We all know credit cards can help you earn airline points, but did you know they can offer heaps of other travel perks, too? With the cost of living continuing to rise, if you aren’t yet aware of those perks, it just might be time to familiarise yourself with them.
“The domestic and international travel perks offered by rewards credit cards can save businesses and their travellers hundreds of dollars each year, while allowing them to get a little luxury into their trips without the cost,” says Tom Walley, Global Managing Director at Corporate Traveller, Flight Centre Travel Group’s flagship travel management division for SMEs.
“These perks include free flights and airport lounge access, restaurant credit and hotel rooms, travel insurance, and even concierge services. However, travellers should determine the offers that will be of most value to them – and crunch the numbers to work out whether these offers still provide value against sometimes higher interest rates or high annual fees.”
Ahead, Walley shares some of the perks credit card holders looking to maximise their travel and destination experiences should look out for, either when signing up for new credit cards or among the offerings from their current card.
With airfares likely to remain high in 2023 before capacity returns to pre-COVID levels, some frequent flyers might be attracted to cards with offerings such as up to $450 in travel credit with major airlines or complimentary flights each year, says Walley.
“However, cardholders should be aware of any higher-than-average costs associated with those cards,” says Walley. “The American Express Velocity Platinum credit card includes one free return domestic flight with Virgin Australia every year and 21.99% interest compared with the average credit card interest rate of 19.94%. The American Express Platinum charge card offers $450 in yearly travel credit to spend on eligible flights, hotels, or car hire, and comes with a $1,450 annual fee.”
Another rewards perk is credit with overseas and domestic restaurant partners, which might appeal to travellers with a tight personal budget while travelling, says Walley. The American Express Platinum charge card, for instance, offers up to $400 in restaurant credit at participating restaurants in Australia and overseas, but does come with an eye-watering $1,450 annual fee.
Access to Airport Lounges
Airport lounges let you relax or work productively while in transit and many rewards credit cards offer access to lounges across Australia and internationally, says Walley.
“For example, the HSBC Star Alliance Credit Card allows members to earn points across 26 airline rewards programs, providing access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide,” he says. “That said, cardholders earn one Star Alliance point per $1 spent up to $3,000 per statement period and just 0.5 points for every $1 spent thereafter.”
The Qantas Premier Titanium card offers new cardholders two complimentary Qantas First Class lounge passes at selected airports in Sydney, LA, and, Melbourne annually, but cardholders need to consider the hefty $1,200 annual fee. The American Express Velocity Platinum cardholders receive two Virgin Australia lounge passes at selected domestic airports each year but comes with 21.99% interest rate and does not allow balance transfers.
Included Travel Insurance
Many rewards credit cards allow cardholders to save on travel insurance by offering a level of complimentary insurance.
“It’s important to keep in mind there are limitations to a card’s insurance policy, and businesses should determine whether they require more comprehensive cover to ensure employees and business belongings are fully protected,” Walley says.
For instance, ANZ Rewards Platinum credit cardholders can access unlimited overseas emergency medical. It caps other cover at $50 for meals and $250 for accommodation in the event of travel delays; $4,000 for lost, stolen or damaged computers, cameras, and video cameras; and up to $1,000 for any other items. Cover for rental vehicle damage, though, is capped at $5,000.
Finally, high-earning travellers who frequent a preferred hotel or want to tack a personal trip onto a business trip might find value in complimentary accommodation that comes either with sign-up or with the annual fee, says Walley.
“The Citi Prestige Credit Card allows cardholders to get a fourth night free at a participating hotel, limited to four stays a year, keeping in mind there is a $700 annual fee from the second year and cardholders need to have a minimum $150,000 annual income,” he says.