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Why every female solo traveler needs a card with travel insurance

Aug. 05, 2021
9 min read
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Editor's Note

This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

Solo travel has a lot of benefits. It's a chance to step outside of your comfort zone, meet new people from around the world and spend time doing some inner reflection. However, solo travel also comes with risk, and in many places, this risk is heightened for female travelers. Accidents, emergencies and unavoidable hiccups in your travel itinerary happen -- and these situations can be even more stressful when you're traveling alone as a woman.

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This is where travel protections and insurance come in. You can buy comprehensive travel insurance plans from a third-party provider, which is a good idea when you're doing anything potentially dangerous like mountain climbing or taking an extended trip. But many credit cards also offer base protections that can be a lifesaver when you're abroad. In my opinion, everyone should have some sort of travel insurance coverage when they are traveling abroad. However, female solo travelers, in particular, should double down to make sure they're protected throughout their trip, no matter what comes up.

In this guide, we'll walk through a few solo travel situations and the type of travel insurance coverage that will be most important to have for your trip.

Related: Is credit card travel insurance sufficient on its own?

When you're traveling somewhere new

The Langkawi Sky Bridge in Malaysia. (Photo by efired/Getty Images)

Coverage needed: Travel assistance hotline

Unfortunately, there are some destinations that are riskier for female solo travelers, whether due to crime rates, local laws or a mix of the two. When you're traveling somewhere you've never been before (especially if your destination is off the beaten path), access to a travel assistance hotline can be invaluable.

This type of benefit has different names across credit cards. Amex has a benefit called Global Assist Hotline, while Chase and Bank of America both call this benefit "travel and emergency assistance."

A travel assistance hotline can help if you lose your passport or luggage, need an emergency legal referral or need to find reputable medical care while abroad. Traveling alone can be stressful, especially when something goes wrong. A travel assistance hotline can help alleviate some of that stress and let you focus more on your trip. But note that you'll be on the hook for any charges that come with the assistance.

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When your flight home is delayed

(Photo by Getty Images)

Coverage needed: Trip delay reimbursement

It's an unfortunate fact of air travel: Planes are often delayed. Sometimes, a delay is just a minor inconvenience. However, if you have a connecting flight with a shorter layover, a delay can be the start of a nightmare. Solo travelers could end up stranded alone at an airport overnight or longer while waiting for the next available flight, which can cost hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses.

In some cases, extra planning can help avoid a missed flight due to a delay. If you know the route you're flying often experiences delays, you can simply make sure you book a flight with a longer layover. But oftentimes, delays are unavoidable and unexpected. Trip delay reimbursement will offset most, if not all, of the reasonable costs associated with a delay that's out of your control.

Chase and Amex both have a number of branded and cobranded cards that offer this protection, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card® from American Express. A few other cards, such as the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, offer the benefit, too.

Related: Best cards that offer trip delay insurance

When you get hospitalized abroad

(Photo by Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/GettyImages)

Coverage needed: Emergency evacuation insurance and/or emergency medical insurance

No one wants to think about the possibility of getting injured or sick while on a trip, but it does happen. You could fall while hiking or skiing, or catch a nasty bout of food poisoning that dehydrates you to the point of needing a trip to the emergency room. And as the pandemic continues to affect destinations both domestic and abroad, the chance of you getting stuck in quarantine while on your trip is a real possibility.

Unfortunately, your standard health insurance most likely won't cover any doctor visits, hospitalizations, medical transportation or medications you need while traveling internationally. Emergency evacuation insurance will cover out-of-pocket expenses if you need a medevac or some other type of transportation to get to needed medical help. Emergency medical insurance will provide coverage for unexpected medical costs such as an ER visit.

Currently, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the only travel card that offers both emergency evacuation insurance and emergency medical and dental insurance coverage, but the Amex Platinum and U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card both offer emergency evacuation insurance.

The information for the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

When your rental car breaks down

(Photo by meowKa/Shutterstock)

Coverage needed: Roadside assistance

Whether you get a flat tire (and don't have the means or ability to replace it) or have an engine issue, it can be nerve-wracking to be stranded on the side of the road by yourself. This is when roadside assistance can be a lifesaver. If you're in an area you're unfamiliar with, calling your card's roadside assistance hotline will be easier than frantically searching for a nearby mechanic or tow truck. Depending on the specific provider and coverage plan, services such as towing, winching, jump-starts, fuel delivery and more could be partially or fully covered. Cards with this benefit include the Chase Sapphire Reserve, United Explorer Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card.

Related: Best credit cards that offer roadside assistance in 2021

Choose a credit card with travel insurance

Comprehensive travel insurance with a third party can add hundreds of dollars to the cost of your trip, depending on your travel plans. However, many premium travel cards come with travel insurance included when you use your card to pay for at least part of your flight. Note that coverage and specific benefits vary between cards.

Related: The best credit cards with travel protections

Card Travel protections
Chase Sapphire ReserveTrip cancellation and interruption insurance, travel and emergency assistance, trip delay reimbursement, primary rental car coverage, lost and delayed baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance, emergency medical evacuation and emergency medical and dental insurance. Terms apply.
Chase Sapphire Preferred CardTrip cancellation and interruption insurance, travel and emergency assistance, trip delay reimbursement, primary rental car coverage, lost and delayed baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance. Terms apply.
Ink Business Preferred Credit CardTrip cancellation and interruption insurance, travel and emergency assistance, trip delay reimbursement, primary rental car coverage, lost and delayed baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance. Terms apply.
United Explorer CardTrip cancellation and interruption insurance, travel and emergency assistance, trip delay reimbursement, primary rental car coverage, lost and delayed baggage, travel accident insurance, roadside assistance. Terms apply.
The Platinum Card from American ExpressGlobal Assist Hotline, baggage insurance plan, secondary car rental coverage. Terms apply.
American Express® Gold Card Global Assist Hotline, baggage insurance plan, secondary car rental coverage. Terms apply.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardTravel assistance, travel accident insurance, secondary rental coverage. Benefits only available to accounts approved for the Visa Signature card. Terms apply.

Right now, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the only credit card that offers emergency medical and dental insurance. However, other premium travel cards from Chase, Capital One and Amex offer a nice set of protections that can help you in most cases. When you're comparing credit cards, take a look at the travel coverage details offered. Additionally, make sure that when you're booking a solo trip, you're using a card that offers the benefits you might need.

Bottom line

Travel insurance is something that every traveler should consider before taking a trip abroad, but there are specific types of coverage that solo travelers should look for when choosing a credit card to pay for their trip. Accidents and illnesses can turn into nightmares filled with arranging emergency transportation and handling nonrefundable ticket costs. With the travel protections offered by premium cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you have peace of mind that you're covered through your travels.

It's also a smart idea to look into more comprehensive coverage offered by a third party, especially if you'll be traveling for an extended period of time. Medical coverage and trip insurance that covers more than just approved emergency expenses could come in handy.

Additional reporting by Stella Shon.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees