Many credit card providers offer complimentary travel insurance, which can include car rental coverage, flight delay, emergency medical, hotel/motel burglary and much more. While this credit card perk can save you from spending extra on separate travel insurance, you’ll need to pick a card that offers the best coverage for your personal needs. Before applying for a card, you’ll want to carefully read over the terms and conditions for the insurance coverage package – this can help you avoid any unpleasant surprises when you actually need to use the coverage.
The cardholder, their spouse or domestic partner, and dependent children under a particular age are typically covered under most credit card travel insurance policies.
A common exception is rental car collision damage, which often only protects the name on the rental agreement, and in some cases any authorized drivers.
Remember that you’ll need to meet a few conditions before you can make an insurance claim. Most providers require that you charge all or most of your trip expenses to your card, and you’ll only get a specific number of consecutive travel days when your insurance is applicable. Additionally, not all insurance will cover you both overseas and within Canada – some cards protect you when you travel to other Canadian provinces while others may not.
Generally, immediate family members are eligible family members. This includes your spouse and eligible children. Some policies will extend protection to more than just your immediate family, but it ultimately depends on the provider’s specific insurance agreement.
Most credit card companies ask customers to follow these steps to file an insurance claim:
Contact the claims administrator at the company’s phone number or claims website within a specified time period.
You’ll be sent a claims form and informed of any additional documentation needed for filing. Make the necessary copies and fill out the form.
Send your completed form and documentation to the designated address. Some credit card companies let you upload and send these documents online.
You usually don’t need to do anything afterward, though you can call or check online to monitor the status of your claim.
Is a credit card with travel insurance all you need?
It depends on your coverage needs. Your credit card might only cover a few areas, such as car rental and luggage delays. What’s more, most credit card insurance policies only cover up to a certain dollar amount per year or only a certain number of days abroad. Plus, there are plenty of stipulations in a complimentary travel insurance contract that you’ll need to meet such as paying for all or most of your trip on your credit card.
If you’re a frequent traveller for business or for pleasure – whether alone or with your family – a credit card might not offer enough insurance to effectively cover you throughout the year. In this case, you’ll want to supplement with other options like separate insurance or upgrade your credit card plan to a premium option if possible.
Compare by reviewing your insurance coverage needs along with your spending habits and financial needs. Here are some factors to consider:
Policy details. Does the insurance policy cover all the people you need covered while travelling? Does the offered coverage make the policy worth it? Or are there certain exceptions in the fine print that make the policy a bad fit for your travel needs?
Rewards. If a card offers good travel insurance coverage but bad reward earnings on your travel, the card might not be worth it. Ideally, a card should provide great value even if you don’t use the travel insurance coverage.
Annual fees. Does the card have a high annual fee? If so, the overall value of the included travel insurance might feel less impactful — particularly if you make good use of the insurance and other features.
Interest rates. Finding a card with a reasonable interest rate is helpful if you need to carry a balance over a certain period of time – like when you’re travelling. There are a few low rate credit cards on the market, however you likely won’t get the most comprehensive insurance coverage or the strongest rewards.
Additional travel perks. If you travel frequently, consider a credit card that offers great travel perks to make travel easier and more fun. This might include airport lounge access, concierge services, flight upgrades and more.
Foreign transaction fees. If you’re spending money overseas on your credit card, you’ll likely be charged a foreign transaction fee of 2.5% – which can quickly add up and cost you a hefty sum of money over the course of your trip. Instead, consider a card that waives foreign transaction fees.
Complimentary credit card travel insurance can provide the coverage you need in the event of an unplanned event or accident on a trip. But before applying for a card that offers insurance coverage, carefully plan out your travel and purchasing needs ahead of time to determine which card offers the best travel coverage and purchasing power for you. You’ll then need to read the fine print for the insurance coverage since there will be a few conditions you’ll have to meet before you can actually make a claim.
Frequently asked questions
It depends on your credit card. Many trip cancellation policies include common events such as sickness, injury or death of you, a family member or a travel companion. Usually government advisories, natural disasters and emergency medical conditions are also covered.
It depends on your credit card. Most insurance benefits work internationally, though some such as rental car collision damage insurance are subject to limitations.
A card with secondary collision damage insurance will only kick in after your primary insurance applies to the loss first.
Emma Balmforth is a producer at Finder. She is passionate about helping people make financial decisions that will benefit them now and in the future. She has written for a variety of publications including World Nomads, Trek Effect and Uncharted. Emma has a degree in Business and Psychology from the University of Waterloo. She enjoys backpacking, reading and taking long hikes and road trips with her adventurous dog.
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