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Credit card travel insurance


19 February, 2020 By Crystal Moran

Complementary or 'free' credit card travel insurance is a popular feature which may travellers rely on. Checking the fine print of your credit card travel insurance policy terms is essential - otherwise, you might find common exclusions leave you out of pocket. 

What is credit card travel insurance?

Credit card travel insurance is a benefit included on many premium credit cards. While marketed as 'free' or 'complimentary', these policies are typically paid for through your annual fees.

Utilising the complimentary travel insurance offered by your credit card can be a great way to save money - if the policy meets your needs and circumstances. Some policies only activate if you purchased your flights on your credit card, while others need you to call a hotline, and most don't cover pre-existing conditions. So understanding the fine print is essential for keeping eyewatering bills at bay. 
 

pros and cons of credit card travel insurance

Here's the top four pros and cons of complimentary credit card travel insurance:

credit card travel insurance underwriters
Underwritten by quality underwriters

Most credit card policies are underwritten by the same companies as standalone policies, so you know legitimate claims will be paid. 

credit card travel insurance medical
May not cover pre-existing conditions

Most credit card travel insurance policies specifically exclude pre-existing conditions from cover.

credit card travel insurance ages
No price increase as you get older

While standard travel insurance gets more expensive as you get older, there's no extra cost on credit card travel insurance policies. 

credit card travel insurance limits
May have age and duration limits

Many cards have age or trip duration limits, so you might not be covered at all even though you've paid your annual fee. 

credit card travel insurance destination
No price increase for expensive destinations

You don't have to pay extra to be covered for places like Japan and the USA, which typically cost more with standalone policies.

credit card travel insurance activities
May not cover your activities

If you're going skiing, riding a motorcycle, or doing adventure activities, the may not be covered.

credit card travel insurance free
It's complimentary, or 'free'!

You've already paid for your policy using your annual fees, so there's no additional cost to you. 

credit card travel insurance fee
May cost more than a standalone policy

Depending on your age, destination and duration, a standalone policy may be cheaper than your credit card annual fee.

credit card travel insurance

Activating credit card travel insurance

You might think you're automatically covered by your credit card travel insurance, but most policies have rules and conditions, so it's important to check the fine print. Common activation rules include:

1. ​Activation on purchase

your credit card trip insurance is automatically activated once you make a travel-related purchase on your card, such as flights or accommodation

2. Activation on value or percentage of trip purchases

some credit card travel insurance only applies if you've spent a certain value, like $250-$500, or a percentage amount (e.g. 50%, 100%) of travel expenses on your credit card.

3. Activation on flight purchase

Your trip is covered provided you've purchased a return flight on your credit card.

4. Activation on notification

You need to call your card provider or log in to their internet banking or app and notify them of your trip to activate the policy.

Check the table below for activation rules for popular credit cards, and check your policy documents to confirm. 

compare credit card travel insurance conditions 

The information provided is factual at the time of writing and general in nature.  We have not considered your personal circumstances.  Eligibility requirements and terms and conditions for cover are subject to change from time to time.  Please refer to your credit card provider and the latest policy wording prior to your travels. 

Will credit card insurance cover you?

Spouse or family members

Some credit card travel insurance policies only cover the primary cardholder, while others will cover secondary cardholders, spouses and dependents, provided that they meet similar activation criteria.

Age limits

Many credit card travel insurance policies have an age limit of 75-80, so if you're a senior traveller, make sure that you know what your policies age limit is before you travel.

Trip length

While some credit card travel insurance policies will let you for travel for twelve months at a time, most have a limit of one to six months. If you're relying on credit card travel insurance and realise that it will run out before you get home, consider looking into a standalone comprehensive travel insurance policy for the whole trip, or for an already overseas policy for the remaining time.
 
travel cover luggage

what credit card travel insurance may not cover

As most credit card travel insurance policies are one-size-fits-all, they may not account for your specific travel needs.

Pre-existing conditions

Most credit card holiday cover has general exclusions for pre-existing medical conditions. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, like diabetes, asthma, or cancer, make sure your credit card travel insurance policy will cover you. If not, you may face hefty medical bills if something goes wrong overseas, or big losses if you have to cancel your holiday for health reasons.

Holiday activities

If you're looking to go skiing, cruising, riding scooters or motorbikes, or try adventure activities like scuba diving or hiking at high altitudes, check that these are covered by your credit card cover, as many brands exclude cover for these activities. Many credit card travel insurance policies are better for being beachside in Bali than basking in the view at Basecamp.

High-Value Items

Unless your policy has new-for-old replacement terms, high-value electronics like mobile phones, laptops, cameras and hearing aids may not be covered for their full value, as they will be subject to depreciation. 

what credit card travel insurance covers

Generally speaking, most credit card travel insurance policies mimic many of the features of standalone comprehensive travel insurance products. However, as per the table above, some credit card travel policies only cover for medical coverage and public liability unless you activate comprehensive benefits prior to your trip. 

Overseas emergency medical treatment

Cover for hospitalisation, general practitioner fees, surgery, and other medical treatment you experience a medical emergency overseas which is not due to a pre-existing condition.

Cancellation fees and lost deposits

Cover if you have to cancel your trip due to illness or injury, family emergencies, natural disasters or striking and rioting. Visit our cancellation cover page for more information.

Luggage and personal effects

Cover for items you take with you on your journey, and typically any items you buy overseas. Visit our luggage cover page for more information.

Public liability

Cover if you become liable for injury to another person or for damage to their property. Cover is generally excluded if you are operating a motor vehicle.  
 

CREDIT CARD travel COVER FAQs

We get a lot of questions on credit card travel insurance. Here's some answers to our most common ones.

Is credit card travel insurance any good?

Whether credit card travel insurance is as good as or better than standalone travel insurance depends entirely on you and your circumstances. If you're going for a short trip, you've paid for your flight on your card, and you have no pre-existing medical conditions, taking advantage of 'free' credit card travel insurance might be a winner. But if you're going for a while, doing any adventurous activities, or you're got existing health issues, a standalone product may offer you the coverage you're looking for.

Which Australian credit cards come with travel insurance?

Not every credit card comes with travel insurance. Complimentary travel insurance is typically offered on premium credit or rewards cards that have higher annual fees. Check your policy documents for details or contact your bank. You can also check the table above for some of the more popular credit cards.

What is the best credit card for travel insurance?

The benefits you get with credit cards varies based on the type of card you have, the policy provider and your individual circumstances, so there isn’t actually a “best” credit card for travel insurance. Our table lists Australia's premium cards that provide travel insurance and outlines any activation criteria.

Can I cover my medical conditions with my credit card cover?

In most cases, pre-existing medical conditions will not be covered by travel insurance that comes with your credit card, but you may be able to get cover for this by contacting the insurer and paying an additional premium. You will need to check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS), also known as policy wording to find out whether pre-existing medical conditions are covered. The alternative is a standalone travel insurance, learn more about covering your medical conditions.

Am I covered if I go skiing?

Like all insurances, some limitations apply to the travel insurance that comes with your credit card or rewards card and skiing is often one of them. Winter sports activities such as skiing and snowboarding are often excluded from credit card travel insurance, so if you're planning on hitting the slopes you should contact your provider to ensure that you have adequate cover for your planned activities. If not, opt for a standalone ski insurance policy.


Contributor Crystal Moran

Crystal Moran

With a research and journalism background, and certified in Tier 2 General Insurance General Advice, Crystal is passionate about investigating customers’ tricky travel questions and helping them find the answers they’re looking for. A writer and filmmaker whose favourite trips have been to film festivals in Cuba and South Korea, and campervanning around the USA, she loves getting to know new people and seeing a glimpse of the world through their eyes.


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