Paying for a flight to a far-off vacation spot with a credit card not only earns you rewards points for free travel, but booking a flight with a credit card can also protect you with travel insurance.
From illness or a natural disaster interrupting travel plans to losing luggage or needing a referral for a local doctor while on vacation, many credit cards offer travel insurance for free to their members.
Here are some of the benefits they offer:
Trip cancellation insurance
If your flight isn’t refundable from the airline because you’re sick or have an emergency and can’t make the flight, then trip cancellation insurance from your credit card company may help. The insurance may also reimburse other travel expenses, such as hotel stays and tours.
Only about 15 percent of credit cards offer it, so call your credit card company first. Some limit cancellations to the death of an immediate family member or to a serious illness or injury that prevents you from flying. A few may cover weather-related delays, losing your job, and labor disputes affecting travel services.
Most cards offer up to $1,500 for trip reimbursement, with the highest at $10,000.
The average reimbursement amount for lost luggage from a credit card company is $1,700. To be considered lost, you may have to wait 24 hours after landing before you can be reimbursed for your luggage and whatever was in it.
The insurance provider may require receipts for expensive items, and it can be helpful to take a photo of your stuff before you leave for a trip.
Rental car insurance
If you’re renting a car during your trip, chances are you’ll be asked at the rental counter if you want to buy the extra collision insurance it offers. If you’re paying with your credit card, then you probably won’t need it because your credit card already provides extra insurance.
While not all credit cards offer this, it’s worth asking your credit card company about. Your auto insurer may also cover your rental car.
If your phone is damaged or stolen while on vacation, or even when you’re not on vacation, your credit card may buy you a new one. It may be limited to around $250, including a $50 co-pay, so don’t expect full coverage for a high-end phone.
Your monthly cellphone bill will have to be paid with the credit card to get the protection, and you’ll have to file a police report or other paperwork to prove the phone is gone. Don’t expect cash for a lost phone.