You probably already know that a travel-themed credit card can get you points towards your next trip. But unless you studied the fine print, you might not know about some common free benefits offered by many travel credit cards.
Check with your credit card to see if it offers any of these perks—and remember, you have to actually book your trip on the credit card for it to be covered.
Editor’s note: Specific credit card policies were correct at the time of writing, however, perks are subject to change so always check coverage with your card before traveling.
Most travel credit cards (even ones without annual fees) offer some type of travel insurance. The most common benefit is rental car insurance. If your card offers insurance for accidents and thefts, you can pay for your rental with it, and then safely waive the expensive insurance offered at the rental car counter.
Other common insurance benefits offered by travel credit cards include baggage delay, lost/damaged baggage, and trip delay/interruption/cancellation insurance.
The Chase Freedom Flex card, for example, has no annual fee but still includes trip cancellation/interruption and rental car insurance.
Coupons on Travel Gear
Shopping for a new suitcase or backpack? You might be able to get it cheaper if you let your credit card help you shop. Many credit card companies offer special shopping discounts to their clients.
Capital One, for example, has a free browser extension that will automatically apply the best coupon codes at checkout and also let you know when prices drop on products you’ve purchased or browsed.
Download Chase’s mobile app and cardholders can activate deals at select stores.
Airport Lounge Access
Free airport lounge access is a perk that you’ll typically only find in a travel credit card that has an annual fee (such as The Platinum Card from American Express, which grants access to Centurion Lounges but charges a $695 annual fee). Benefits range from two visits a year to select lounges to unlimited free access for the cardholder and multiple guests across a wide network of lounges.
If you’re considering signing up for a credit card for lounge access, make sure you check which lounges are included as well as any other rules—some cards have strict rules about lounge access (such as only granting lounge access within a certain number of hours before your flight’s departure or not allowing access upon landing).
Free Checked Bags
Hate paying a fee to check your bag? Most airline credit cards allow cardholders (and companions booked on the same reservation) to check a bag for free.
Some non-airline-specific travel credit cards will reimburse you for a set amount of travel purchases charged to the card each year, and you could use this to offset checked bag fees.
You’re likely to find the free checked bag perk on airline credit cards that charge an annual free—for example, you’ll have to have the JetBlue Plus Card (which costs $99 a year) and not the free regular JetBlue Card in order to get this benefit.
TSA PreCheck/Global Entry Credits
If you’re planning on signing up for (or renewing) your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership this year, check and see if your credit card will reimburse you for the application fee. This is a perk that is only found in credit cards with annual fees, but it could be worth it to get the card for a year if you’re already planning on purchasing a membership.
The Capital One Venture Rewards and Bank of America Premium Rewards credit cards are two of the cheapest cards that offer this perk (at the cost of a $95 annual fee).
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