Miranda Reiter, CFP®

Summer Travel: Free Credit & Debit Perks to Protect Your Next Trip

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Summertime is one of my favorite seasons. Not only does it remind me of lemonade, BBQs, and endless hours at the beach, but it’s also one of the best times of the year to travel. If you’re like me, you’ve got a trip planned this summer. You’ve saved your money, purchased new travel clothes, bought your ticket and soon, you’ll be ready to go!

But not so fast.

Before you embark on your summer getaway, there are a few things you should know that might make or break your summer fun.

Chances are, if you’re like most travelers, you have planned for the obvious, but what about the not so obvious? Like unexpected travel inconveniences?  Are you protected? According to a recent Huffington Post article, only one in 3 travelers buys insurance for a trip.  And I’m not one of them.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that protection is important, but I like to handle my trip coverage in a different way.

Here’s the thing:  most trips will go well. But when they don’t, I let my debit and credit cards provide all of the basic coverage I need – for free!

That’s right. Credit and debit cards come loaded with protection and benefits for its cardholders. You can cash-in on these benefits as long as you book your travel (hotel, transportation, etc) with the card that carries these perks.  

With these 5 benefits, you can insure that your next summer trip remains fun, safe, and stress-free.

1) Baggage Theft, Damage, Loss or Delay Insurance

We’ve all heard about the traveler who arrived at her wonderful travel destination only to learn that her luggage would make it 2 days later. Downer!

If something happens to your luggage during your trip, your card may cover you for baggage delay, theft, damage, or loss.

Before you book your trip, call your card issuer(s) to see if you have this benefit on your card. If you do, get the details and make sure to book your flights with that card.

Doing so can save you tons of hassle and time in the event that something happens to your luggage.

2) Global, Travel & Emergency Services

Thinking of visiting the Leaning Tower of Piza or maybe the Great Wall of China? If your next trip will take you across the world on an international adventure, you’ll want to be covered by your card’s global, travel, and emergency services.

This benefit covers lost and stolen cards abroad, emergency card replacement, and emergency cash if you need it.

bSmart Tip: Before your next trip, make sure to jot down your credit cards numbers and the emergency phone numbers located on the back of the card. Put this info in a safe place. This will come in handy in the event that you lose your card and no longer have access to that information.

3) Built-In Auto Rental Insurance

Taking a car on the road during your trip? Check to see if your card has rental insurance first. While the coverage typically offered via debit and credit cards is not a substitute for the full coverage that a rental agency can offer, it might pair well with your auto insurance’s coverage.

Card issuers’ auto rental insurance typically offers limited liability coverage or secondary collision damage coverage.

4) Roadside Assistance

But what if you don’t rent a car? In fact, what if you want to put your old college car on the road one last time for a multi-city cross country tour? No problem!

Your card may offer emergency roadside assistance which gives you access to jump-starts, tire changes, towing, and gas delivery.

Roadside assistance usually costs a nominal fee, but it’s a nice perk to have, especially if you have no one else to call. Plus, it beats calling some random towing company if you’re stranded by the road in the middle of the night.

bSmart Tip: When I was still driving around my cherry red 1994 Jeep Cherokee (my most faithful college companion), my cell phone company’s roadside assistance was extremely reliable and was a wonderful deal, too. For $5 a month, I had access to all of the benefits listed above.

Another awesome roadside assistance service is offered through AAA, which has been protecting drivers on the road since 1901. What’s wonderful about being a AAA member is that the benefits don’t travel with the card, they travel with the driver. So no matter what car you’re in, you’re protected.

5) Zero Liability Protection

In the event that your card is ever stolen, whether it be on a trip or not, chances are your card offers you a zero liability protection. That means you won't be held responsible in the event that someone makes unauthorized purchases with your card. Period.

Plus, if your identity is ever stolen, your credit card issuer may work with you and the credit bureaus to help sort it out under this protection.

In light of the recent credit card breaches with such big name companies like Target and PF Chang’s, this benefit is more important now than ever.

Keep in mind that each of your cards is different and may not offer the same benefits.  You’ll want to check with your card issuer to understand your specific options. Generally speaking, credit cards will offer you more benefits than debit cards. It makes sense because credit card companies charge high interest rates and can afford to throw in a few extra perks.

Up for a challenge? Take 10 minutes of your time to know your benefits. Get out all of your debit and credit cards. Call the customer service numbers on the back of your cards and ask what your benefits are. I bet you’ll learn something new!

About the Author: Miranda Reiter is a certified financial planner and founder of She & Money Financial Planning. She helps women develop a game plan for financial success so that they can stop feeling broke, meet their goals, and live the life they truly deserve. 

 

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