Co-authors: Byron Parish, TJ Ryan
Travel insurance gives travellers peace of mind that they can be covered if plans should go awry while they’re away from home – and sometimes you can get this type of policy included with your credit card.
What is credit card travel insurance?
Complimentary credit card travel insurance is a feature that is available on many credit cards – typically rewards credit cards. A travel insurance policy included on a credit card may offer varying levels of coverage for you when travelling domestically or internationally (sometimes both).
It’s important to note that complimentary travel insurance is not really “free”. The travel insurance premium is paid for through the annual fee on the card.
Depending on the quality of the policy, complimentary credit card travel insurance can be used instead of a standalone travel insurance policy. This helps you reduce travel costs overall and saves you valuable time.
Complimentary insurance can cover users for a variety of needs while travelling, including:
- Medical cover for hospital and doctor expenses overseas
- Lost luggage or damaged property cover
- Cancellation fee cover if you have to unexpectedly cancel your trip due to events outside your control
- Travel inconvenience cover for cancelled or delayed flights
- Transit accident cover for injuries that occur while using some form of transport
- Legal liability cover in case you injure someone else or damage someone else’s property during your trip
But there’s a wide range in terms of what policies will and won’t cover – so check your policy before you rely on your credit card travel insurance.
Credit card travel insurance is popular
When it comes to credit card features, free travel insurance is one of the most demanded.
According to CANSTAR’s website usage data, “Complimentary Travel Insurance” was the number one most popular feature on CANSTAR’s credit cards comparison table from March 2016 to March 2017.
More than 1 in 5 visitors comparing credit cards were searching for complimentary travel insurance included with the card (22%).
So which cards offer it? Our 2016 star ratings of travel credit cards showed there are on our database 71 credit cards with complimentary travel insurance. Read on to find out which ones…
Is credit card travel insurance worth it?
Can you rely on credit card travel insurance?
Credit cards with complimentary travel insurance can be a great way to save money, but you absolutely must check beforehand what the policy will cover. Travel insurance that comes with credit cards often does not include as much cover as a standalone travel insurance policy that you buy separately.
Some credit card travel insurance policies also do not cover more than just the cardholder, so you still have to buy separate policies for your spouse and kids.
Thankfully, some cards rise above the pack and offer all the cover you could expect from a standalone travel insurance policy. Read this article to find out which credit card travel insurance policies provide as much cover as a standalone travel insurance policy would.
See a snapshot of the current market offerings for low rate credit cards that provide complimentary travel insurance below with direct links to the providers website. Results have been sorted by purchase rate (lowest to highest) and based on a monthly spend of $2,000.
Pros and cons for credit card travel insurance
- Using credit cards with complimentary travel insurance is an excellent way to save money on insurance for frequent travellers.
- Some policies offer all the benefits that a standalone travel insurance package would.
- Having complimentary travel insurance means you don’t have to spend time comparing standalone insurance products.
- There are plenty of different credit card options, which means you are in control of how much coverage you want and how much you spend.
- Some credit card policies will also cover your spouse and children if they are travelling with you (as long as you activate the policy correctly).
- Card policies often continue to cover older travellers as they age, whereas standalone travel insurance policies can charge higher premiums for older travellers.
- A range of different international destinations are covered for the same “price” (the annual fee of the card). With standalone travel policies, the price of your policy depends on your destination.
- Complimentary travel insurance is considered a premium feature, so it is typically offered on rewards credit cards that have higher interest rates and annual fees.
- Some credit card travel policies only cover international trips or domestic trips, so you need to check whether your trip is covered or not.
- Travel insurance is activated differently across cards, which means you need to remember to activate your policy in order to be covered for your trip. You may have to pay for your flights, tours, and/or accommodation using the card in order to be covered.
- Infrequent travellers may not benefit from complimentary travel insurance, as the higher fees and interest rates may make their credit card more expensive in the long run.
- Exclusions and an excess may still apply to complimentary travel insurance policies, so it’s still crucial to read the product disclosure statement (PDS) before signing up for such a credit card. For example, credit card travel policies often exclude activities such as skiing or watersports or other “adventure” activities from cover.
- Credit card travel insurance policies typically only cover trips of up to a certain length (e.g. 31 days or 3 months), so check your PDS before assuming your trip would be covered.
- Cover may not be as extensive as standalone travel insurance policies, e.g. some credit card policies cap cover for overseas emergency medical expenses at $500,000.
7 things to look out for when comparing credit cards with travel insurance
1. Credit cards with free travel insurance tend to have higher annual fees and interest rates
Complimentary travel insurance is a ‘premium’ feature, so cards that have it usually have a higher annual fee and interest rate than other cards.
This isn’t always the case, but CANSTAR research found the following averages in August last year:
|Overseas travel insurance||Average Annual Fee||Average Purchase rate (p.a.)|
Source: www.canstar.com.au Rates and fees as at 17 August 2016.
Credit cards with complimentary travel insurance tend to have higher annual fees, and higher levels of coverage are often associated with higher fees. Ensure that you assess whether you will use all the perks on a card with a higher annual fee, compared to a more cost-effective card.
The purchase rate and the balance transfer rate for the cards compared above vary from 11.49% p.a. to 21.74% p.a..
It is very important to identify the potential costs of purchase rates and cash advances, especially for credit card travel insurance plans that require you to prepay some of your trip expenses using the card in order to activate the insurance policy. You don’t want to be paying too much interest on your prepaid trip costs.
2. How travel insurance is activated
Travel insurance is activated differently depending on the card. Generally, credit card travel insurance policies can be activated in three different ways:
- Purchase: Usually, your travel insurance is automatically activated when making any travel-related purchases on the card, such as flights and accommodation, with 31 cards specifying a minimum spend of $250 – $950 on the card. The majority – 23 out of 31 cards – require a $500 minimum spend to activate cover. Note that 60 of the 71 cards with this feature require you to purchase a return flight ticket in order to activate your cover. Also, many cards allow supplementary card holders (often only if they’re an immediate relative) to activate the insurance coverage with a purchase, but some others don’t!
- Rewards point purchase: You can also activate your credit card’s travel insurance by making travel purchases with your rewards points, with 34 cards on our database (out of the 60 cards that require some sort of purchase to activate). Some cards might require a minimum points balance to allow this, though.
- Notification: On other cards, the provider might simply require to be manually notified of when you wish to activate travel insurance. At the time of writing, only the Commonwealth Bank (CommBank) allows customers to activate their travel insurance via notification through their online banking portal, NetBank.
Make sure you carefully check the terms and conditions of the card you choose, to ensure that you’ve met the travel insurance activation requirements.
3. Travel insurance coverage can vary
The free travel insurance on credit cards can range from a basic policy to really comprehensive coverage. Whether you can rely on credit card travel insurance or not will therefore largely depend on the card product and the details of the policy attached.
Look for all the minor details that a free travel insurance policy will cover you for:
- Trip duration: How many days will it cover? Some credit card policies only cover trips up to 3 months long, while a standalone travel insurance policy can cover up to 12 months depending on your choice of policy.
- Luggage: Will it cover lost belongings, or only cover theft or damaged personal goods? To what level are your belongings covered – is it enough to actually replace them if your entire suitcase or backpack is stolen?
- Cancellations: What is the policy regarding cancellation fees?
- Medical: What level of cover is provided for overseas emergency medical expenses? Standalone policies can offer up to unlimited cover for this, whereas many credit card policies cap this cover at $500,000. And about those medical emergencies – are your pre-existing health conditions covered?
- Activities: Are you covered for the activities you want to do? Many standalone travel insurance policies offer optional extra cover for things like skiing or watersports, whereas credit card policies often exclude these activities from cover.
Find the details that matter most to you and pick the card with a plan that suits those needs.
Most premium cards include ‘travel accident insurance’ and ‘travel inconvenience insurance’ in addition to the main policy, but others miss out. On the other hand, there are some cards that only cover ‘travel accidents’ and ‘travel inconvenience’ and do not provide traditional travel insurance cover:
- International/domestic travel insurance: Most credit cards with free travel insurance will provide coverage for overseas trips only. But as you can see in the table below, there’s quite a few included policies that also cover domestic trips. Travel insurance generally covers overseas medical emergencies, cancellation fees, accidental death, lost or damaged personal goods, rental vehicle excess and many other things.
- Travel accident insurance: Generally covers accidental death and injury incurred as a passenger on transport such as a plane, bus, train or ferry.
- Travel inconvenience insurance: Generally covers typical travel mishaps such as lost luggage, flight delay or forced arrangement cancellations. It can also cover funeral expenses in the case of an accidental death while travelling.
Along with having different types of coverage, the free travel insurance on credit cards can vary with regards to who the coverage extends to. For instance, most card policies will also cover spouses and dependents, but others might not.
Some card policies that offer to cover your spouse or children might require that you spend an extra amount on the card in order to activate the policy for your spouse or children. For example, a card may require that you spend a minimum of $250-$950 extra per spouse or child in order to extend cover to them as well as yourself.
4. Currency conversion fee
If your plan is for overseas use, it may be important to identify what the currency conversion fee is on your credit card. Typically these surcharges range anywhere from 2% to 4%, but there are still some cards that offer 0% foreign currency transaction fees.
It is important to weigh up all the options and find the card most appropriate for your travelling needs.
A reward credit card can also come with complimentary credit card insurance, which allows spenders to earn points while travelling. Some of these cards also allow you to use reward point purchases to activate the complimentary travel insurance plan.
6. What excess applies?
Check what excess you would have to pay if you did need to make a claim on your credit card travel insurance. The excess on a credit card policy can be as high as $500 per claim, whereas standalone insurance policies tend to have a lower excess.
The excess that applies will be in the product disclosure statement (PDS) for a credit card travel insurance policy.
7. Read the PDS!
Ensure that you thoroughly read the relevant credit card insurance product disclosure statement (PDS) when assessing travel insurance that comes with credit cards. This will detail exactly what is and isn’t covered under the policy, along with all other terms and conditions.
Credit cards with free travel insurance
As at 17 August 2016, these are the credit cards with complimentary travel insurance listed on CANSTAR’s database.
Check out our credit cards comparison table for fees, rates and other product information on these cards.
|Provider||Product||Domestic or International?||Max # days of cover||Activated by…||Min purchase to activate ($)||Reward point purchase can activate?|
|American Express||David Jones Platinum Card||Both||120 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|American Express||Platinum Edge Credit Card||Both||180 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|American Express||Qantas Premium Card||Both||120 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|American Express||Qantas Ultimate Card||Both||120 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|American Express||Velocity Platinum Card||Both||120 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|ANZ||Frequent Flyer Black||International||182 days||Purchase||250||No|
|ANZ||Frequent Flyer Platinum||International||180 days||Purchase||250||No|
|ANZ||Low Rate Platinum||International||182 days||Purchase||250||No|
|ANZ||Rewards Black||International||182 days||Purchase||250||No|
|ANZ||Rewards Platinum||International||182 days||Purchase||250||No|
|ANZ||Rewards Travel Adventures Card||Both||180 days||Purchase||250||No|
|Auswide Bank||Platinum MasterCard||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Bank Australia||Platinum Rewards Visa Credit Card||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||No|
|Bank of Melbourne||Amplify Platinum||International||90 days||Purchase||500||No|
|Bank of Melbourne||Amplify Signature||International||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|Bank of Melbourne||Vertigo Platinum||International||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|Bank of Sydney||Visa Platinum||Both||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|BankSA||Amplify Platinum||International||90 days||Purchase||500||No|
|BankSA||Amplify Signature||International||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|BankSA||Vertigo Platinum||International||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|BankVic||Visa Gold credit card||International||90 days||Purchase||0||No|
|Bankwest||Breeze Platinum MasterCard||Both||180 days||Purchase||500||Yes|
|Bankwest||More Platinum MasterCard||Both||180 days||Purchase||500||Yes|
|Bankwest||Qantas Platinum MasterCard||Both||180 days||Purchase||500||Yes|
|Bankwest||Zero Platinum MasterCard||Both||180 days||Purchase||500||Yes|
|Bendigo Bank||Platinum Visa||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|BOQ||Platinum Visa||International||180 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Citi||Emirates World MasterCard||Both||180 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Citi||Qantas Signature||Both||180 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Citi||Signature Rewards||Both||180 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Commonwealth Bank||Diamond Awards||Both||365 days||Notification||N/A||Yes|
|Commonwealth Bank||Gold Awards||International||90 days||Notification||N/A||Yes|
|Commonwealth Bank||Low Fee Gold MasterCard||International||90 days||Notification||N/A||Yes|
|Commonwealth Bank||Low Rate Gold MasterCard||International||90 days||Notification||N/A||No|
|Commonwealth Bank||Platinum Awards||Both||183 days||Notification||N/A||Yes|
|CUA||Platinum Credit Card||International||120 days||Purchase||500||No|
|Diners Club Australia||Frequent Flyer Dual Card||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||No|
|Diners Club Australia||Frequent Flyers Club Card||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||No|
|Diners Club Australia||Personal Card||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||No|
|Diners Club Australia||Personal Dual Card||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||No|
|G&C Mutual Bank||Platinum Visa Credit Card||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Heritage Bank||Platinum||International||90 days||Purchase||950||N/A|
|HSBC||Platinum Credit Card||International||120 days||Purchase||0||No|
|HSBC||Platinum Qantas Credit Card||International||120 days||Purchase||0||No|
|IMB||Platinum MasterCard||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Jetstar||Platinum MasterCard||Both||30 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Macquarie Bank||Black Card||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Macquarie Bank||Hilton HHonors Platinum Card||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Macquarie Bank||Platinum Card||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|MyState||Platinum MasterCard||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|NAB||flybuys Rewards Card||International||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|NAB||Premium Visa Card||International||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|NAB||Qantas Rewards Premium Card||International||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|NAB||Velocity Rewards Premium Card||International||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|P&N Bank||Visa Platinum||International||180 days||Purchase||500||N/A|
|QT Mutual Bank||Platinum MyCard||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Qudos Bank||Visa Platinum Credit Card||International||90 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Queenslanders CU||Platinum MyCard||Both||90 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|St.George Bank||Amplify Platinum||International||90 days||Purchase||500||No|
|St.George Bank||Amplify Signature||International||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|St.George Bank||Vertigo Platinum||International||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|Suncorp Bank||Platinum Card||International||180 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank||Visa Platinum Credit Card||International||122 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Virgin Money||VirginAust Velocity High Flyer Card||International||180 days||Purchase||0||No|
|Westpac||55 Day Platinum||Both||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|Westpac||Altitude Black||International||180 days||Purchase||500||No|
|Westpac||Altitude Platinum||International||90 days||Purchase||500||No|
|Woolworths||Qantas Platinum Credit Card||International||30 days||Purchase||0||Yes|
|Source: www.canstar.com.au Data collected 17 August 2016.|
Compare credit card travel insurance
Use the CANSTAR website to compare premium and frequent flyer type credit cards, to search for a credit card with a travel insurance policy included:
Sponsored products are paid advertisements and do not include all providers. CANSTAR receives a fee for referring you to the advertiser. CANSTAR may receive a fee for referral of leads from these products. See How We Get Paid for further information.
CANSTAR is an information provider and in giving you product information CANSTAR is not making any suggestion or recommendation about a particular credit card product. If you decide to apply for a credit card, you will deal directly with a financial institution, and not with CANSTAR. Rates and product information should be confirmed with the relevant financial institution. For more information, read CANSTAR’s Financial Services and Credit Guide (FSCG), detailed disclosure, important notes and liability disclaimer.
The Star Ratings in this table were awarded in (month, year). The search results do not include all providers and may not compare all features relevant to you. View the CANSTAR Credit Cards Star Ratings Methodology and Report. The rating shown is only one factor to take into account when considering products.