Everyone obsesses over credit card points, but in 10 months of travel I uncovered 6 other money-saving benefits

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    Taryn Williams in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, Chile.

    Julia Driscoll

    I traveled Latin America and Antarctica for nearly a year, and I was glad to have my credit cards with me.
    Benefits like hotel status, travel insurance, and airport lounge access made my trip cheaper and easier.
    No credit card benefits (or points) are worth it if you can’t pay your balance in full.

    Although a lot of the media around credit card benefits focuses primarily on using points, there are many other perks that aren’t as well-known and can save users thousands of dollars. From loyalty perks to insurance coverage to rental car benefits, there are so many additional reasons to use credit cards — if you do so responsibly. 

    I recently returned from traveling around Latin America and Antarctica for 10 months and was more grateful than ever to have my credit card perks and protections with me.

    Please note that I don’t recommend using credit cards this way if you don’t pay off the full balance each month.

    Below are some of my favorite, lesser-known perks.

    1. Hotel status

    Several of my cards — including the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card and IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card — both come with automatic loyalty status. The status isn’t the highest tier for either chain, but it still comes with a multitude of benefits.

    Both my gold-level Marriott and platinum-level IHG statuses have led to a series of free treats from brownies to fruit baskets. At a Marriott property in India, the company offered lunch to myself and my three companions when our room wasn’t ready upon arrival, and an IHG property in the same country offered me a free foot massage. 

    Read our Marriott Bonvoy Business credit card review and our IHG One Rewards Premier credit card review.

    2. Insurance 

    Many credit cards offer insurance policies. One of the most common is an increase in the purchase protection warranty on items you buy with your card. For instance, Chase purchase protection applies to many of the best Chase credit cards.

    There are also several travel-related insurance options. A number of cards will offer money if your bag is delayed or damaged — when it isn’t reimbursed by the airline — as well as pay for essentials that you may need to buy while you wait for the bag to arrive. Though I’ve never had to deal with this myself, I know a number of people who have lost bags and were unaware that this coverage existed. 

    Finally, many of the best credit cards with travel insurance also come with accident and emergency insurance, which can protect you should something happen during your travels. Just like travel insurance covers evacuation insurance, your card will, too — which can help in a sudden medical emergency. 

    3. Rental car damage waiver 

    Another popular coverage is the rental car damage waiver you’ll find on many of the best travel credit cards, which allows you to decline the (often costly) waivers that the rental car companies offer themselves. This is one of the most common benefits and it is included with nearly every card.

    All you have to do is pay for the rental car with your card, decline their damage waiver, and submit paperwork to your bank after the incident happens. (Note that you do often have to pay the rental car company first and the bank reimburses you.)

    4. Lounge access

    Credit cards offer a variety of lounge access options. American Express has Amex Centurion Lounges, Chase has the new Chase Sapphire Lounges, and Capital One has its own lounge chain. In addition, there are specific airline lounges and networks like Priority Pass and Plaza Premium.

    You’ll typically find credit cards with airport lounge access to be mid and higher-tier cards, usually with an annual fee of $150 or more. This is one of my favorite perks because it allows me to get food without having to worry about the extreme airport prices. Some lounges also offer services like beauty services, massages, and places to work. 

    5. Discounts

    Most major companies offer discounts through credit card linked offers, and they’re often on items you’re already using or buying. Over the past few months, I’ve received Paramount+ for free, $30 off of a Turo, and $10 off at a restaurant I was already planning on going to — and more. These often have to be activated on your banking website or app first, or you’re required to shop through the bank’s online shopping portal.

    6. Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit

    The best credit cards with Global Entry and TSA Precheck allow you to pay for the service using your card and then credit you for the full cost. TSA Precheck allows users to go through security screening without taking off their shoes and or taking certain items out of their bags, as well as to use a separate line. Global Entry allows for an expedited customs process when returning to the U.S.

    While using credit cards to accumulate points and miles can be a great way to help you travel for less, there are other benefits that could end up saving you even more.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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