If you didn’t travel much in 2020 and aren’t sure what 2021 will look like, then it might feel like a waste to hold a fancy travel credit card. In fact, some benefits have become more valuable than ever as travel habits change, along with budgets.
When applying for a new credit card — or simply deciding which ones in your wallet to keep vs. dump — here are four travel credit card benefits you absolutely need in 2021:
While your credit card’s trip insurance likely won’t cover disinclination to travel (perhaps a sudden increase in coronavirus cases has you reconsidering plans to travel for the holidays), it probably can cover other coronavirus-related cancellations. Most credit cards with trip insurance will cover all or part of your trip if you or someone you’re traveling with actually gets sick.
2. Rental car insurance. If you are one of the many travelers trading air travel for a road trip, you may find yourself renting a car. When you do rent that car, charge it to a credit card with rental car insurance, as it can help pay for some or all of the costs of damage or theft.
3. Flexible cancellation policies. Many credit cards offer big-time rewards in the form of points and miles as either a sign-up bonus or for spending money on your card (or both). Just ensure that your particular currency of points or miles enables you to get a refund should you need to cancel your trip.
4. Statement credits for at-home spending. Especially now, issuers are throwing in benefits designed for sheltering in place. As an example, you will find credits for Variis by Equinox, an app designed by the gym that brings Equinox’s workouts to your living room. Plus, more cards offer credits toward takeout or discounts on delivery, so you have a good excuse to order in from the new pizza place you’ve been pining for.
Bottom line: Premium travel credit cards aren’t dead — but you should ensure the card you have has benefits you will actually use. Whether they are travel-specific benefits that enable more cancellation flexibility or the benefits have hardly anything to do with travel at all, the right credit card can make your life a little more posh and a little less of a headache.
In 2021, don’t be seduced by benefits like a Southwest Companion Pass or Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. Travel insurance and flexible cancellation policies are less sexy, but they can be the most valuable credit card benefits of all.
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