3 Little-Known Perks of Travel Credit Cards

When people look at travel credit cards, they usually focus on the features that the card issuer highlights. A big welcome bonus of 50,000 points or more. Spending credits. Airport lounge access. These are all valuable, exciting benefits, so they get most of the attention.

There are also a few common perks that don’t get mentioned or noticed nearly as much. Some cardholders don’t even realize their travel cards offer them. If you already have a travel card or you’re planning to get one, don’t forget to check for these little-known perks.

1. Complimentary protections for common travel issues

If you’ve rented a car before, you’ve probably heard the sales pitch for the optional rental insurance. It’s not cheap, often running about $20 to $40 per day. And if you decline, you get the legal disclaimer about how if anything happens to the car, you could be liable for the full value of up to $50,000, or however much the rental company says it’s worth.

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It doesn’t exactly get you excited to hit the road. But if you pay with the right credit card, you don’t need to worry. Many travel cards include complimentary rental car insurance covering damage and theft.

There are also quite a few other common travel card protections. You can normally find these on the card issuer’s website, and they’re in the guide to benefits that comes with the card. Here are more travel protections some cards offer:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance if your trip is canceled or cut short
  • Trip delay reimbursement for expenses you incur on lengthy delays
  • Lost luggage reimbursement if your luggage goes missing
  • Delayed baggage insurance for essential purchases while waiting for your luggage

2. Concierge service — your own personal assistant

Trying to get a restaurant reservation for tonight? Or are you planning a vacation and looking for ideas on what to do? You could do this yourself, but if you have a travel card with concierge service, you could also let them handle it.

Concierge service is a benefit found on lots of travel cards, but it’s easy to miss. It may be buried toward the bottom on the list of benefits. I’ve been using travel cards for nearly eight years, and I recently called my card’s concierge for the first time.

Your concierge can help with a wide variety of requests. When you call the concierge line, you tell them what you need, and they might ask you a few questions to get more details. Then, they handle your request and contact you when it’s done, or when they have the information you need. They can contact you by email or phone — your choice.

As mentioned above, a concierge could help with getting a restaurant reservation or vacation planning. Here are a few more examples of ways a concierge can assist you:

  • Gift shopping, including choosing a gift that fits your budget and having it delivered to the recipient
  • Getting concert tickets for you
  • Recommending businesses in your area for any service you need

3. Transferable points you can use for high-end bookings

Many travel cards let you redeem points toward travel purchases at a fixed rate. Rates normally range from $0.01 to $0.015 per point, depending on the card. If the rate is $0.01 per point, then the card issuer may advertise that 50,000 points are worth $500 toward travel.

But some of these cards also include another option: Transferring your points to travel partners. The biggest card issuers are partnered with airlines and hotels, allowing you to transfer your points to them. And when you transfer your points, it’s possible to get much more value from them, especially if you use them for expensive travel bookings.

You can transfer your points if you have a card in any of the following rewards programs:

Let’s say you’re booking business-class airfare that costs $1,500, or 50,000 miles. If you get $0.01 per point for travel purchases, it would cost 150,000 points to book that ticket in cash. But if you can transfer your points to that airline, then you could transfer 50,000 points to turn them into miles. Then, you book the ticket, saving 100,000 miles in the process.

You can get incredible deals this way, but most people don’t do it. Only 14% of consumers transfer rewards to travel partners, according to credit card research by The Motley Fool Ascent. If you have this option with your card, it’s worth taking advantage.

Getting more out of your travel credit card

Travel cards are often loaded with features. While it makes sense to focus on the most valuable perks, they’re not the only useful ones. Make sure to learn about everything your card offers so you can make the most of it.

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