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Credit cards with complimentary travel insurance can save you hundreds of dollars on cover for overseas trips – and even for some domestic ones. But because the insurance you get through a credit card depends on the type of card you have, the policy provider and your individual circumstances, there isn’t actually one “best” credit card travel insurance policy for everyone.
Here we explain what's usually included, how to activate your policy, who it covers, possible restrictions and how to find an option that works with your travel plans.
HSBC Credit Card Offer
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 36 months on balance transfers Discounted $29 first-year annual fee
Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply
HSBC Credit Card Offer
Enjoy a 0% introductory balance transfer rate for 36 months, with no balance transfer fee.
$29 first-year annual fee (reverts to $129 thereafter)
Complimentary travel insurance and 2 lounge passes per year
Earn 1 HSBC Rewards Point per $1 spent in Australia and 2 overseas
Just as there are different types of insurance you can buy, there are different policies that you can get included with your credit card. Here's a breakdown of the main types: Complimentary travel insurance
International travel insurance. Cards that offer international travel insurance usually give you comprehensive cover for overseas trips, including emergency medical and dental cover, travel delays and lost or stolen luggage.
Transit accident insurance. Usually this insurance gives you cover for accidents when you're travelling overseas on a plane, cruise ship, train or other eligible vehicle.
Car rental excess insurance. Helps cover the cost of any excess you need to pay a car hire company after an accident or other eligible issues. Depending on the policy, you could get cover when you rent a car overseas, in Australia, or both.
Interstate flight inconvenience insurance. If you're travelling to another state or territory in Australia, this type of insurance can help cover additional meals and accommodation costs if your flight is delayed more than a few hours. Flight cancellation, lost or damaged luggage and other key issues may also be covered, depending on the policy.
Complimentary insurance for purchases
Purchase protection insurance. Offered on both premium and mid-level credit cards, purchase protection insurance can cover the cost of theft, accidental damage or loss of items paid for with an eligible card. Usually, this insurance is valid for up to 90 days from the time of the purchase.
Extended warranty insurance. This cover offers an extension on the manufacturer's warrant for eligible items purchased in Australia. Usually, this insurance will double the warranty, up to a maximum period of 12 months. For example, if you bought an item with a one-year manufacturer's warranty, this cover would allow you to get insurance for a total of 24 months.
Best price guarantee cover. Also known as a "buyer's guarantee", best price guarantee cover will refund the difference in price if you buy an item and then find it at a lower cost somewhere else (in the same geographic area). Usually, you have 21 days from the time of the purchase to submit a claim and will have to provide proof of the lower price.
Check the benefits of any credit card you're looking at to see what complimentary insurance you can get. And make sure you read the policy to decide if it's what you want.
How can I use international credit card travel insurance?
Most credit cards that offer complimentary international travel insurance require you to activate the policy in some way before you’ll be eligible for cover when you travel. Usually this is a simple process that requires you to meet a couple of requirements before you go overseas. The most common requirements for policy activation include:
Book a return ticket. Most credit card travel insurance policies require you to have booked and paid for your return to Australia before you leave the country.
Use your credit card to book your travel. With this requirement, you need to use your credit card to pay for your overseas flights or other transport (such as a cruise) before you leave the country.
Use your card to pay for some of your travel. Some credit card companies outline a minimum dollar amount you must prepay towards your travel using your eligible card. For example, if you have a St.George credit card, you must use it for at least $500 of your prepaid travel costs to be eligible for cover.
Activate the policy online. Sometimes you may need to activate your credit card travel insurance online to be eligible for full cover. For example, if you have a CommBank card with included travel insurance, you can get Base Cover at any time but will get more coverage by activating your policy online through NetBank or the CommBank App.
Book travel through a specific service. Sometimes you may be able to activate your cover by booking your travel through a specific service. For example, if you have a Citi card that offers travel insurance, one of the ways you can activate it is by booking your travel through the Citi Travel Program.
Use points to pay for travel. If you have a rewards credit card that includes travel insurance as an extra, you may be able to activate the policy by using points to pay for some or all of your travel costs before you leave Australia.
Usually, having a return travel ticket and paying for some or all it using the credit card that offers travel insurance will activate the policy. But as the requirements do vary, it’s worth checking with individual credit cards before you apply so that you’re clear on what you need to do to use this insurance.
Who is covered by my credit card travel insurance?
As long as you meet the activation and eligibility requirements, complimentary travel insurance always covers the primary cardholder. Most policies also offer cover for your spouse and dependent children when they meet eligibility requirements, which typically include some or all of the following:
They must be travelling with you for the duration of the trip.
Some or all of their travel must have been paid for using your credit card.
They must have a return ticket to Australia before the start of the trip.
Can I use my credit card travel insurance for friends or colleagues?
If you have a personal credit card, you can usually only get complimentary travel insurance for an eligible spouse and dependent children. If you want to cover people other than this, you could consider the following options:
Additional cardholders. Personal credit cards may offer complimentary travel insurance to additional cardholders when they meet the activation requirements. If you request to share your account with a friend, new partner or colleague, this may give them access to the insurance cover when they travel.
Business credit cards. Some business credit cards offer complimentary travel insurance for employees and/or additional cardholders. For example, the American Express Velocity Business includes overseas travel insurance for the primary cardholder and any additional cardholders, as well as eligible spouse and dependent children when the activation requirements are met before you travel.
What are the age limits and restrictions for complimentary credit card insurance?
Whether your cover comes through a credit card or you buy it outright, it’s more likely you’ll face restrictions if you’re over 65 or have a pre-existing medical condition. Here are the key details for credit cards.
Most complimentary credit card travel insurance policies cover people up to the age of 79. However, some restrictions may come into effect earlier than that depending on the card and your circumstances.
For example, if you’re under 50 years of age and have been diagnosed with diabetes or glucose intolerance, there is a variation for the cover you could get with a Bankwest credit card. Read our guide on credit card insurance and age limits for more information.
Pre-existing medical conditions
Complimentary credit card travel insurance policies have limitations around pre-existing medical conditions, with some conditions excluding you from cover. This term covers conditions you are currently being treated for or have been diagnosed with by a professional prior to the start of your trip, with common examples including:
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Ongoing dental work
Alcoholism or drug addiction
Psychological and psychiatric conditions
Depending on the condition, you may still be able to get coverage for any unexpected events that relate to it – for example unforeseen issues during pregnancy. Some policies will also outline specific coverage options for different pre-existing conditions, including coverage if you pay an additional fee to upgrade the policy.
What should I do if I have a pre-existing medical condition?
Here’s what to do if you want credit card travel insurance but have a pre-existing medical condition:
Check the credit card insurance product disclosure statement (PDS) to find out what’s covered and what’s excluded.
See if there is any information on exceptions.
Contact the insurance provider (not the credit card company), explain your condition and ask if there is a way for you to get coverage through the specific credit card you’re interested in.
When you have a credit card with travel insurance, contact the insurer before you travel to ensure that your pre-existing medical condition has been approved for cover. This may attract an additional fee, but will allow you to travel with cover that works for you.
Note: Remember to also take down details of any conversation you have with the insurance provider so you can refer to it later if you need to make a claim.
How does complimentary interstate flight inconvenience insurance work?
This is another type of complimentary travel insurance you can get through some credit cards, and offers cover for trips in Australia. What you can claim depends on the card and the insurance policy, but some of the most common options include:
Flight delays. If your flight is delayed for set amount of time (eg. 4 hours or more) and no alternative means of transport is provided, you could claim compensation for food and refreshments up to a set limit (eg. $100).
Baggage delays. If your baggage is delayed (usually by more than 12 hours) you can claim compensation for essentials, up to a set limit.
Lost or damaged items. If your items are accidentally lost, damaged or stolen during the trip, this insurance could help cover the cost of repairs or replacement items.
Funeral costs. In the event of accidental death during the trip, funeral costs such as the expense of transporting your remains or the cost of cremation/burial could be covered by an interstate flight inconvenience policy.
Cancellations. Usually, you'll only get cover for very specific reasons if you need to cancel a trip. For example, if the travel is non-refundable and you or a close family member becomes seriously ill or injured before the trip.
Similar to international travel insurance, you usually need to have a return flight booked for travel to another state or territory in Australia. Eligible trips are also usually covered for 7 to 14 days with this type of complimentary insurance.
As with any insurance, check the terms and conditions in the policy booklet or contact the insurance provider to find out when you're covered, what you can claim and any excess costs you'll pay.
What are the costs that come with credit card complimentary travel insurance?
While complimentary travel insurance gets you out of paying a premium for your overseas cover, there are still costs to consider before choosing a credit card that includes this perk. The key charges to look for are:
Excess amounts. This is what you’ll pay when you have to make a claim on your complimentary travel insurance policy. Credit card travel insurance excess amounts range from $0 to $500 per claim and vary between cards and policies, so make sure you read the fine print and budget for this cost.
Claim limits. Usually you will only be able to claim up to a certain dollar value for each type of cover included in your travel insurance policy. For example, you may be covered for up to $5,000 on claims for lost or damaged luggage and up to $50,000 on medical expenses. This affects the overall value of the insurance – even if you’re not paying for it upfront.
Other fees. If you need to request cover for a pre-existing medical condition, or if you're over the maximum age for standard cover, then an additional premium may be charged before you can use your travel insurance. You may also have to pay for a medical assessment. These costs vary and usually aren’t disclosed in the product disclosure statements, so you may have to call the insurance provider to find out what additional charges may apply.
How to make an claim
Any claims you make on your complimentary credit card insurance must be submitted to the insurance company (not your credit card provider). Allianz, Chubb and QBE are the three main companies that underwrite credit card travel insurance. Your credit card insurance product disclosure statement will provide details of this arrangement and how you can make a claim or enquiry for your cover.
As with standalone insurance policies, claims must be made as soon as possible after the incident and within the specified timeframe to be eligible for cover. You may also be asked to submit supporting documentation for your claim, including:
Your credit card statement showing the relevant purchase/s required to activate the policy (ie a travel ticket)
A copy of a police report, if you're claiming for lost or stolen items
Proof of ownership for lost, stolen or damaged items
Flight itineraries and letters from carriers detailing delayed flights or unexpected events
What else should I consider when comparing credit cards with complimentary travel insurance?
While your priority could be to get travel insurance through a credit card, it’s essential that you also compare other features of the credit card. Even if you travel regularly, these features usually have a greater impact than the travel insurance:
Annual fee. Credit cards with complimentary travel insurance typically have annual fees ranging from $87 to $1,500. Some may also offer no annual fee in the first year or if you meet a fee waiver, but either way you should make sure the regular benefits you can get outweigh this cost.
Standard interest rate. Often these cards have higher than average purchase rates. So if you end up booking travel and carrying a balance, the cost could quickly add up.
Foreign currency fee. Planning on taking your credit card overseas with you? A fee worth 2-4% of every transaction made overseas or in a foreign currency usually applies, so it’s worth checking this charge or comparing cards that offer $0 foreign fees before you apply.
Cash advance rates and fees. If you think you’ll use your credit card to get cash out overseas (or for other cash advance transactions), be sure to check the standard interest rate and fee that will apply so you can decide if it’s affordable.
Rewards or frequent flyer points. Many of the cards offering travel insurance also earn reward or frequent flyer points for everyday spending. This can help you save on travel and other lifestyle benefits, but only if the value of the rewards outweighs the other costs of the card.
Introductory offers. Want bonus points, no annual fee in the first year or a 0% interest rate? If that’s the case, it’s worth considering these features – just remember they only offer temporary value.
Complimentary extras. Other complimentary extras such as purchase insurance, interstate flight inconvenience insurance, concierge services, airport lounge access and flight or travel vouchers can add hundreds of dollars to the card you choose. But the value depends on how you use the card and whether or not these extras are useful to you on an ongoing basis.
What should I be wary of when comparing complimentary insurance?
Some of the other factors you'll want to take into account with complimentary credit card travel insurance include:
Eligibility and activation of insurance. Make sure that you're eligible for the cover and that the terms and conditions make it so that the policy still suits your needs. Credit card providers also usually require you to activate the policy in some way. For most cards, you will "activate" or become eligible for insurance by purchasing your return travel ticket using your credit card. Others may require you to log in to your account online and fill out a simple form to activate your policy before each trip.
Length of travel. Most credit card complimentary travel insurance policies will cover trips of between three and six months in length. Make sure you consider the specific coverage length offered by your card when you first start planning your trip. If you plan to travel for longer, you may be able to request an extension (for a fee).
Levels of coverage. Some credit card companies provide travel insurance for several cards, and offer different levels of coverage based on the account you have. For example, St.George complimentary travel insurance is available for up to six months with an Amplify Signature card, while it's only available for up to three months on an Amplify Platinum card. Different claim limits and excesses may also apply, so make sure you check what level of coverage your card offers when referring to the insurance policy booklet.
Terms and conditions. While this may be a tedious practice, reading the terms and conditions is crucial to ensure you understanding the opportunities and boundaries of your insurance. If you have any doubt about your cover after referring to such documents, you may wish to contact the insurance provider directly.
Complimentary credit card travel insurance is a popular feature that has the potential to add hundreds of dollars of value to your card – if you can find the right policy for you. Looking at the activation requirements, the people eligible for cover, the age or medical limitations and the other features of the credit card will help you decide which credit card with complimentary insurance offers the most value and coverage for your needs.
Frequently asked questions
Credit card transit accident insurance protects cardholders against accidents that may result in bodily harm or death when travelling on a licensed plane, train, bus, ferry or other form of specified transportation. This cover is sometimes referred to as transport accident insurance and also applies when you are boarding or leaving a transport vessel.
In most cases, the cover offered under a transit accident insurance policy will be for serious injuries – including the loss of a hand, foot or eyesight – as well as accidental death. But cover does vary between policies, so it is important to read the insurance product disclosure statement for full details on what is covered.
This type of question comes up a lot when people are looking at credit cards with complimentary travel insurance – and the answer depends on the card and the policy provider.
For example the overseas travel and medical insurance policy offered on the ANZ Rewards Platinum will cover hypertension (aka high blood pressure) as long as it is stable and you're not waiting for treatment, on a hospital waiting list or awaiting the results of medical tests or investigations. You also need to meet the other eligibility requirements for this cover.
It is useful to have your travel documents and proof of your credit card payment for the trip with you when you are travelling. These details will be needed if you make a claim. You may be able to access them online from wherever you are, or contact the insurer to find out about the deadline for submitting new claims.
Details of your cover are outlined in your complimentary credit card insurance booklet or Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). If you don't currently have a copy, you can request one through your credit card issuer. If you have specific questions about the insurance cover, contact the insurance provider directly using the details in the PDS.
In most cases, the easiest way to get details of your insurance policy is to check the credit card complimentary insurance policy booklet (also known as the product disclosure statement or PDS). If the policy numbers are not listed on it, call the insurance provider – not your credit card provider – to get these details.
If you need the policy details for a travel company or cruise, you can also ask for a letter of eligibility.
Another detail to be aware of: the way complimentary credit card travel insurance is set up means you don't get an individual policy number, but are covered by the overall master policy number. So if a cruise or travel company asks for your policy number, it's the master policy number you'll need to give them for complimentary credit card travel insurance.
Some complimentary comprehensive travel insurance policies do offer cover for travel agent fees if you have to cancel or change your plans for a specific reason.
For example, if you were badly injured, couldn't travel on the dates of your booking and the travel agent you booked with charged a cancellation fee. Depending on the policy, you might be able to claim some or all of that cancellation fee.
But be aware that complimentary travel insurance won't cover errors and omissions – including those made by your travel agent. That's why you should always read the policy booklet for full details, or call the insurance provider.
The quick answer is no, as almost all credit card insurance policies require your trip to start in Australia for the insurance to be activated – and many also require your trip to return to Australia.
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Amy Bradney-George has been writing about personal finance for more than 13 years – including over 600 articles as a senior writer for Finder. Her work has also appeared in publications including Money Magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, Financy, ABC News Australia and Equity Magazine. Amy has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Drama from Griffith University.
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