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Are you getting the most mileage out of your travel credit cards?

And I don’t mean just airline miles, but other, lesser-known perks as well.

Today’s guest post from consumer writer Andrew Rombach should give you some ideas about how to leverage your travel credit cards to their maximum advantage — and make your travel experience just a bit easier and more economical as well.

By Andrew Rombach

While cash back, airline miles, and discounts on shopping are pretty well-known fare for many travel credit cards, there is a long list of other travel benefits you may not be aware of.

These little-known travel benefits can save you plenty of money and make your travel a lot more convenient.

And they aren’t just limited to high-end cards. Knowing what to expect from your credit card benefits should also make travel hacking a bit easier as well. Here are a few of these benefits:

No need to stuff your bag full of cash when you can check it for free.

No need to stuff your bag full of cash when you can check it for free.

First Checked Bag is Free

This is a great benefit for frequent travelers, who know that over time, $25-$50 for one checked bag every flight adds up quickly.

Many travel cards offer your first checked bag free; that means if you fly once a month, you can save $300-600 per year. That’s enough for another trip!

Some of the cards carrying this benefit include the Gold Delta Skymiles from American Express and the American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum from Citibank.

Priority Boarding

Anyone who’s had to spend time at an overly crowded gate or jostled for a place in line to board knows that priority boarding can help alleviate the stress.

Instead of being part of a crowd, you can board before the masses, which will allow you to get settled without the chaos that generally goes on in coach seating — and find plenty of space in the overhead bins to store your carry-ons.

Some cards that feature this perk include the United Club Card and AAdvantage cards.

Annual Complimentary Companion Ticket

The companion ticket is one of the most misunderstood and underused benefits that travel cards offer.

While it’s not always as simple as “buy one ticket, get one free,” it does allow you to purchase a second domestic ticket for the price of taxes and fee, usually starting at about $22 depending on the destination.

Each program has its own criteria; sometimes there are blackout dates or destinations, and you need to purchase the two tickets together for the same flights. It can, however, save you some serious cash.

Some of the cards that have this benefit include the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier, Alaska Signature Visa, and the Delta Reserve card. 

Discounts on In-Flight Purchases

The prices for snacks, alcoholic beverages, and even audio headsets have gone up on flights, and they don’t take cash as payment anymore.

The Gold Delta SkyMiles card, however, offers a 20% discount on eligible Delta in-flight purchases, and the AAdvantage offers a 25% discount on American flights.

Entertainment Access

Sometimes when you find yourself in a new city, you’re looking for things to do on the fly.

A few travel cards, including the AAdvantage Platinum, offer access to discounts and ticket pre-sales to a variety of live music, sporting events, and restaurants. No matter where you go, you’ll have something to do.

Cell Phone Replacement Insurance

Losing or damaging your cell phone can be a huge pain, even if it happens in your own city.

When it happens across the country or even abroad, however, the effects can be catastrophic — especially if all of your itinerary information or other critical data was in your phone.

Now some cards, like the Delta SkyMiles card line, offer replacement insurance, so at least you’re covered for the cost.

You can get reimbursement for your Global Entry fee from some credit cards.

You can get reimbursement for your Global Entry fee from some credit cards.

TSA Pre-√ or Global Entry Application Fee Credit

If you’re a TSA Global Entry or Pre-√ customer, you can get the application/renewal fee reimbursed for your participation.

The AAdvantage Executive WorldElite Mastercard offers a statement credit every five years, up to $100, to reimburse you for your application.

VIP Treatment

For those who wish to avoid the long lines, crowded gates, and other less desirable facets of airline travel, some cards have a VIP benefit.

Each card offering it calls it something different, but you get dedicated check-in areas, expedited security screening, and VIP boarding at the gate to make your airport experience a lot less stressful.

Travel and Cancellation Insurance

We’ve all been there: We have a trip planned, tickets purchased, and then something unavoidable happens.

We sometimes have to alter or even cancel our trip, and, in the past, that meant losing the price of the ticket or the entire trip — or paying exorbitant prices for the travel insurance offered by the airline.

With the insurance benefit on some cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred, you can get up to $1 million in trip coverage ($10,000 with the Preferred card), with additional benefits for trip delays or lost luggage.

While every credit card is different and many of them have the basic rewards, these other perks can help make your traveling a lot easier — and cheaper.

Author Bio:  Andrew Rombach writes for LendEDU – a consumer education website. Check out the blog or news roll if you want to read up on personal finance and industry news.


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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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