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This article was last updated Oct 09, 2017, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
Many rewards credit cards come with travel perks and features that can make travel more convenient especially during inclement weather. We already covered cards that offer trip protection such as trip cancellation insurance, travel accident insurance, flight accident insurance, and baggage insurance. Additionally, the best cards for traveling overseas are those that come with best airline credit cards available.
No Blackout Dates
One of the most helpful and overlooked features of a travel credit card is the ability to book flights without blackout dates. It’s become commonplace over the years with credit cards, but some still don’t offer that perk or some will offer no blackout dates on flights with certain carriers, but not on other carriers. The typical terms and conditions of this service will look something like this:
“(Airline name) carriers do not have restricted dates for award travel. Seats for award travel are limited, and may not be available on all flights. Flight awards are subject to (name of program) program rules and restrictions. Award travel may be subject to embargo dates on some (name of program) program participating airlines.”
That’s not too difficult to understand, right? In a nut shell, there are no blackout dates per say, but the number of available seats reserved for awards program travelers is limited, and of course, program rules, well, they have the final say. For those who don’t know, “no embargo” just means that there’s no room for extra baggage, period. I suppose if you travel with just the clothes on your back this won’t really concern you. This great resource page shows you airline baggage information in relation to embargo restrictions.
Some credit cards have more complex terms and conditions for blackout dates that don’t necessarily pertain to flights. Take the American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card as an example. Under “Destination Family,” you will find that blackout dates DO apply to American Express Vacations, Avis and Hertz car rentals are subject to blackout periods and holidays, and certain seats in “Entertainment Access” may not be available and blackout dates apply. *Terms and limitations apply.
Partner credit cards that offer no blackout dates:
- BankAmericard Travel Reward
- Both versions of the Barclay Rewards Mastercard
- Blue Cash Everyday Card from AMEX
- Both Capital One Venture Rewards Cards
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Citi Platinum Select/AAdvantage World MC
- The Platinum Card from American Express
- Starwood Preferred Guest Card from AMEX
No Foreign Transaction Fees
If you love to travel and are one of those people I envy because your passport has a hundred country stamps, you definitely want a card that offers no fee for foreign transactions. Foreign transaction fees are somewhat disguised costs that many credit cards tack on at a rate of 3% or more for every purchase in a foreign country. Let’s say for example that you plan to travel to Paris and you made $3,000 in charges that you charged to your plastic. If your card charges a transaction fee of 3%, you might return home to find that you got hit with an additional $90 in transaction fees.
Capital One cards that offer no foreign transaction fees:
- Capital One Platinum Prestige
- Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards
- Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards
- Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One Venture Rewards
- GM Card
- Journey Student Rewards
Other partner cards offering no foreign transaction fees:
- Both versions of the Barclay Arrival World MasterCard
- British Airways Visa Signature Card
- Chase Ink Plus Business Card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- All Discover It cards
- The Platinum Card from American Express –*Terms and limitations apply
- United MileagePlus Explorer Card
24/7 assistance hotlines offered by card companies can vary in what the programs actually call it. Some offer 24/7 travel assistance, 24/7 roadside assistance, 24/7 emergency assistance, or concierge service. So, they are all there for the same purpose –to offer additional help at any time of the day when you’re in a time of need. They normally won’t help you book a flight, for instance, but if you need help finding a doctor while in a foreign country or want to know where you can get your prescriptions filled they can help solve those kinds of dilemmas.
Types of services offered with 24/7 assistance:
- Emergency assistance for lost or stolen cards in foreign countries
- Emergency cash advance with lost or stolen card
- Roadside assistance will help you find and send a tow truck
- Lost baggage tracking
- Passport and travel document replacement
- Embassy or Consulate referral
- Legal referrals
- Security, evacuation, and political evacuation insurance
- Medical referrals
- Emergency medical transportation
- Interpreter assistance
- Flight rebooking/ticket replacement
Cardmembers are responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers, of course. Don’t expect your bank to pay for a visit to a dentist in Prague or pick up the tab for your meds if you get sick in India. You can, however, pick up the phone to receive helpful tips on how the weather will be when you land, where to go for safe and secure currency exchange, or to learn about local customs so you don’t accidentally get into trouble or inadvertently offend someone during a business luncheon.
Citi and Barclay offer this service with some cards, but not nearly as many options as Capital One and American Express offer. If you have a Visa Signature card in your wallet you have 24/7 assistance. If you have a card that’s part of the Mastercard Global Service Program, you get 24-hour assistance on lost and stolen card reporting, emergency replacement, and emergency cash advance. *Terms and limitations apply.
*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.