The right credit card can make all the difference in the world when it comes to bringing your travel dreams to life. You can gain valuable frequent flyer miles and make safe purchases overseas, which means gaining even more amazing rewards, enriching your trip, and inspiring the next one. In many ways, a good travel-focused credit card is like a second passport, opening doors and helping you leap over borders.
But a lot of people don’t know that the right card can also help you party like a rock star, avoid encounters with pickpockets, and protect your new camera, too -- all while saving you a pretty penny. Here are some often overlooked credit card perks that can take your travel experience to the next level.
Get Treated Like A Rock Star
Have you ever dreamed of having someone at your beck and call to give you insider access to a city’s best secrets? You don’t have to be a rock star -- or spend like one -- to experience this. Many credit card holders don’t know that they have access to free concierge services. Not just the concierge at the hotel (though you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to them for requests big and small). I’m talking about a call-in concierge service that’s free of charge for card holders. Concierge teams can provide dinner recommendations and make your reservations. They can help you find guides and local services and arrange for special experiences. And, if you really are feeling your rock starish best, they can help you with the once-in-a-lifetime dream experiences, like booking a hot air balloon ride or getting tickets for amazing concert venues.
Remember, your concierge is there to help you. There’s no budget too small (or, I assume, too big!) and in fact they might actually be able to help you save money by steering you clear of overrated tourist traps and suggesting discounts you didn’t know you were eligible for (like senior savings). This service can be hugely helpful if you’re unfamiliar with the language or culture in the country you’re visiting.
Give Your Gear A Little Extra TLC
If you’re investing in a new camera to record your travel memories, an e-reader for relaxing by the pool, or a lightweight computer so you can embrace the nomadic lifestyle, make your purchase on your credit card. It’s not just so you can get some bonus frequent flyer points. Most people don’t know that many credit card purchases come with special purchase protection.
Paying for electronics with most credit cards will double the manufacturer’s warranty for up to two years. That means if the store or manufacturer offers a 6 month or 1 year warranty, your credit card may double that period of time. That can save you an absolute bundle in the unlikely event that something goes wrong with your gear. And, in the meantime, you will pocket some extra money as you bypass extended warranty purchases in store, confident that your card has your back.
Put Pickpockets In Their Place
Whenever a friend reports a purse lifted from a cafe or some gear pilfered, it breaks my heart. Happily, it doesn’t happen very often, but that doesn’t make it any less upsetting. When you work hard and save diligently to purchase quality products, it feels like that gear is an extension of who you are. There’s a lot a traveler can do to protect their belongings, like using secure day bags and luggage. And now there’s one more way to fight back.
Many cards offer purchase assurance against loss, damage, and theft anywhere in the world for 120 days after you make the purchase on your credit card. Covered items can be repaired, replaced, or reimbursed, taking some of the sting out of your loss. This is different from extended manufacturers’ warranties and it is designed to cover horrible, bad luck, like theft or accidental damage -- not product defects. Read the fine print on this one; some policies require you to file a police report in the event of theft. Still, it’s a tremendously helpful feature should you drop your new camera lens or your new designer clutch goes missing en route.
Buy Pajamas And Perfume
Alright, I might be exaggerating a bit here. Maybe socks and sunscreen will be in order! But there is a way your credit card can help you when you need emergency supplies. If you check your luggage and if it doesn’t arrive at the airport, take heart. The majority of bags are reunited with their owners in a very short window of time. And in the meantime, you could be reimbursed up to $100 a day for essential supplies for several days if you purchased your airline ticket through your credit card.
Of course, no one wants to spend their trip shopping for new underwear and body wash, but when you’re tired, frustrated, and your bag is nowhere to be seen, it’s nice to have a plan B and know that you won't be out a lot of money.
Carousing And Cost Savings
When you pay for your rental car with your credit card, you'll often be insured if the car is damaged or stolen. Declining the rental car company’s collision damage waiver insurance can save you $20 to $30 a day. Many credit cards offer different forms of travel and medical insurance, but I especially appreciate the extra protection when it comes to having a rental car.
Paying for extra car insurance is one of those necessary but annoying expenses that can quickly add up to a big expense over a trip, yet I never felt comfortable declining it. I always envisioned some dramatic situation in which a car is ruined and then I am on the hook for a Cadillac. I know -- not the most likely of scenarios. But it is reassuring to know that I’m being responsible and frugal at the same time when it comes to car insurance, and tapping into my credit card rewards can make it even simpler and more cost effective.
What do all these perks and forms of protection have in common? You have to read the fine print! Each card’s individual policy is slightly different, and it’s important that you know what you’re entitled to and how to activate the service. But you’ll be glad you did -- there are likely more perks than you realize.