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A credit card with emergency travel assistance can be useful if you find yourself in a difficult situation. Perks range from complimentary overseas travel insurance to emergency card replacement, but watch out for high annual fees.
Compare credit cards that offer emergency travel assistance
What is emergency travel assistance?
When traveling more than 100 miles from home, you won’t always know the resources that are available to you when confronted with an emergency situation. Credit cards with emergency assistance typically provide 24/7 phone assistance.
The credit card provider usually organizes these services with partnered representatives around the world, ensuring that cardholders can receive emergency assistance domestically and internationally. As an emergency travel assistance cardholder, these benefits are sometimes covered by the cost of the card. But in other cases, you’ll have to pay for third-party services.
What types of emergency travel assistance will I have access to?
Emergency ticket replacement. Emergency travel assistance can help replace lost airline tickets by referral to a travel agent, airline or other authority.
Referrals to translators. If language barriers are limiting your access to emergency services, you can request a local interpreter — which your card provider will organize either by giving their contact details or scheduling an appointment. Some card issuers can even provide you with an interpreter over the phone.
Referrals to lawyers. If you find yourself in a legal bind, your emergency travel assistance can also provide you with the contact details of qualified and reputable local lawyers and legal practitioners.
Information on foreign exchange rates. Your card provider may be able to give you official foreign exchange rates and the tax rates of the foreign country you’re in.
Information on customs and duty regulations. If you have questions regarding customs and duty regulations, emergency assistants can provide you with the info.
Passport and visa information. Stay informed about entry requirements on your next destination.
Emergency card replacement and cash advances. Request an emergency replacement card if yours has been lost or damaged. If you don’t have access to your funds, some emergency travel assistance providers provide cash advances or quick foreign loans.
Inoculation information. Get recommendation if prior immunization is needed for your next trip.
Lost item assistance. Some emergency travel assistance providers can refer you to the appropriate authorities. Or, in the case of complimentary travel insurance, organize emergency toiletry and clothing money or reimbursement.
Arrangement of bail bond. In the unfortunate event that you need this, your emergency travel assistance has your back. However, there are limits in place, which will be outlined in the card’s terms and conditions, and you’ll still be responsible for any other related expenses.
Urgent message relay. In case of emergency, the card provider can send a message to your family and friends.
Embassy referral. Emergency travel assistance can help you get in touch with the nearest appropriate consulate and embassy.
Information on preparing for a journey. Ask the emergency service questions before you leave regarding your departure times, flights, restrictions on items you’re allowed to bring or even your destination’s local weather.
Medical assistance. If you face a medical emergency on your trip, travel assistance can provide you with the contact details, addresses and office hours of local physicians, hospitals, dentists and clinics.
Most of these services are offered through the complimentary travel insurance included with several credit cards. Carefully check any prospective card’s terms and conditions before traveling overseas with it.
How does a credit card with emergency travel assistance work?
This usually depends on the provider. For services offered through complimentary travel insurance, contact the insurance provider and read over their policy documents. Complimentary travel insurance sometimes poses strict eligibility criteria — like not permitting preexisting medical conditions — so keep this in mind when considering your options.
For services offered directly through the card provider, review the information given with your card. They’ll also pose certain eligibility criteria and guidelines, which vary based on the provider.
How to compare credit cards with emergency travel assistance
Credit cards with emergency travel assistance have policies, terms and conditions, exclusions, amounts of coverage and restrictions that vary. Compare your options and confirm what you’re entitled to and covered by before applying. Some of the features to consider include:
What types of assistance are offered? The credit card provider will list the assistance options available to you, so take note of services that you’re likely to use during or before your trip.
What’s the annual fee? Most credit cards come with an annual fee, which you should consider to ensure that the cost doesn’t outweigh the benefits.
What are the interest rates and interest-free days per statement cycle? Comparing interest rates is one of the main factors to consider. If you usually pay your balance in full each month, you may want to consider how many interest-free days are on offer.
What’s the coverage limit? Different credit cards will have different emergency travel assistance coverage limits. Confirm what the coverage includes to better judge which option is right for you.
Are there any other benefits? Many credit cards come with additional features such as bonus points, promotions and rewards programs. If two cards offer equal features, these extra benefits may help narrow your decision.
What are the benefits and limitations of a credit card with emergency travel assistance?
Complimentary assistance. In many cases, you’ll receive complimentary assistance and coverage simply for using your card to pay for your trip.
Saves time. Seeking assistance in a foreign country can be time consuming and confusing. These credit cards will provide you with direction and assistance, helping reduce potential stress.
Promotions and rewards. Many of these cards come with balance transfer or purchase rate offers, which could save you money if you have existing balances on your previous card.
May have higher annual fees. Many of these cards come with higher annual fees than regular cards.
You must pay for your trip using the credit card. Part of the eligibility for these complimentary plans usually involves paying for your trip with your credit card.
Although credit cards that come with emergency travel assistance offer benefits to help reduce stress while traveling, consider all of your options and select the card that best fits your travel lifestyle and spending habits.
Traveling to another country can come with many unforeseen circumstances. This type of coverage can save you time and stress by reducing the hassles that come with seeking assistance in an unfamiliar place.
Any forgery, fraudulent act, false or misleading evidence will usually automatically end all obligations an insurer or bank has to provide you with assistance services.
Failure to contact the credit card provider immediately to tell them you need assistance. It’s your responsibility to pay for all costs incurred before contacting the credit card issuer.
Delays resulting from any cause or event not reasonably within control, such as civil war, natural disasters, terrorism and volcanic eruption.
This depends on the type of credit card program you sign up for and its policy. Some credit providers set different regulations and limits on the coverage given, so to get the most competitive deal, you’ll have to compare the various policies.
It’s also vital to note exactly what a credit card policy will safeguard you against before signing up for the policy.
Kliment Dukovski is a credit cards writer. He's written over 600 articles to help readers find and compare the best credit cards. Kliment has also written on money transfers, home loans and more. Previously, he ghostwrote guides and articles on foreign exchange, stock market trading and cryptocurrencies.
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