Activation process is usually straightforward (e.g. booking trip over $500 with your card)
No price increase for expensive destinations such as USA or Japan
Expensive excess charge (often around $500 vs $200 for standard policy)
The benefit limits may not be enough for expensive destinations such as USA
Many don't cover pre-existing conditions (e.g. Qantas Money)
Many don't cover you over the age of 79
Most don't cover high-risk activities such as skiing or riding a motorcycle
Credit card travel insurance policies have changed a lot since the pandemic. For instance, Finder analysis in 2023 found that there are at least 14 providers and 58 cards that offer some form of COVID cover. But the base level of cover may not be enough if your trip involves extreme sports, travel to higher-risk areas or if you have pre-existing conditions.
If you already have a credit card that includes complimentary travel insurance, then it might be worth using instead of taking out standard cover. Just keep in mind that:
It's not worth claiming for less expensive mishaps
Most credit card travel insurance policies have a $500 excess. You need to pay this when you make a claim. This can make claiming pointless in some situations.
For example, my luggage was delayed for just over 24 hours on a trip to Scotland. I could have made a claim to buy some essentials but I'd have had to pay a $500 excess. Instead, I persevered with what I had in my hand luggage, since there's no way essentials would have cost me as much as $500.
Some policies will only cover the cardholder
If you're not sure, you should call and ask the insurer. I looked through the product disclosure statement (PDS) of several complimentary travel insurance policies and it wasn't always clear it would cover more than the cardholder.
You won't be covered for pre-existing medical conditions
Standard travel insurance can can cover some pre-existing medical conditions. Insurers have made it a fairly straightforward process. If your conditions aren't listed in the PDS, you'll need to fill out a short questionnaire and they'll let you know if they can cover that condition or not.
It's a similar issue if you're over 79. Lots of standard travel insurance policies will cover you, many credit cards don't.
The benefit limits may not be enough
There's no price increase for expensive countries such as USA or Japan. That's great, except there's a reason these destinations should cost more. Medical care is expensive, flights tend to cost more and accommodation usually isn't cheap.
Some complimentary insurance products come with lower limits than standard travel insurance. As a benchmark, a standalone comprehensive travel insurance policy can offer unlimited medical cover, unlimited cancellation, $25,000 for lost or stolen luggage and $30,000 for travel delay expenses.
Not all credit card travel insurance policies are created equal
There are sometimes big differences. For example, our credit card specialist Amy Bradney-George found that Qantas Money's policy states that it doesn't cover any pre-existing conditions and excludes IVF pregnancy (cover for natural pregnancy is available for the first 22 weeks).
Others offer much better value for money. For example, Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard, which won the 2023 Finder Award for Best Travel Credit Card, has the option of paying for upgraded benefits, including cancellation and rental vehicle excess cover.
It's automatically available when you have an active, eligible card and are travelling overseas. I used this card on a trip to Japan in 2023. So did Amy when she travelled to the UK.
Keep in mind though that this level of cover wasn't free. You have to pay extra for the upgraded benefits. The base level only covers overseas emergency medical assistance and baggage. Cover is also limited to 31 days.
Meet our travel expert Angus Kidman
Angus Kidman is the international editor-at-large at Finder. He's an award-winning journalist, avid travel enthusiast and passionate frequent flyer. Angus appears regularly on Sunrise, Today, The Project, Seven News and other TV and radio shows to share his expert tips.
Angus's top credit card insurance tips
Travelling as a couple? Some credit card insurance covers you and a partner, but others don't. So check the fine print.
Credit card insurance generally requires you to register, it isn't enough to just pay using your card.
It's rare for credit card insurance to cover domestic travel, for that, you'll usually need a separate policy.
Compare quotes for standalone travel insurance
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Frequently asked questions
If you already have a credit card and use it regularly, the complimentary travel insurance included with your card can save you money. However, not all policies are created equal. Most do not cover pre-existing conditions and there are still some that do not cover claims related to COVID.
Credit cards will typically include some travel insurance but don't just assume that they do. Call the provider to find out and make sure it covers more than the basics (e.g. medical expenses and personal liability).
Many credit card travel insurance policies cover the same things as standard travel insurance now. This can include medical expenses, cancellation cover, lost luggage and COVID-related expenses. However, this can vary. Credit card insurance typically doesn't cover pre-existing conditions, standard travel insurance can. Similarly, many credit card policies don't offer cover if you're over 79 and charge a bigger excess than a standalone policy.
If you get a credit card with comprehensive overseas travel insurance, it will typically include cover for:
Emergency medical issues
Cancellation (for specific situations)
Major flight delays
Lost and stolen baggage, travel documents and valuables
Hijacking, kidnap and ransom
Bankwest Complimentary Travel Insurance PDS (accessed September 2023)
Qantas Premier Credit Card Complimentary PDS Travel Insurance (accessed September 2023)
Westpac Complimentary Travel Insurance PDS (accessed September 2023)
Southern Cross Travel Insurance PDS (accessed September 2023)
Gary Ross Hunter is an editor at Finder, specialising in insurance. He’s been writing about life, travel, home, car, pet and health insurance for over 6 years and regularly appears as an insurance expert in publications including The Sydney Morning Herald, news.com.au, The Telegraph, Explore Travel and Escape. Gary holds a Kaplan Tier 1 General Insurance (General Advice) certification and a Kaplan Tier 1 Generic Knowledge certification which meets the requirements of ASIC Regulatory Guide 146 (RG146).
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