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Most of the conversations surrounding frequent flyer programs focus on the best ways to earn and burn points and miles. But racking up rewards is just one part of the award travel hobby.
If you want to maximize the value of your rewards and the credit cards that earn them, you need to learn about other aspects of award travel. Loyalty program rules, stopovers, airline routing rules, discovering the incredible value to be leveraged from credit card benefits, and learning how to use more advanced tools like ITA Matrix and ExpertFlyer all need to be a part of your strategy.
Travel rewards cards provide a host of perks. Everything from concierge services to the extensive insurance benefits and purchase protections, complimentary elite status, and high-value travel credits. Unfortunately, benefits are often buried deep in each card's terms and conditions, written in legalese only a Yale graduate can understand. So many perks remain a mystery to cardholders.
Quick Links to the “Best of” for Each Category
- Auto Rental CDW/LDW Coverage
- Trip Interruption & Trip Cancellation Protection
- Flight Delay Protection
- Air/Travel Incidentals
- Airport Lounge Access
- Purchase & Price Protection
- Extended Warranty Coverage
Guides to Benefits for Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Hidden away in the welcome pack of your credit card is typically a link to a Guide to Benefits. Every credit card provider orders and labels the guides differently, but the guides list benefits associated with each card, a brief description of the perk, specifics of what it covers, and information on how to claim the benefit.
The Guides to Benefits' don't typically cover big-ticket perks such as signup bonuses or lounge access. Instead, they include details of the insurance coverage and purchase protections offered by the card, providing details on trip delay and cancellation coverage, lost luggage insurance, and guarantees on items purchased with the card.
List of Guides to Benefits for Travel Rewards Credit Cards
There can be distinct differences between benefits offered with similar credit cards. Just because two cards are listed as Visa Platinum, Signature, or Infinite products, doesn’t mean they will provide the same benefits or coverage. It’s important to go over the guide to benefits for your specific credit card and check the conditions and coverage of each benefit.
Understanding the Guide to Benefits for your credit card can potentially save you thousands of dollars. The guides detail specifics on how to claim a benefit, what the benefit will cover, in addition to listing exclusions and exceptions, keeping you up to date with the coverage offered with your card.
Have a link to a Guide to Benefits we've missed? Let us know in the comments, and we'll get it added to the list.
The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
Can you find a PDF of the Guide to Benefits for the United Explorer Card Effective 12/1/19?
Shoot! It looks like Chase has pulled all of the links that us (and other blogs) link to.
I find it so odd that with everything being published on the web (including manuals for equipment and all sorts of other things), the banks and credit card companies do not themselves publish the Guides on the web. It’s as if they’re hiding them. You get a physical copy when you sign up, and a physical renewal copy in future years if it’s revised, but you cannot access them online.
Agreed that it’s very customer-unfriendly. I understand that the banks would prefer that these benefits not be used – so it’s cheaper for them to contract out to their benefits administrators. But the guide to benefits should at least be available in soft copy for cardholders.
Fantastic list!! So helpful to have all the info I was looking for in 1 place
Card Benefit Services runs all of these programs. So you will work with one company, and they are difficult to work with. They also send letters stating, “You need to call”. So claims can be time consuming.
The link titled “MileagePlus Explorer (Visa Signature) Guide to Benefits” (United) is to the 03/15/2018 version. That has been superseded by a version “Effective 06/01/18,” which I have on paper. I have been unable to find it online despite much effort. Perhaps you can succeed and update the link? Thanks!
We haven’t been able to find it — been digging all around 🙁
Thanks for letting us know you’ve got a newer version.
I can scan the 01 June 2018 version and send it to you if you want to see it and don’t have other access to it.
Sure, if you can send a link to howie at our domain I’ll take a peek.
the article is about protection benefits, not points per dollar. I was inquiring about protection benefits that the CNB offers compared to all the other cards listed in the article.
Sorry, I thought you were asking about points earning. As for protection benefits, the full details are here: https://www.cnb.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/cards/Crystal-Benefits.pdf.
Yes, there are some places where the CNB Visa card is better (hotel theft protection, identity theft protection) but others such as the Auto CDW/LDW which has country exclusions it isn’t as good. I’d recommend you go through the guide and familiarize yourself with the benefits you have and compare it to the lists we’ve provided.
Do you know off the top of your head whether the City National Bank Crystal Infinite Visa beats any of the cards you have mentioned in any of the categories? I know most don’t have that card so the bloggers don’t talk about it, but I love the card so far.
the CNB Visa Infinite earn 3 Points per $1 spent on gasoline, grocery, airline, hotel, taxi (including Uber and Lyft), limousine, rental car, train, bus, restaurant, fast food, and takeout food dining purchases, and 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
It won’t beat, but it’ll meet many. But each point is worth a penny and no more.
This is a great summary list for NOW. But your will need to redo this again by the end of July and provide new updated links.
By that time a whole list of new changes will have taken effect and will have been published in new benefit guides such as: citi prestige going from 3 hr to 6 hr on bag delay, some chase cards limiting the return protection to 90 days from 120 days, citi rewind being limited in dollar amount, and multiple products limiting car rental maximum coverage amounts and no longer allowing for renal facility loss of use claims if car damaged So, several big changes coming soon.
Oh yeah, we’ve got it queued up already.
Thank you for this list – I’m looking at getting another card and it’ll come in handy. Off the top of your head, are any on this list a no annual fee card?
Yes, several are. I’d suggest identifying your goals and finding a card that lines up with it.
Could you do a guide for Return Protection?
Based on the effusive praise listed here, I fell like I’m missing the main list somehow. Is there a list that shows me which cards have which perks, without going to each cards’ benefits page? Did I miss a link somehow? That would be really useful. 40 links to long lists of technical small print is not useful to me. Sorry if I missed it, but I’d love to see a comprehensive list of the cards that offer each benefit and the “gotchas” for each.
Many are responding to this very positively, and it certainly IS nice to have these LINKS… but am I the only one who was expecting a chart/matrix so each “type” of benefit can be evaluated side-by-side for each card? THAT would be truly helpful. Otherwise, I’m still having to go to each card to create that matrix on my own. That’s more work than I’m willing to do.
If we had a true comparison, THAT would be something amazing. Good project for an intern at AwardWallet, no?
Thanks for doing the list of links… it’s still a good start 🙂
Thank you, this is awesome! I’m always hunting around for these things.
So American Express doesn’t provide this coverage for delays for any card? Am I just missing it?
Correct. If you find one, please let us know.
Thanks for compiling this. Super useful!
This is a handy reference. Especially on the go. Bookmarked.
This is a great one-stop list for credit card benefits. Great reference tool.
I got into an accident with a rental car using Chase Sapphire Reserve – the rental insurance coverage was amazing. They paid the full amt. of damages, and were very easy to work with (I’m sure easier than the rental coverage sold at the counter)
Does it mean you did not have your own auto insurance that would have covered your rental car?
I think credit card usually only supplement coverage of primary auto insurance on rental car and does on replace it.
THe advantage to Chase primary CDW is that you don’t need to file a claim with your own auto insurance provider. In the event you are at fault, that can impact your rates. However, you do want to make sure you have personal liability covered since damage to other vehicles / injuries to others aren’t covered by the CDW.
Fantastic. Congratulations on your work. This list helps a lot to decide for the best card. Thank you.
Great work!! How are awards for SouthWest these days??
Same as they’ve always been? What do you mean?
Great info! It’s stuff I should really look at since I don’t pay much attention to these benefits.
Along with the rest of us! Having everything here is a helpful start to learning.
Handy list once again
great list. looked at my card’s site, found new benefits. thx!
Thank you! I will book mark this page.
Great list! Thanks.
Great list. I have bookmarked this. Thanks!
Sweet, will be sure to reference back to this
Nice — I haven’t seen this information compiled before. Thanks!
Fantastic list… wow, I will have to keep this post to review in greater detail later.
very fascinating reading, and tips!
I will need to rethink the cards I have.
Your forgot an amazing offer from Germany!
10% cashback on all purchases for Media Markt, Saturn, Thailia, Amazon.de, … with the LBB AirBerlin Visa card for Nov 01 – Dec 24
10% is amazingly good!!!
Lucas, while this is certainly a good deal, we’ve never heard of the LBB AirBerlin Visa card. Good luck!
Thank you so much for this. Instantly bookmarked.
thanks for this excellent information
great 1 stop shop for this info – thanks
Great list, had to be a lot of work to pull together.