Finance

How to Protect Yourself and Your Finances When Traveling

From the Mint team: Mint may be compensated if you click on the links to our issuer partners’ offers that appear in this article, including Chase. Our partners do not endorse, review or approve the content. Any links to Mint Partners were added after the creation of the posting. Mint Partners had no influence on the creation, direction or focus of this article unless otherwise specifically stated.

2022 is a year when many people are looking to make up for the travel experiences they lost out on during 2020 and 2021. But some would-be travelers are understandably skittish after losing money when their 2020 vacation plans were abruptly canceled and are now looking for more travel protection options.

If that sounds like a familiar situation, then you might be looking to proceed a little more cautiously this time around. Here are some ways to protect your finances against cancelation costs and other unforeseen vacation expenses.

Understand the Cancelation Policies

When my husband and I booked a trip to Ireland for May 2020, we reserved various Irish apartments and houses through Airbnb. Like many would-be travelers around this time, we had to cancel the trip when the Covid-19 pandemic hit – but that wasn’t the only bad news. Unfortunately, Airbnb would only refund 100% of our money if we took it as credit for a future trip. If we wanted the money back on our credit cards, we would only get 50% of our deposit. 

That experience taught me to read through the cancelation policy the next time I book a vacation. If you’re planning a trip, understand how late you can cancel and still receive a refund. See if you have to prove you have Covid or another emergency to get a refund, or if you can cancel for no specific reason. 

Don’t take a website’s terms at face value. Read through reviews to see how easy it is to get a refund. Some companies that promise easy refunds on their website may be less cooperative in real life. 

Why You Should Buy Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can help provide protection when something goes wrong before or during your vacation so you can avoid losing money. For example, if you break your leg a day before you’re supposed to leave and have to cancel the trip, travel insurance can help you recoup any non-refundable deposits. 

If you’re already on vacation and have to visit the ER, travel insurance may cover the medical costs you incur.

Unlike most types of insurance, you buy travel insurance for each specific trip, not as an annual or lifetime policy. The cost of travel insurance depends on where you’re going, the trip length, the number of people covered and other factors. In general, you may spend between 5% and 10% of the trip’s total cost on travel insurance.  

Before you purchase a travel insurance plan, shop around and get quotes from multiple companies. Make sure to look beyond just the price tag and see what you’re actually getting with each policy. It may be worthwhile to spend extra for a more comprehensive policy.

Many travel experts agree that you only need to purchase travel coverage when leaving the country. If you’re vacationing domestically, then your health insurance plan should pay for any medical emergencies. If you use a travel credit card, that may cover most emergency cancelation fees. But if you’re going abroad, then buying travel insurance is a wise move.

Use Credit Cards for Extra Coverage

Some personal finance experts believe you shouldn’t use credit cards because they can cause you to overspend and run up a balance you can’t afford to repay. But credit cards offer more travel protection than debit cards and are a useful tool – especially if you’re going abroad. 

If you book a trip with a credit card, you may be able to get part of your expenses reimbursed in the event that something goes wrong. However, each card has its own terms and conditions that dictate how much you will receive. Most credit cards don’t cover medical expenses incurred abroad, which is why it’s often best to pair a travel credit card with a travel insurance policy.

Best Travel Cards for Protection

There are dozens of travel credit cards on the market, but they’re not all created equal. Here are our top picks for those who want travel protection: 

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the most popular travel cards. Cardholders receive free trip cancelation/interruption insurance, up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. Chase also provides access to travel and emergency assistance services, which can help if you encounter medical or legal problems during the trip. You may be required to pay for any fees that are incurred.

New cardholders can also earn an 80,000-point bonus when they spend $4,000 in the first three months. There is a $95 annual fee. Cardholders will get a $50 statement credit every year when they spend at least $50 on hotel purchases made through the Ultimate Rewards program. There are no foreign transaction fees. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve includes trip cancelation and interruption coverage, up to $10,000 per person and up to $20,000 per trip. New cardholders can also earn a 50,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

There is a $550 annual fee, but Chase also offers a $300 statement credit if you spend that amount or more on travel-related purchases. There are no foreign transaction fees. 

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Cardholders receive free travel accident insurance when booking a trip with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. The card also comes with a 60,000-point bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. The bonus is worth $600 in travel purchases. 

You’ll also earn five miles for every dollar spent on hotels and rental cars booked directly through Capital One, along with two miles for every dollar spent on all other purchases. 

You can book travel directly through the Capital One Travel portal. The card has a $95 annual fee and there are no foreign transaction fees.

From the Mint team: Mint may be compensated if you click on the links to our issuer partners’ offers that appear in this article, including Chase. Our partners do not endorse, review or approve the content. Any links to Mint Partners were added after the creation of the posting. Mint Partners had no influence on the creation, direction or focus of this article unless otherwise specifically stated.

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Zina Kumok (170 Posts)

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins.

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