Even if you’re not a frequent traveler, travel credit cards offer some incredible perks that can benefit anyone. The best travel credit card perks enhance both long-distance travel and local travel around your home city.
Maybe best of all, these perks can reduce some of the common frustrations and costly issues that come with travel.
Every travel credit card is a little different. But they all have great perks that can benefit you, no matter how often you travel. If you ever plan to travel – by plane, boat, train, or automobile – then read on for the best travel credit card perks you can get on the market.
Sign-on bonus points
Most travel credit cards offer bonus points if you spend a certain amount by a certain date after opening the credit card.
These points can range from 50,000 to 100,000 points. That’s some serious pointage.
I recently opened a Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. The bonus points were enough to cover my round trip flight from Washington, DC to Amman, Jordan this year. I’m amazed every time I think about it.
Worried that you may not spend enough to get the sign-on bonus? Then I recommend waiting to open a travel credit card until you’re about to make a big purchase.
I opened my travel credit card when I needed to replace my water heater. The cost of the water heater hurt, but the bonus points helped to ease the financial pain.
Other big purchases might include getting married, moving, or home remodels. By opening travel credit cards during these times, you get an extra bonus for the costs you’re already incurring.
Before opening a travel credit card, check out the sign-on bonus offers of multiple cards. You may find that one is offering a crazy deal. Here are some of the best travel credit cards to check out:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred (I have and love this credit card)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- The Platinum Card by American Express
- Capital One Venture Rewards
No foreign transaction fees
In my opinion, the “no foreign transaction fees” perk is one of the best travel credit card perks. This perk is what finally convinced me to get a travel credit card.
Some non-travel credit cards charge you a fee to convert foreign currency into your home country’s currency. This fee is usually a percentage of your purchase.
I never racked up huge foreign transaction fees in the past (less than $100 per international trip). But the very presence of this fee on my credit card statement frustrated me. So I finally took the plunge and got a travel credit card. Since getting my travel credit card, I’m no longer plagued with foreign transaction fees.
Rideshare credits or bonus points
Many travel credit cards offer benefits for using rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft.
If you’re a regular rideshare user, these can be some great perks, even if you never leave your home city.
Delayed luggage insurance
On a recent trip to France, I barely made a tight connection. My luggage did not make that tight connection. Through a series of unfortunate events, the airline didn’t reunite me with my luggage for five days.
During those five days, I had to purchase some essentials. Things like soap, underwear, and a change of clothing.
The airline reimbursed me for about 85% of my costs during that period. My travel credit card reimbursed me for the rest of the costs because of something called “delayed luggage insurance.”
With this insurance, the credit card company will reimburse you for any costs related to your delayed luggage that were not covered by the airline (up to a certain limit).
Not every travel credit card offers this insurance, so double-check when considering your credit card options. The credit card I used to book my flight (Chase Sapphire Preferred) had this insurance, so I was covered.
While it wasn’t great being without my luggage for five days, I was less frustrated because I knew my unplanned costs would be covered. In my mind, that makes delayed luggage insurance one of the best travel credit card perks out there.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
If you don’t already have Global Entry (which includes TSA PreCheck), this is something you need in your life. Imagine a life where you don’t have to take off your shoes before security. And a life where you don’t have to wait endlessly in customs lines (giving you the side-eye, Dulles Airport).
If you don’t have Global Entry yet or your renewal date is coming up, you can consider opening up a travel credit card with this $100 statement credit in advance.
Access to airline lounges
I was recently introduced to the gloriousness of airline lounges by my friends Suzanne and Jim.
First, imagine the chaos of an airport terminal. People running, voices raised, food containers everywhere, and 50 people waiting to use the only three outlets in the entire terminal.
Now, imagine a calm oasis, with a lovely buffet, open bar, and dozens of free outlets.
What is this oasis, you ask? This is the reality of airline lounges.
Access to these lounges is not just for the super frequent flyers of the world. With certain travel credit cards, you too can enter this oasis. The Platinum Card by American Express and Chase Sapphire Reserve are two travel credit cards that offer access to premium airline lounges around the world. And let me tell you, this is one of the best travel credit card perks available. Airline lounges will greatly enhance your travel experience.
Trip delay reimbursement
Another cool perk offered by travel credit cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve is trip delay reimbursement. If your trip is delayed by a certain number of hours (12 hours for Chase Sapphire Preferred and 6 hours for Chase Sapphire Reserve), you’ll be reimbursed up to $500 for meals and lodging during that period.
A couple of years ago, my flight from New York to Washington, DC was canceled due to weather and the next available flight was 15 hours later.
Because it was a weather-related issue, the airline wasn’t providing any reimbursement for meals or lodging. Rather than spend the night at the airport or pay for a hotel, I got a cab to Penn Station and took a train back to Washington, DC.
If I’d had a travel credit card with trip delay reimbursement at that time, I could have stayed comfortably in a hotel instead of taking the 2:20AM Amtrak train back to DC (which was not a cheap ticket).
I kick myself for those costly moments now. Don’t be like me. Get a travel credit card before you incur these costs.
Annual travel credits
The Platinum Card by American Express reimburses up to $200 in airline-related fees each year. This includes things like checked bag fees and in-flight food and drink. Chase Sapphire Reserve provides up to $300 in statement credits for travel-related costs. This would include things that show up in the “travel” category on your credit card, like airplane tickets, hotel stays, train tickets, rental cars, etc.
You’ll likely have these costs anyway during the year. So why not get reimbursed for some of them with these travel credit card perks?
Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
With this perk, if your trip is canceled or interrupted by severe weather or sickness, the travel credit card would reimburse you up to $10,000 per person (maximum of $20,000 total) for the cost of the trip.
Severe weather and sickness can be major bummers. But at least this perk gives you the peace of mind that your costs will be covered if your trip is canceled or interrupted.