Travel credit cards are a popular credit option because they allow you to earn points which can then be redeemed for flights, hotels, or car rentals. Usually, these cards will also offer enticing perks or benefits like free lounge access or no foreign transaction fees. But most travel credit cards have more to offer than just points and lounges. Many of them also include a suite of perks and benefits that are almost as valuable as free access to an airport lounge.
Below, we break down the five travel credit card perks that you might have overlooked – but that can offer incredible value.
1.) Using credit card points retroactively
First, we’ll start with a rarity – the ability to use points retroactively. This perk is offered by two of the best travel credit cards in Canada: the Scotiabank Gold American Express and the American Express Cobalt. Essentially how it works is that you book your travel first, and then you redeem your points to cover your travel costs after. Book flights, hotels, car rentals, or even a cruise on your credit card, and then once the charge appears on the statement, apply your points to that purchase.
The benefit of retroactively using your points is that you can book your travel on any airline, at any time, with no restrictions or blackout dates. You can use your favourite websites or deal finders, and once the charge shows up on the statement, pay with your points.
2.) Roadside assistance
This often-overlooked credit card perk can turn into a life-saver if you’re on a long journey and that tell-tale ‘check engine’ light starts blinking on your dashboard. Many credit cards offer roadside assistance, including the Home Trust Preferred Visa.
Roadside assistance coverage will vary from credit card to credit card, with certain cards offering towing within a certain distance only or a limited number of calls per year, while others offer unlimited distance towing and even accommodation coverage to the drivers and passengers.
3.) Mobile device insurance
Ideal for our more clumsy readers, mobile insurance, like that offered by the Desjardins Odyssey Gold Visa protects you in the event your mobile phone is lost, stolen, or even accidentally damaged. This credit card offers $1,000 in coverage if something happens to your cell phone. You’ll need to pay your cell phone bill with your credit card or purchase the device outright (such as a tablet), and you’re covered.
4.) Price protection/extended warranty
If you’re like me, you shop for the best deal on everything. If one retailer is offering the same item for a lower price – I’ll always choose the lower price, I am not brand loyal. But what happens if you purchase an item and suddenly the retailer lowers their price by $200? Sometimes they will honour the price drop, but other times they won’t. A situation like this is where price protection comes in. If your travel credit card offers price protection (like the Scotiabank Gold American Express), you can file a claim for the price difference.
In the same vein, the extended warranty perk will extend the length of the original warranty of most electronics, usually to a maximum of one year. The extended warranty typically only covers manufacturer’s defects, not damage.
5.) Car rental discounts
Finally, my personal favourite overlooked credit card perk is car rental discounts. This benefit may not be useful to everyone, but if you find yourself renting a car more than once a year, the savings could begin to add up. The amount of savings depends on the credit card, but you can usually expect to save between 5% and 25% on your car rentals. Most credit cards are affiliated with only certain car rental agencies, such as Budget or AVIS. For example, almost every Scotiabank credit card allows you to save up to 25% off base rates at AVIS and Budget locations in Canada and the US. You have to book the car rental with your credit card for the discount to apply.
While these credit card perks probably won’t sway your decision over which credit card to choose, taking advantage of them will make that credit card all the more worthwhile. Whether it’s scoring a discount on your car rental or remembering that you have mobile insurance as you stare at your shattered cell phone, these perks should not be overlooked.