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Chances are if you’re a savvy points-collecting traveler, you have at least one Visa Signature credit card in your wallet. Some of the most popular cards on the market are part of this family of premium cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire, British Airways Visa, the Hyatt card, the Marriott Rewards Premier and Marriott Rewards cards, the Southwest Plus card, Bank of America’s Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines cards, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Citi Hilton HHonors and Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve, US Bank FlexPerks, Citi AAdvantage Visa Signature, and many more.
Apart from the miles and points many of these cards earn, they come with a raft of other benefits that can add tremendous and peace of mind to your travel plans.
1. Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Many credit cards come with supplemental car rental insurance in one form or another. When you pay for a car rental with your Visa Signature, Visa provides secondary insurance, meaning they’ll only reimburse you for damages not payable by any other party (like the car rental company or your regular auto insurance company). So this isn’t primary insurance (which many World Mastercard products offer), but it’s nice to know that you have a policy in place to cover any gaps in your insurance. Visa’s policy will cover eligible collisions and vehicle theft, for instance, if you rent a car in your home country and it gets stolen, or you get in an accident, Visa will reimburse you for the damages up to the actual cash value of most vehicles. An important side note: if you’re renting an “expensive or exotic automobile” (like a Porsche or Aston Martin), an automobile that’s 20+ years old, or a van that transports more than 8 people, the waiver benefit doesn’t apply. You can find further details at Visa Signature’s comparison of credit card rental car coverage.
2. Travel and Emergency Assistance: This benefit is basically a dedicated department travelers can call when things go wrong on the road. Among the tasks it can handle are: sending emergency messages to immediate family members or business associates; providing medical referral assistance to English-speaking doctors, dentists and hospitals or to assign a doctor to consult by phone with local medical personnel; legal referral assistance can arrange contact with English-speaking attorneys and US Embassies or consulates; helping make arrangements for emergency transportation home or to the nearest medical facility, emergency ticket replacement, lost luggage locator service, emergency translation service, prescription assistance to help get your prescriptions filled or replaced, and even pre-trip assistance for information on your destination such as ATM locations weather reports, health precautions and visa requirements. These services are provided to the cardholder, their spouse and children (dependents under 22) and can be accessed by calling the Benefit Administrator at 1-800-397-9010 or if outside the US call 410-902-8012. Just note: Visa Signature Travel and Emergency Assistance Services provide assistance and referral only. You are responsible for the cost of any actual medical, legal, transportation, cash advance, or other services or goods provided.
3. Visa Signature Hotels: When cardholders use a Visa Signature credit card to book a room through the Visa Signature Hotels program, they are eligible to receive extra perks such as discounted room rates, room upgrades, free breakfast, early check-in and late check-out, dining and spa credits and more – and all these perks add up. That room upgrade can easily be worth hundreds of dollars alone, while free breakfast can be worth around $25-50. I usually choose the free WiFi as my perk, but if it came down to free valet or free WiFi, I’d choose the valet because hotels in big cities like San Francisco and Chicago can easily charge $30-50 per night just to park your car while WiFi is usually under $20. Throw in some food or spa certificates, and even if you’re paying above the most reduced, non-refundable rate you can find, you’re still coming out way ahead in terms of value.
4. Travel Accident Insurance: Visa Signature cardmembers will receive a minimum of $250,000 in the event of accidental death or dismemberment when a qualifying fare such as airline, train or bus tickets, is charged to their Visa Signature card. This insurance covers not only the primary cardholder, but also their eligible dependents when the entire cost of the “common carrier” fare is made prior to departure for the airport, terminal or station. Coverage begins and ends at the places designated on the ticket purchased for the trip.
5. Lost, stolen and damaged card protection: If your credit card gets lost, stolen or damaged, Visa can do several things at once. They can send you an emergency cash advance within one business day and arrange a place for you to pick it up, or they can get you a new card within the same amount of time and arrange for its delivery. Visa Signature has a “zero liability” program so cardholders aren’t required to pay for any fraudulent charges. Beware, cash advances can incur large fees, so if you can hold out and just get a new card, that’s probably your better option.
6. Lost Luggage Reimbursement: With more fees and better tracking technology (and less people checking bags), it mystifies me that airlines still manage to lose suitcases- which happened to me just this summer when flying from Miami to Madrid via London in business class on British Airways!. Still, from time to time, you can’t avoid it. The good news is, when you pay for the entire cost of your tickets with a Visa Signature card, you will be eligible to receive reimbursement for your checked luggage, carry-on luggage, and their contents for the difference between the value of the amount claimed (by you) and the common carrier’s payment, up to $3,000 per trip (in New York, coverage is limited to $2,000 per bag for New York residents), provided the luggage was lost due to theft or misdirection by the carrier. That means that no matter what the airline settles on sending you, you should be able to recoup the difference between that payment and what your belongings are actually worth (up to $3,000) thanks to this benefit. Again, this is supplemental insurance and is in excess of any other collectible insurance or reimbursement from any other sources you may be eligible for.
7. Roadside Dispatch: Not everyone has AAA, and things can and do go wrong on the road all the time. If you have a problem like a flat tire or a dead battery, or even if you just locked yourself out of your car, Visa Signature has a dedicated customer service line (1-800-VISA-TOW) that can arrange for a service call. The fee is usually around $59.95 and includes towing up to 5 miles, tire changing (with your own spare in good condition), jump starting the battery, lockout service, fuel delivery (up to 5 gallons, not including cost of fuel) and winching (within 100 feet of paved our county-maintained road). Any type of motor vehicle with wheels is included.
8. Purchase Security and Warranty Protection: Many Visa Signature card purchases are protected against theft or damage for the first 90 days from the date of purchase. Cardholder can even file their claims online. This purchase security will replace, repair, or reimburse the cardholder for eligible items of personal property purchased entirely with their eligible Visa Signature card up to a maximum of $500 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder in the event of theft, damage due to fire, vandalism, accidentally discharged water, or certain weather conditions. All resolutions are at the discretion of a Benefit Administrator. Visa Signature’s warranty protection helps customers sort through the terms of their purchases’ warranties, but will also keep all your warranties on file if you send them your sales receipts and warranty information. This service also offers extended warranty protection that doubles the time period of the original manufacturer’s written U.S. repair warranty up to 1 additional year on eligible warranties of 3 years or less when an item is purchased entirely with your eligible Visa Signature card. Just beware, there are plenty of items not covered including motorized vehicles, items for professional or commercial use, real estate and parts of real estate (like plumbing or garage doors), rented or leased items, used or pre-owned items, computer software and medical equipment, among others.
9. Sonoma Wineries: Dozens of Sonoma County Vintners Association wineries have partnered with Visa Signature to offer cardholders a bunch of great perks to enhance the visiting and tasting experience up in California wine country including complimentary wine-tastings (usually two per cardholder), special reserve tastings and food pairings, and discounts on same-day wine and merchandise purchases. When you take a full day of tastings and purchases into account, you could really be saving some money here. Here is the full list of participating wineries.
10. Concierge Service: Visa Signature cardholders have access 24 hours a day to complimentary concierge services that can handle anything from restaurant recommendations and reservations to travel arrangements, tickets to entertainment events and business services. Cardholders must cover the costs themselves, but it’s basically like having your own personal travel assistant. The Concierge Service can be reached at (800) 953-7392 or (630) 350-4551 collect outside the US.