge Access)

Fee Credits

Save even more with cards that offer fee credits on travel incidentals like checked bags, in-flight refreshments or even the application fee for Global Entry and TSA Pre Check. There's usually a limit so check your credit card for full details. (See also: Credit Cards That offer Fee Credit for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry)

Concierge Service

Some cards carry concierge services, meaning you can call the number on the back of the card and they can help with tasks such as travel planning, restaurant reservations, and special events tickets. If you need some last minute details taken care of or you need some assistance in an unfamiliar place, this benefit may prove very useful.

Global Assistance Hotline

When traveling, there's a high probability that something somewhere along the way won't go as expected. Given the current state of the world, you never know where or when you might find yourself in trouble. When you book your trip using a credit card that has a global assistance benefit, you'll be able to contact a toll-free number in the event of an emergency whether that involves a medical problem, a lost passport, or the need for an urgent translation.

Special Access

Certain cards provide you with access that may be difficult to come by for non-cardmembers. Heading to New York to take in a Broadway show? Want those hard-to-come-by concert tickets or a table at the hottest new restaurant in town? Many credit cards provide advance purchase opportunities and even reservations that non-credit cardholders won't have access to until later.

It's important to note that not all cards carry the same benefits, and benefits change from time to time without notice. The best way to find out what travel benefits your cards carry is to call the number on the back of your card and ask to be connected to a representative who specializes in travel benefits. Enjoy your vacation, and pack the cards that will make your trip cheaper and more enjoyable. (See also: Best Benefits Each Credit Card Issuer Provides)

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