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Is credit card travel insurance enough, or should you buy a separate policy?

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Although most travel credit cards come with some form of travel insurance, many people might be unsure of what they’re covered for and whether it’s enough protection.

This guide will explain how to figure out your coverage limits, when you should consider purchasing a standalone travel policy, and how to get the most out of your credit card’s travel insurance.

What is credit card travel insurance?

Credit card travel insurance is travel coverage that you get via your credit card. Most travel credit cards include two forms of coverage: emergency medical insurance and trip protection insurance.

Most credit card travel insurance policies require cardholders to pay for parts of their trip, such as hotel rooms, flights, and rental cars, with the card in order to be eligible for coverage. When you pay for your travel tickets with your travel credit card, your insurance should activate automatically.

The exact duration, amount, and type of travel insurance coverage you receive varies between each credit card. It’s important to read the fine print, as your specific conditions will be outlined in your credit card policy.

How to check your credit card travel insurance policy details

To check your policy details, you can read your credit card policy on the card issuer’s website. Alternatively, you can call the customer service phone number on the back of your credit card to speak with a representative and confirm which travel insurance is included.

Different types of credit card travel insurance

Travel insurance is divided into different categories, and each have a unique amount of coverage. Check your insurance policy to see which types of insurance are included with your contract and how much coverage you’ll receive for each. For the most part, travel insurance includes the following:

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Emergency medical insurance

Emergency medical insurance covers any unexpected health care costs that come up as a result of illness or injury. This includes hospitalization, prescription drugs, ambulance services, and emergency dental treatment.

Travel accident insurance

Travel accident insurance will provide compensation to your family in the case of your accidental death or dismemberment. If this occurs, they’ll receive a lump sum payment equal to the total amount of your coverage outlined in your policy.

Trip cancellation insurance

Trip cancellation applies when something occurs before you leave home that prohibits you from taking your trip. Your policy will specify which events qualify. However, they generally include things such as a death in the family, natural disaster in your destination, or a medical emergency.

Trip interruption insurance

Trip interruption insurance applies if something occurs after you’ve left on your trip that requires you to return home earlier than expected. Covered reasons include events such as a medical emergency, death in the family, etc. Eligible reasons will be detailed in your policy.

Rental car insurance

Rental car insurance covers any damage or theft to a rental car. However, there are many subtypes of rental car insurance, such as accident insurance, car theft or damage insurance, and personal effects insurance, which may not all be included in your policy. To be eligible for this insurance, you will likely have to pay for the rental car with your travel credit card. Some contracts also require that you decline the insurance coverage offered by the rental agency.

Hotel burglary coverage

Hotel burglary insurance covers any items that are stolen from your hotel or motel room while you’re at the hotel or away from it.

You may have to pay for your hotel room on your credit card in order to be eligible for this coverage. You also may not be able to claim certain items, such as expensive jewelry and furs.

Credit card travel insurance vs. separate policy

While credit card travel insurance provides some protection for cardholders, it tends to be more limited than a standalone travel insurance policy. As such, travellers should consider how much coverage they’ll need, for how long they’ll need it, as well as whether they need to cover their families or travel companions.

Typically, credit card travel insurance will provider travellers under the age of 65 with $1-2 million (if any) in emergency medical insurance for around 21 days, or three weeks. However, this may not be enough depending where you’re travelling and what you’re planning on doing.

“Travel credit cards can come with some great perks and benefits,” says Brad Dance, chief customer officer at TuGo, a travel insurance provider. “But when it comes to travel insurance, travellers may end up with less coverage than they thought. The first thing travellers should do is check the maximum amount they’re covered for.”

Depending on where you’re travelling and what you’re planning on doing, unexpected medical expenses could be pricey. If your credit card insurance coverage isn’t enough, you’ll have to pay out of pocket.

“For example, travellers may think that a $2-million sum insured will suffice, but the reality is, if you get sick or injured on vacation and find yourself in a hospital outside of Canada, the hospital stay can cost upwards of US$20,000 per night,” says Dance. “So the costs incurred add up very fast.”

Travellers need to be sure they have adequate medical insurance for themselves and their travel companions for the entire duration of their trip before departing. If credit card insurance won’t cover the costs of emergency healthcare, it’s strongly recommended to purchase a separate policy as well. You can double up and have travel insurance through both your card and a standalone policy.

There are usually additional restrictions for those above the age of 65 or for those with pre-existing medical conditions. If either of these apply to you, check your credit card policy to ensure you’re covered. If you aren’t, consider purchasing a separate travel insurance policy that will keep you insured for the duration of your trip.

How to use your credit card's travel insurance

If you buy your travel tickets using your credit card, your travel insurance will be activated automatically when your trip begins. If something happens during your trip, it’s essential that you contact your credit card company as soon as possible and keep your documents, invoices, police records, etc. to corroborate your claim.

To contact your credit card travel insurance company, you can call your credit card provider or send them an email. Most companies will have a toll-free number you can call from both inside and outside of Canada. From there, a customer service representative will open your claim and give you further instructions about how to submit your relevant paperwork.

Credit cards with travel insurance

Travel credit cards are a great way to collect points, save on gas and airfare, access travel insurance and many other great discounts. Although each credit card has its pros and cons, here are some of the best credit cards with travel insurance:

HSBC World Elite Mastercard

HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®

Rated 2.9/5 stars.

Our Review
  • 3% Earn 3% back in travel rewards on travel-related purchases.
  • 2% Earn 2% in travel rewards on gas, grocery, and drugstore purchases.
  • 1% Earn 1% on all other purchases.

  • Welcome Offer None
  • Annual Rewards $310 Learn how we calculate this.
  • Annual Fee $149 (first year waived)
  • Minimum Income Required Individual: $80,000 Household: $150,000

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard has emergency medical insurance up to $2 million, car rental and hotel insurance, and purchase assurance for up to 90 days. This credit card also has no foreign transaction fees, access to airport lounges, and discounts on hotel bookings.

This card is ideal for people who want to use their travel credit card to cover their basic medical insurance needs while also accessing many other lifestyle perks and great rewards.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

Rated 3.3/5 stars.

Our Review

  • Welcome Offer N/A
  • Annual Fee $129 (first year waived)
  • Interest Rates Purchases: 19.99%, Cash Advances: 22.99%
  • Recommended Credit 740+

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card offers $1 million in emergency medical coverage, as well as travel accident insurance, car rental insurance, trip cancellation insurance, flight delay insurance, delayed or lost baggage insurance, and theft insurance.

This card is also linked to Air Canada’s Aeroplan rewards program, which offers many benefits for booking flights, like getting your first bag checked for free.

How to choose the right travel credit card

Different cards have different insurance coverage options and rewards programs. Consider these before signing up for a credit card to ensure you’re optimizing its benefits. When choosing which travel credit card is right for you, think about:

  • How long you’re planning to travel for

  • Whether you feel comfortable relying on your credit card travel coverage or would get enhanced coverage by purchasing a separate travel insurance policy

  • How important benefits and rewards are to you

Travel credit cards can be a great way to collect points and upgrade your travel experience. And the travel insurance on your credit card can be an easy way to protect yourself while travelling — so long as you ensure that it provides adequate coverage in case of an emergency. Compare different travel credit cards and standalone travel insurance policies to make sure you’ve got adequate protection.

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