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The best credit cards for travel insurance

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Barry Choi

Canadians are lucky to have publicly funded health care, but did you know if you travel outside of Canada that your provincial health plan doesn’t follow you? The cost of medical attention can be quite high in some countries. Think hundreds of dollars for a quick trip to the doctor, or thousands if you need to visit the emergency room. Fortunately, as long as you have travel insurance, you won’t have to pay anything out of pocket.

Usually when people speak about travel insurance they’re referring to travel medical, which covers you in situations where medical care is required abroad. However, other types of travel insurance you may need include travel accident, trip cancellation and interruption, delayed baggage, and lost baggage. It may seem excessive to have that much insurance when travelling, but trust us, you’ll be glad you have it if you ever need it.

The good news is that many premium credit cards offer a comprehensive travel insurance package as a standard benefit. To qualify for coverage, your account needs to be in good standing and a portion or the entire cost of the transportation ticket must be paid for using the credit card.

Here’s a breakdown of the types of credit card travel insurance we cover in this post.

Type of Credit Card InsuranceWhat Does It Cover?
Travel medical insuranceHealthcare costs in the event you (the cardholder), your spouse or dependents suffer an injury or illness while abroad that requires professional medical attention.
Travel accident insuranceSerious bodily harm incurred on a common carrier, such as a flight or train (i.e. medical costs associated with permanent hearing loss experienced while on an airplane).
Trip interruption insuranceReimbursements of purchases made during travel in emergency cases (i.e. if a connecting flight is cancelled due to a natural disaster and you require to book return flights, some or all of this cost may be reimbursed).
Flight delay insuranceCovers purchases that must be made during travel due to short-term flight delays (i.e. if a connecting flight is cancelled due to poor weather and you require a place to stay, some or all of your accommodations may be reimbursed).
Lost baggageThe loss of your luggage by a carrier, such as an airline or cruise line. Coverage is often capped and will not apply to all items.
Delayed baggageIn the event your checked-in baggage does not arrive on schedule, you may be reimbursed some or all of the cost of essential items you purchase in the meantime.

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The best credit cards in Canada for travel insurance

 

BMO Ascend™ World Elite®* Mastercard®*

Travel insurance details

  • Travel medical: up to $2 million for 21 consecutive days (under the age of 65)
  • Travel accident: up to $500,000
  • Trip interruption: $2,000 per person
  • Flight delay: $500 per person
  • Lost baggage: $750 per person, $2,000 per trip
  • Delayed baggage: $200 per person (12+ hour delay)
  • The full cost of transportation must be charged to the card for insurance coverage

The BMO World Elite Mastercard offers the full suite of insurance you’d expect from a top travel card, and in some cases, more. For one, it provides cardholders with $2 million in out-of-country insurance (versus the standard $1 million in coverage offered by most other cards). It also includes Personal Effects insurance as part of its car rental insurance package, so along with providing collision and damage loss insurance, your personal belonging in the rental car will be covered in the event they’re lost or stolen as well (up to a maximum of $2,000).

While at first glance, it’s disappointing that the BMO World Elite Mastercard offers no included insurance for people 65 or older, the optional insurance is actually quite good. For an annual fee of $249, those aged 65-69 get 31 days of medical protection while those aged 70-74 will have to pay $349. Despite the fact that you get $200 per person in delayed luggage insurance, there must be a 12+ hour delay before you can make a claim which is much longer than many other insurance policies.

See full insurance details for the BMO World Elite Mastercard here.

 

Scotiabank®* Gold American Express® Card

Travel insurance details

  • Travel medical: up to $1 million for 25 consecutive days (3 days for age 65+)
  • Travel accident: $500,000
  • Trip interruption: $1,500 per person
  • Flight delay: $500 per person
  • Lost baggage: $1,000 per trip
  • Delayed baggage: $1,000 per trip (4+ hour delay)
  • 75% of trip expenses must be charged to the card for insurance coverage

The travel insurance included with the Scotiabank Gold American Express is above average. The $1 million travel medical insurance lasts for 25 days, which is one of the longest coverage periods you’ll get. Your insurance also includes hotel burglary insurance up to $1,000 per person for accommodations booked in Canada and the US. Lastly, those over 65 will receive complimentary coverage for 3 days.

See full insurance details for the Scotiabank Gold American Express here.

 

Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card

Travel insurance details

  • Travel medical: up to $1 million for 25 consecutive days (10 days for age 65+)
  • Travel accident: $500,000
  • Trip interruption: $2,500 per person, $10,000 per trip
  • Flight delay: $500 per person
  • Lost baggage: $1,000 per trip
  • Delayed baggage: $1,000 per trip (4+ hour delay)
  • 75% of trip expenses must be charged to the card for insurance coverage

While the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite owes much of its popularity to the fact it’s one of the few credit cards in Canada with no foreign transaction fees, this card also features top-notch travel insurance perks. Similar to the Scotiabank Gold American Express, this card offers $1,000,000 in travel medical insurance for 25 days and $500,000 in travel accident insurance (as well as $1,000 in hotel burglary insurance). This card also has baggage delay coverage of $1,000 that kicks in after only 4 hours. One way the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite separates itself is by offering ten days of travel medical coverage for those over the age of 65, which is over double the coverage period provided to seniors by many other cards.

See full insurance details for the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite here.

On a side note that’s unrelated to travel insurance but may sway you to choose this card over the others on this list: The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite offers superior airport lounge access benefits with a complimentary membership and six free passes to Priority Pass lounges.

 

Meridian Visa Infinite* Cash Back Card

Travel insurance details

  • Travel medical: up to $5 million for 48 consecutive days (under age 60), 23 days (ages 60-64), 15 days (ages 65 to 75)
  • Travel accident: up to $1 million
  • Trip interruption and delay: $2,000 per person and unlimited coverage in the case of emergency returns after departure
  • Lost baggage: $1,000 per trip
  • Delayed baggage: $500 per trip (6+ hour delay)

Despite being a cash-back credit card, the Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back deserves a spot on this list for its stellar travel insurance benefits. The card offers up to a maximum of $5,000,000 in travel medical insurance with coverage for up to 48 days (respectively, one of the longest and highest coverage terms available). Plus, this card provides complimentary insurance for seniors up to 75 years old, which can come in handy if you’re travelling with an elderly person or are one yourself.

This card also offers all the other insurance perks that you would expect to find on a travel card, with $1,000 in baggage insurance and $2,000 in travel interruption insurance with unlimited coverage in instances you need to fly home early due to an emergency after departure. In one notable insurance perk that isn’t directly related to travel, this credit card is one of the few in Canada that offers mobile device insurance and will reimburse the cost of repairs to your smartphone or tablet provided the device was purchased on the card.

 

National Bank World Elite® MasterCard®

Travel insurance details

  • Travel medical: up to $5 million for up to 60 consecutive days (under age 55), 31 days (age 55-65), or 15 days (age 65-75)
  • No travel accident insurance offered
  • Trip interruption and delay: $5,000 per person
  • Lost baggage: $1,000 per person
  • Delayed baggage: $500 per person (6+ hour delay)
  • A portion or entire cost of the trip must be charged to the card for insurance coverage

This card’s trip interruption and delay, lost baggage, and delayed baggage coverage is on par with the other cards listed here, but the National Bank World Elite Mastercard stands out for its medical coverage. It has the highest benefit amount (up to $5 million) and longest coverage period for travel medical for all ages, including 15 days of coverage for people age 65-75. However, it doesn’t offer any travel accident coverage — this means you aren’t protected if you sustain bodily injury while occupying a common carrier, or while at the airport, terminal or station at the beginning/end of your trip.

See full insurance details for the National Bank World Elite Mastercard here.

Note: The Desjardins Odyssey World Elite Mastercard is another credit card that’s noteworthy for offering travel insurance coverage for seniors up to the age of 75 years old.

 

Scotiabank® American Express® Card

Travel insurance details

  • Travel medical: up to $1 million for 8 consecutive days (3 days for age 65+)
  • Travel accident: $250,000
  • Trip interruption: $2,500 per person, $10,000 per trip
  • Lost baggage: None
  • Delayed baggage: None
  • 75% of trip expenses must be charged to the card for insurance coverage

For a no fee credit card, the Scotiabank American Express offers cardholders with a noteworthy travel insurance package. Comparable to other Scotiabank credit cards, this card offers the same $1,000,000 in emergency travel insurance (although the coverage period is considerably shorter at 8 days). This card also provides $250,000 in travel accident insurance, though this is half that of what its annual fee alternatives offer.

While not strictly travel related, the card’s rental car insurance is also worth highlighting as it covers up to $65,000 in collision and loss coverage for 48 days – mirroring what several other fee cards offer. With that being said, baggage loss and delay insurance are notably lacking.

 

RBC Visa Infinite Avion

Travel insurance details

  • Travel medical: Unlimited for 15 consecutive days (3 days for age 65+)
  • Travel accident: $500,000
  • Trip interruption: $5,000 per person, $25,000 per trip
  • Lost baggage: $500 per person up to a maximum of $2,500
  • Delayed baggage: $500 per person (4 hours)
  • 75% of trip expenses must be charged to the card for insurance coverage

While the RBC VISA Infinite Avion card’s emergency period coverage is somewhat lacklustre at 15 days, its coverage amount certainly is not. According to the card’s terms and conditions, the maximum benefit for medical insurance is unlimited. Paired with a notably higher $5,000 trip interruption insurance and it’s easy to see how this card makes it on the list.

How to apply for a travel insurance credit card

Once you decide to apply for a travel insurance credit card, you'll quickly see that the process is similar to any other credit card application. That being said, there are a few particular things to remember:

 

Age and residency

To be approved for any credit card in Canada, you'll need to be both a Canadian resident and the age of majority in your province or territory. The age of majority is 18 in six provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan), while it goes up to 19 in four provinces and the three territories: British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, and Yukon.

 

Credit score

If you want to be approved for nearly any travel credit card in Canada, a good credit score is very important. Having a good-to-excellent credit score opens doors for you, and that's not just limited to credit cards. Mortgages, personal loans, and lines of credit are all music easier to obtain if your credit is in good shape.

A "good-to-excellent" credit score is generally considered to be anything from 670 and upwards. If your credit score is below that threshold, you may want to consider working to improve it before applying for travel credit cards.

 

Annual income

Similar to their credit score requirement, many travel cards that carry perks and insurance benefits will ask you to have a minimum annual income for approval. This can vary depending on the card, but most higher-tier travel cards require applicants to have a minimum personal annual income of at least $60,000 to be considered. This is something else to be sure of before you apply, as you don't want your credit score taking a hit after a rejected application.

 

Benefits of a travel insurance credit card

 

Significant savings

Using the insurance benefits included in your travel credit card can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on your trip.

For example, on average, insurance for a rental car would cost you roughly $30 a day. One a two-week trip, that adds up to a total of $420, which isn't insignificant considering all the other extra costs involved in a vacation. Factor in other insurance benefits on your card such as trip delay/cancellation, travel medical insurance, and lost/delayed baggage, and that's a lot of money you can save (or re-purpose for something much more fun).

 

Worry-free vacations

Perhaps the best advantage of having a travel insurance credit card is the feeling of knowing you are insured across the board when you're vacationing away from home. Not only do you get peace of mind, but you avoid the added hassle of having to acquire different types of insurance from different sources (your car rental agency, bank, airline, etc). With a travel insurance credit card, it's all included, and you can walk out the door knowing you're in good hands.

 

Drawbacks of a travel insurance credit card

 

Better coverage = higher fees

While you may enjoy excellent insurance coverage on your travel credit card of choice, it won't come cheap. Unsurprisingly, the better your protection is, the more you're going to pay in annual fees.

 

Your coverage is tied to your card

Another drawback of travel insurance credit cards is that, for any of this excellent coverage to apply, the purchases need to be made with the card in question. This means that you'll be putting all of your travel expenses on one card, so make sure that you've got  a high credit limit and the card you're using has excellent cash back or points value. That way, you'll at least get something back for all that spending.

 

Insurance (usually) doesn't apply to rewards

One thing that's important to keep in mind: in most cases, your credit card's travel insurance will not cover purchases made using rewards. That includes airfare, accommodations, and car rentals. However, there's exceptions to every rule, so be sure to ask your provider.

 

Travel cards are made for frequent travellers

To get the most out of your card's extensive travel insurance (and high fees), you'll have to be travelling quite frequently. Business travellers and retirees who vacation multiple times a year should feel that it's a good trade off, but if you're someone who only goes away for a couple of weeks every summer, it may not be worth it to pay $150 or more per year for a card that's only valuable during that time.

Find your perfect credit card in under 60 seconds - No SIN required

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself

    Answer some questions so we can personalize our recommendations - this won't impact your credit score

  2. Check your eligibility

    We confirm your eligibility with our partner, TransUnion. This will be a ‘soft credit check’ which you can see but lenders cannot

  3. Find your perfect matches

    We show you the cards you’re most likely to want and most likely to get

let's get started

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