The Best Credit Card Travel Benefits, Ranked

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Frequent travelers are constantly trying to decide if everything they pack is going to be worth its size and weight in their suitcase. But there’s one thing that you should have with you that will offer more value for its size and weight than a credit card.

The right travel credit card will offer you not just a means of payment and rewards, but numerous cardholder benefits that can make all the difference when you’re traveling. These benefits can save you time and money while allowing you to be more productive. And some of the top travel benefits will even reimburse you when things go wrong.

Here are the five top credit card benefits that you shouldn’t leave home without:

1. Global Entry/TSA PreCheck fee credits. The worst thing about air travel has to be passing through the TSA security checkpoints. But when you have TSA PreCheck, which comes by itself or with Global Entry, you can skip the lines and leave your shoes, jackets and belts on. While the PreCheck application fee costs $85, and Global Entry costs $100, several credit cards will reimburse you for these fees. Eligible cards include the Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard, The Platinum Card from American Express, the Expedia+ Voyager Card from Citi, the Mastercard Black Card, and the Mastercard Gold Card.

2. Airport business lounge access. Airports can be one of the most annoying places to spend time in, unless you have access to a business lounge. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers you access to the Delta SkyClubs, Priority Pass Select lounges and American Express’s own Centurion Clubs.  Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card also includes a Delta SkyClub membership.

3. Elite hotel status. You have to stay many nights a qualifying properties to earn hotel status and receive perks like room upgrades, late checkouts and free breakfast. But you can fast track your way into these benefits by having the right credit card. For example, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase offers you automatic Silver Elite status each year and in 2019, it will offer an additional 15 elite night credits each calendar year. The Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express offers Gold status and even Diamond status if you spend $40,000 on your card in a calendar year. Finally, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card from Chase offers Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member.

4. Travel delay insurance. It’s inevitable that one of your trips will be disrupted and you’ll have to pay for unexpected food and lodging costs. However, the best travel rewards cards include coverage that reimburse you for these expenses. These cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Citi ThankYou Premier Card, Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite™ Mastercard, and the United Explorer Card from Chase.

5. Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance. One of traveler’s greatest fears is to miss out on a trip, or have to return home early due to an unforeseeable event. This insurance covers things like injuries, illness, severe weather and even terrorist attacks. Cards that offer this coverage include the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard, Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, Citi ThankYou Premier Card and the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card.

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