Want to use your credit card to get travel insurance at no extra cost? Read this guide to find out everything you need to know about getting complimentary travel insurance through your credit card.
Premium credit cards often provide travel insurance for cardholders at no extra cost. While this complimentary extra has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars when you go overseas, there is a wide range of terms and conditions you need to be aware of before you take advantage of it.
Here we take a look at how credit card travel insurance works, important considerations and common issues to help you get as much value as possible out of this credit card feature.
Compare Credit Cards with Complimentary Travel Insurance
How to use credit card travel insurance
The first step to getting complimentary travel insurance is to make sure your current credit card or a new card provides it. Most gold, platinum and black credit cards come with this complimentary extra, but it’s a good idea to double-check before you start budgeting for any trips.
The next step is to check the eligibility requirements for claiming this cover when you go overseas, which could include:
- Paying for some or all of the trip on the credit card
- Meeting a minimum spend amount before you travel
- Activating the insurance
In most cases, you will simply have to meet spending requirements on the card to activate the travel insurance but some credit card providers may also require you to log into your account or call them to register for full international travel insurance coverage. Other requirements could include:
- Return travel tickets before you leave
- Prepaid overseas accommodation
- Any required travel visas/documentation
You can check your credit card product disclosure statement or complimentary insurance information booklet to find out exactly what you need to do to get this coverage before you travel.
Activating CommBank credit card travel insurance
Jane wants to use her CommBank credit card travel insurance for an upcoming trip to the USA. Jane goes through the following steps:
- Books return flights for herself, her husband and their daughter.
- Logs onto NetBank.
- Follows the prompts to activate the travel insurance and register her travel plans.
After she’s done, she receives an email from CommBank with her Certificate of Insurance and is ready to continue planning her trip.
Who is covered by credit card travel insurance?
As with purchased travel insurance, policy coverage varies depending on the credit card and the insurance provider. Most credit card travel insurance options cover the primary cardholder, their spouse and/or any dependent children travelling with them. Others may also extend coverage to nominated travel partners or other family members.
Keep in mind that anyone else you add to the policy will have to meet similar eligibility requirements and their inclusion could impact on your overall claim limits. For example, with Citibank credit card travel insurance, loss or damage of personal belongings and business items is capped at $16,000 per person up to a total of $32,000 for the policy. Meanwhile, Westpac credit card travel insurance limits emergency dental care to $2,000 per person and bed care to $100 a day up to $15,000. Depending on how many people are travelling, these limits could mean you get less money back when you make a claim as it will be divided between you.
Are there age limits for credit card travel insurance?
All travel insurance policies come with requirements and restrictions around age. In the case of credit card travel insurance, most policies will cover people up to 80 years of age. As travel insurance premiums typically increase with age, the age limits on complimentary credit card travel insurance could translate into even more savings for seniors.
However, if the complimentary insurance doesn’t cover you because of your age, you may need to pay an additional premium to have yourself covered. Check with the insurance provider before you leave for your holiday to make sure you’re covered.
What about pre-existing medical conditions?
As with purchased travel insurance, pre-existing medical conditions are assessed on a case-by-case basis. This means that if you or anyone else you are travelling with has an existing medical condition, you may have to contact the insurance provider directly for an assessment.
In general, people with manageable pre-existing medical conditions will be able to get some coverage through complimentary credit card travel insurance, but the claims may be reduced or limited to items that are unrelated to the medical condition.
With travel insurance on a Citibank credit card, for example, only the primary cardholder can be covered for claims arising from pre-existing medical conditions. To be eligible, they have to contact the provider, Allianz Global Assistance, go through a medical assessment and may have to pay an administration fee to gain coverage. The insurance provider usually has a list of the excluded pre-existing medical conditions available within the policy.
What kinds of items are covered by credit card travel insurance?
Credit card travel insurance can offer as much coverage as over-the-counter travel insurance and may include:
- Medical. The cost of emergency medical services, including hospitalisation.
- Loss or damage of personal effects. Coverage for personal items that may be lost, stolen or damaged during your travels.
- Rental vehicle expenses. Coverage for rental vehicle costs, including excesses.
- Unexpected cancellation of travel arrangements. Offers reimbursement if your trip is cancelled for certain unexpected reasons, such as accidental death or financial insolvency.
- Resumption of journey. Covers the cost of continuing a journey following unexpected cancellations.
- Alternative transport for special events. If there are delays or cancellations when you are travelling for a special event such as a wedding, you can claim some of the costs associated with getting alternative transport.
- Travel delays. Covers things like meals and accommodation if there are travel delays on your trip.
- Funeral expenses. Provides you with coverage for overseas funeral costs.
- Accidental death. Offers compensation for accidental death on the trip.
- Legal liability. Covers you for the costs associated with legal issues you may have to deal with while travelling in another country.
Depending on the insurance policy there may be more or less covered items available, so it’s a good idea to check with your credit card provider and the insurance company to see exactly what protection you will have when you go overseas.
What to watch out for with credit card travel insurance
Keep the following factors in mind to make sure credit card travel insurance works for you.
- Geographic areas. Countries that carry a “do not travel” advisory from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are usually not covered by credit card travel insurance. Most policies also exclude any travel within Australia, even if it is related to an international trip.
- Time limits. Most policies end when you return to Australia, so if something related to your travel happens after that (such as showing symptoms of an illness), you may not be able to make a claim.
- Cancellation before travel. If you have to cancel your trip before you leave, you may not get any compensation from a credit card travel insurance policy and if you do have coverage, it might be a lot less than you would get with paid travel insurance.
- Excess costs. Credit card travel insurance excess costs are often higher than those of purchased policies, typically ranging from $100–$500 per claim.
- Expiry dates. Complimentary travel insurance can last anywhere from one month to 12 months, although most credit cards offer coverage for three to six months per year.
- Exclusions. Standard, comprehensive travel insurance often excludes things like snow sports, so you may have to purchase this coverage at an additional cost.
- Other terms and conditions. All credit card travel insurance policies have specific terms and conditions you need to meet to be eligible to make claims. Regularly checking your credit card insurance policy booklet will help you stay up-to-date with everything you need to do to get the most out of this service.
Credit card costs
If you want a credit card that offers complimentary travel insurance, considering the following costs will help you find an option that’s affordable for you.
- Annual fees. A lot of credit cards that provide travel insurance charge an annual fee. This fee ranges from $129 to $450 or more for gold, platinum and black cards, although there are some cards that have no annual fee and offer travel insurance, such as the Bankwest Zero Platinum.
- Interest charges. Credit card interest rates can be as high as 22% p.a., which can quickly add up to a lot of fees if you carry a balance. If you have to pay for some or all of your travel on the card to get this insurance, aim to pay the balance in full as soon as you can to avoid any extra charges.
- Foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards charge a currency conversion fee of between 2% and 3.5% for transactions made overseas or online with an international retailer. Make sure you factor this cost in before using your card so that you can budget accordingly.
With so many premium credit cards offering complimentary travel insurance to cardholders, learning more about the eligibility requirements and conditions of this coverage means you can get the most out of it whenever you plan a trip overseas.Back to top