These Lesser-Known Credit Card Benefits Help When Things Go Wrong

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It’s the day of your flight, and you’ve made it to the airport without an email notification or call from an (800) number, notifying you that your flight has been delayed. You make it through security, pass by the departure monitors, and everything’s still looking good.

As you queue up for boarding, the gate agent comes on the PA system and announces that the flight has been delayed by just 30 minutes. Not a big deal, until that 30 minutes turns into an hour, and then a few hours, and next thing you know you’re looking at a 12 hour delay or even a cancellation.

There’s probably a long list of 4-letter words that will be going through your head at that point, but one more that should be top of mind is “card” and more specifically, credit card.

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I received a note related to my AAdvangate Platinum Select credit card a few days ago highlighting some enhancements that will be rolling out next month. Nothing big related to earning or bonus categories, but instead things that I’d consider to be behind the scenes and often overlooked. In fact, I’ll fully admit that I couldn’t begin to tell you the different benefits from the above categories across all of the credit cards in my wallet.

It’s a nice reminder of the coverage that can protect you then things inevitably go wrong. In particular, a few of the enhancements that jumped out to me include:

  • Trip delay protection: Covered expenses include meals, ground transportation, and hotel expenditures up to $500 for delays lasting over 12 hours
  • Baggage delay protection: Covered expenses include necessary items up to $100 for delays lasting over 6 hours
  • Trip cancellation insurance: Up to $5,000 coverage with fewer restrictions and exclusions 

While we tend to focus on the big-ticket components of credit cards such as bonus categories, these often overlooked travel benefits are available with most credit cards. The restrictions, exclusions and dollar value of the benefits do vary by card issuer and card type, and can be found in the booklet you presumably threw out after receiving your card.

The reality of travel is that things will go wrong, and it’s important to know what benefits you have available to you through your credit card. For example, nowadays airlines are much stingier with providing hotel accommodations, often reserving these only for top-tier elites in cases of mechanical delays, and rarely to anyone in cases of weather-related delays. Knowing that your credit card will provide up to a $500 benefit in those cases can provide peace of mind that you won’t be left out in the cold.

Keep in mind that these credit card benefits should augment any compensation or benefits offered by the airlines as a result of delays, cancellations, and lost baggage, and should be the first place to start.

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