Credit Cards with Bonus Travel Perks, November 2014

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Credit cards often come with travel benefits and features that can make travel more convenient. Some of the more elite travel cards offer things like private jet access, hotel burglary insurance, free access to golf courses world-wide, and even a private consultant. You may have seen our previous articles on credit cards offering travel insurance coverage and cards that have no blackout dates when traveling, so this is the final article covering credit cards with travel perks.

Free Airport Lounge Access

I’ve never had an interest in getting a credit card that comes with airport lounge access, but I can definitely see the value in it if you’re a frequent traveler or travel for business. If you travel during the winter, too, I can see an interest in lounge access for extra-long layovers. Most cards that offer this service only allow card holders to access the lounge once, maybe twice, per year, but they can also expect to receive complimentary snacks, Wi-Fi, couches, and other services.

If you’re a card member of one of the following, your card includes complimentary airport lounge access:

  • US Airways Premier World MasterCard –Comes with one complimentary day pass at U.S. Airways Club®  or Admirals Club® location per year. The voucher will expire one year from account-opening anniversary.
  • United MileagePlus® Explorer Card –Comes with two free one-time-use passes per year. Club Members will receive complimentary beverages, snacks, Wi-Fi, and other amenities.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express – This card provides really great airport club access. Card holders will have access to complimentary airport lounge programs such as access to Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, Airspace Lounges, and you can enroll in  Priority Pass Select at no additional cost. These programs provide you with access to over 600 domestic and international airport lounges. The card member’s spouse and children 21 and up, or two companion travelers are allowed to access the club for free. *Terms and limitations apply.
  • Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® MasterCard –Cardholders will receive two complimentary one-day Admiral’s Club Passes after meeting purchase requirements. Pass holders must be 18 years of age or older and up to 3 children under the age of 18 are allowed for free when accompanied by an adult.
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® -This card comes with enhanced airport experience compared to the above Platinum Select MasterCard. The primary cardholder will receive membership to the American Airlines Admirals Club Lounges, and must be 18 years or age or older. Free guests include the cardholders immediate family, or up to two traveling companions.
  • Citi Prestige® Card -Cardholders will receive complimentary access to American Airlines Admirals Club lounges, plus hundreds of VIP lounges through Priority Pass Select. Free guests include the cardholders immediate family, or up to two traveling companions.
  • Visa Black Card –Obviously one would expect this card to come with free airport lounge access, but maybe not realize it comes with unlimited VIP airport lounge visits to more than 350 lounges in 200 cities worldwide. Wow!

The British Airways Visa Signature® Card comes with membership to British Airways Executive Club, but I couldn’t find any information about free lounge or club access.

Luggage Benefits and Protection

Not interested in paying for a checked bag? Some credit cards will waive your checked bag fee or allow you to check your first bag for free, such as the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select World MasterCard (also includes up to 4 traveling companions*). Additional cards include:

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite MasterCard
  • United MilagePlus Explorer Card
  • US Airways Premier World MC
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card (Southwest allows all passengers to check one bag for free.

What about lost or damaged luggage? Yes, most premier credit cards have you covered there as well such as many of the card offered by American Express. There's nothing more frustrating than losing your luggage or finding it on the luggage carousel damaged from poor handling or other causes. There are a few different coverage options for these instances such as lost luggage insurance, baggage delay insurance, and concierge services that will help you locate a lost or stolen bag.

All World MasterCard cardholders have access to MasterTrip Travel Assistance, which will help locate any lost or stolen travel materials. They also receive Worldwide Automatic Travel Accident and Baggage Delay Insurance, which reimburses cardholders for emergency purchases of essential items up to $300. All Visa Signature cardholders will receive lost luggage reimbursement, which covers cardholders' luggage that was lost or damaged by their carrier on up to $3,000. They will also receive the Lost Luggage Locator Service to help with the common carrier's claim procedures and make arrangements to ship lost items.

Always be sure to check the terms and conditions of your credit card to make sure you're covered.

Top of the Line Travel Assistance from Amex

American Express is the way to go if you want the real white-glove, 5-star treatment. Platinum and Centurion Card members have access to Premium Global Assist, which provides a long list of benefits in addition to the standard travel hotline services. With Premium Global Assist, for example, you may be eligible for paid emergency medical evacuation to transport you or a family member to the nearest appropriate medical facility. That won’t cover medical care beyond what is performed during the medical evacuation and it won’t pay to transport your belongings or luggage – but it can be a fantastic benefit. The other perks provided under the Premium Global Assist program are numerous and, in some cases, rather luxurious. You’ll have to have fabulous credit and fork over hefty annual fees for these cards, but if you travel often and enjoy the valuable freebies, this program is for you.

Some credit card benefits aren’t as clear-cut as one may like. The Platinum Card from American Express, for example, comes with premium car rentals, an international airline program, and a limo program. With the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards and the Capital One Venture Rewards cards, you can be rewarded with special travel upgrades like complimentary discounts and upgrades at hotels, resorts, and cruises.

*Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.

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