Understanding your credit card benefits
Years ago while I was walking in Amsterdam, I received a text message that made me want to quit drinking.
“Dear sir, due to the weather your flight to Edinburgh has been cancelled."
I was set to attend a wedding in two days, so I was obviously concerned. I went straight to the airport where I was informed that the UK was hit by one of the worst snowstorms in decades — hundreds of flights were cancelled.
I was worried about my prospects, but by some miracle I was able to secure one of the last tickets to Glasgow, which my original airline paid for. I figured I'd be able to bus the rest of the way to Edinburgh.
The airline also offered me a hotel room, but it was off-site and the reviews weren't stellar. My flight was early the next morning, and I just wanted to be comfortable. I decided to stay at the airport to have a meal before booking a room at the directly connected hotel.
My total out-of-pocket costs were about $240. About a year later, while reading my credit card benefits, I realized that I had travel insurance included in my benefits, and it would have covered these expenses.
By not being informed, I ended up spending money I didn't have to. I'm sure I'm not alone in that regard. We all have benefits with our credit cards, but we need to know what we're entitled to if we need to make a claim.
Common credit card benefits
Travel medical insurance: This will cover you if you need to seek medical attention when travelling. Healthcare can be expensive outside Canada, so it's important to always travel with medical insurance.
Trip cancellation/interruption: When travelling, delays happen. Trip cancellation/interruption will cover you in the event you need to cancel your trip for a qualifying reason. Interruption insurance will pay for expenses you incur up to a maximum amount when your flight is delayed by a set amount of hours, usually 4.
Baggage Insurance: If your baggage is lost or delayed, you'll be given a set amount which you can use to purchase necessities. Note that baggage insurance is much more generous compared to airline payouts when your luggage is lost or delayed.
Car rental collision/loss damage waiver insurance: If your credit card offers this kind of insurance, you can decline any additional coverage that your car rental agency offers you, since you'll have adequate coverage included.
Purchase assurance: Sometimes known as purchase protection, this kind of insurance may cover your purchased items from loss, theft, damage, and even price drops.
Extended warranty: There's no need to buy a store warranty if your credit card gives you a free extra year just by making your purchase on the card.
Zero liability: If you're a victim of fraud, zero liability will ensure that you're not responsible for any fraudulent charges.
Qualifying and making claims
Every credit card has different conditions. Generally speaking, to qualify for your benefits, you'll need to make your purchases in full with the credit card.
If you do need to make a claim, you'll want to contact your insurance provider right away. This is a requirement for some of them, but it's also a good time to find out what steps to take next. You'll need to have all your receipts and get any documentation on the things you're claiming. For example, a doctor's note or written confirmation that your flight was delayed may be requested.
Remember, every credit card offers different benefits and has its own policies. You need to read the fine print in order to find out exactly what you're entitled to.