The list of benefits offered by a rewards credit card doesn’t start and end with the ability to earn cash back or travel points. Most also offer a suite of ancillary benefits that deliver considerable value – at no extra cost. From rental car and travel medical insurance to airport lounge access and more, we breakdown some of the lesser-known perks offered by many of Canada’s best credit cards (including those with annual fees of $100 or less).
All three major credit card providers (American Express, Visa and Mastercard) offer phone concierge services. Akin to having your own personal assistant, you can use these services to make numerous requests – from reserving tables at restaurants and handling travel arrangements (such as hotel or car rentals bookings) to purchasing concert tickets and more. Concierge services can be particularly useful when making arrangements in a foreign country where you don’t speak the native tongue or aren’t familiar with which attractions to visit.
Numerous credit cards have phone concierge services baked into their annual fee at no additional cost, so you’ll want to read up on your card’s terms to see whether you’re entitled to take advantage of this perk.
Car rental insurance and discounts
The price of a rental car can climb to hundreds of dollars, particularly if you make a booking during peak periods. Add to that the cost of rental car insurance and gas and you may start to reconsider your plans for a road trip.
The good news is a number of credit cards offer perks that can help you save on your rental car.
Most premium credit cards offer collision and loss coverage on rental cars for up to $65,000 in damages over a 31-day period. So, if your rental car is lost, broken into or damaged during the coverage period, you’ll be insured under your credit card and can avoid having to shell out extra money to purchase a collision and loss coverage waiver (CLW). Many rental agencies charge upwards of $20 per day for a CLW, so you can pocket some considerable savings on insurance thanks to this credit card feature. There are some important caveats to note however, including the fact most credit card car insurance does not include third-party coverage, so you’ll want to get familiar with the terms of your card’s insurance policy ahead of time.
In addition to providing damage and loss coverage, a number of credit cards also offer special discounts on car rental bookings. For example, if you carry an eligible Scotiabank credit card, you can receive upwards of 25% off the base rate on rental cars from Avis. The same is true for select CIBC credit cards that offer up to 25% in savings from Budget Rent a Car locations in Canada and the U.S.
Not to mention, if you have one of the best cash back credit cards in your wallet, you could get as much as 4% back on every dollar you spend on gas.
It’s always smart to be prepared for minor hiccups (as well as the potentially major ones) when travelling abroad. Luckily, numerous credit cards provide travel insurance as an additional perk that’ll help save you time and money while offering some much-needed peace of mind.
The majority of premium credit cards offer emergency medical travel coverage in the six-figures for you and your family who experience critical health issues while abroad. In most cases, your credit card will also offer additional travel protections such as baggage loss insurance (that provides compensation in case your checked-in luggage was lost by your airline) as well as flight delay insurance (which can reimburse expenses you had to pay for due to a flight delay, such as last-minute accommodations). Insurance terms and coverage tend to vary by each credit card, so it’s recommended you read up on your card’s terms to ensure you’re fully covered or whether you’ll need to buy supplementary insurance.
Airport lounge access
If you’re a frequent flyer, odds are you’ve been stuck in an airport due to a flight delay or a long layover longing for a secure wi-fi connection and a comfortable lounge seat more than once. While an airport lounge may have everything you’re looking for, it can cost you a pretty penny just to access it. That is, unless you have a credit card with airport lounge access.
A number of premium credit cards either offer free or steep discounts on memberships to hundreds of airport lounges across the world. While lounge perks can vary (for example, some credit cards offer Priority Pass memberships while others provide access to Mastercard Airport Experiences) your credit card can help to seriously upgrade your airport travel experience. In most cases, only credit cards with annual fees of $100 or more offer lounge access.
If you own a car or regularly commute across long distances, you may want to consider picking up a credit card that offers roadside assistance as a complimentary perk. Roadside assistance can offer tremendous value for drivers who are stuck in a bind, with a broad range of coverage that includes car tows, flat tire replacements and emergency fuel deliveries (in situations where you’re out of gas while out on the road).
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