Travel Insurance

Why Your Credit Card’s Free Travel Insurance Is Not Enough

byNoelle Woon
  • Oct 23, 2023
  • 6 mins
travel insurance credit card

These days, going abroad without travel insurance is almost unheard of and many credit cards offer free travel insurance as a perk.

You may think that your credit card’s free travel insurance is enough, but how much coverage does it really offer you? Are you truly protected as you travel? When you’re facing difficult circumstances abroad, the last thing on your mind is to worry if your insurance plan offers sufficient coverage. That’s why it’s always a good idea to invest in buying a travel insurance plan that best suits your needs. 

With credit card travel insurance plans, you’re usually covered for flight related benefits such as loss of baggage. Depending on the plan, some cards also help to cover part of your cost if you happen to face flight delays.

However, when it comes to medical expenses and accidents, flight cancellations and theft, most free travel plans have little to no coverage. Or sometimes, coverage for these are covered, but only for the primary cardholder.

In some cases, the credit card travel insurance isn’t actually free.

Here’s the thing about complimentary travel insurance — sometimes they aren’t actually free. Based on the card’s requirements, you might need to spend a minimum amount on your flight or make other specific purchases before you can enjoy the perks of your “free” coverage.

Differences Travel Insurance Free Travel Insurance From Credit Cards
Cost Needs a one-time payment of the premium Complimentary when you pay for the trip using your card
Accessibility Most insurance providers provide travel insurance Only offered by certain credit cards
Who Does It Cover A travel insurance policyholder can opt for family cover to ensure their entire family has coverage Typically only covers the cardholder and in some cases, the spouse
Type of Coverage Comprehensive plans with the flexibility to add coverage Plans offer limited protection and flexibility to add coverage
Add-ons Comes with optional add-ons to personalise coverage Minimal room for add-ons to address your specific needs


The most prominent distinction between credit card travel insurance and regular travel insurance lies in the price tag. While credit card insurance comes as a complimentary perk, you have to pay for travel insurance.

While the idea of "free" travel insurance might initially appear enticing, it's essential to delve into the details to make an informed choice. When opting for paid travel insurance, you gain the advantage of comprehensive coverage that provides protection in situations where your complimentary credit card travel insurance tends to fall short in coverage, saving you from unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.


The accessibility of travel insurance differs between credit card and paid plans. There are a myriad of choices for paid travel insurance from various insurance providers, both large and small.
Conversely, complimentary travel insurance plans are exclusive to credit cardholders, and not every credit card qualifies.


A significant aspect to consider regarding your free credit card travel insurance is that most of them only cover the principal cardholder and, in certain cases, the spouse. This implies that the travel insurance benefits apply exclusively to you and not to other family members accompanying you on the trip, even if they are immediate family.

For individuals without credit card travel insurance, such as children or elderly family members, a separate travel insurance plan must be purchased.

Furthermore, credit card travel insurance only extends to the portion of the trip charged to your credit card. Consequently, if you paid for your airfare using your credit card but not your accommodation, your claim may only encompass flight-related issues and not hotel-related matters.

Therefore, you are left without an option but to charge all travel expenses to your credit card. As Nora Dunn, a former financial planner notes in her article, "Credit card travel insurance is free with certain credit cards, making it hard to argue the price. However it tends to come with a lot of restrictions and caveats."

However, when you opt for paid travel insurance, like the comprehensive plans offered by Income Insurance, you can enjoy robust coverage that addresses these limitations. Income's Travel Insurance plans allow individuals to opt for family cover1, ensuring that all family members are protected during their travels. Moreover, these plans come with enhanced COVID-19 coverage, providing additional peace of mind when you travel.

Income’s plans also include coverage for adventurous activites2 such as skiing, bungee jumping and skydiving to ensure that you're adequately protected for thrill-seeking pursuits.

You can also choose between annual and single-trip plans for you and your family. This level of flexibility and comprehensive coverage makes paid travel insurance a valuable investment, safeguarding you and your loved ones against unexpected expenses and offering a hassle-free travel experience.


Credit card travel insurance plans are typically offered as they are, with minimal room for customisation or add-ons. This means you can't tailor the plan to your specific needs or request additional features. If crucial benefits are lacking, relying solely on your free credit card travel insurance may not be sufficient.

Conversely, paid travel insurance policies often come with multiple tiers for you to choose from, along with optional add-ons to personalise your coverage. While higher-tier plans with greater coverage will naturally incur higher premiums, the flexibility to add optional benefits to your plan allows you to tailor your insurance to your requirements.

When you’re getting yourself a travel insurance plan, be sure that it covers these areas:

Trip inconveniences

Flight delays, missing bags, and trip cancellations — these are common problems that travellers face. Take care to check your policy’s terms and conditions, as different policies may only cover delays in certain circumstances. For instance, Income’s Travel Insurance covers travel delays that are not caused by you3 including mechanic issues with the plane, something that other insurers may not cover.

For trip inconveniences like these, it’s best to choose the most comprehensive coverage as you never know what could happen on your trip.

Medical expenses and evacuation

As travelling usually involves spending time in aircraft, ships or trains with strangers and eating interesting foods in foreign countries, it’s not uncommon to catch the flu or come down with food poisoning during your travels. While these may not be covered by complimentary travel insurance, regular travel insurance plans should provide coverage for medical expenses incurred when you’re unwell overseas and emergency medical evacuation.

If you have a pre-existing condition, making sure you have comprehensive travel coverage is even more important. Not all travel insurance plans cover pre-existing medical conditions4 and that's a cause for concern, especially if you worry about the possible hefty overseas medical expenses incurred with emergency medical assistance for your condition. Check that your plan includes emergency medical evacuation as well – important if your condition could require advanced medical intervention while overseas. Income’s Enhanced PreX Travel Insurance plans offer this coverage.

luggage on conveyor belt

A good travel insurance plan doesn’t need to set you back by a lot. Most insurers have different tiers of coverage, with corresponding tiering in prices. Regardless of which tier you choose from, you’ll be covered from slight inconveniences to major accidents and even death. The difference between each tier lies in the amount you pay and the amount you can recoup if you are met with any of the above mishaps during your trip.

Income, for instance, offers the choice between Classic, Deluxe and Preferred Travel Insurance plans. You can also choose between buying as an individual or group, or purchasing as a family to enjoy more cost savings. 

If you’re travelling with elderly or companions with pre-existing conditions, it’s also worth considering getting a plan designed for people with pre-existing conditions. These typically cost a little more, but also provide coverage for claims related to conditions they may already have like hypertension, unlike most travel insurance plans.  

With Income’s Travel Insurance plans, you’ll be able to enjoy comprehensive coverage that will give you a peace of mind when you’re travelling. While credit card travel insurances are “free”, they may not give you all the coverage you need whilst enjoying yourself overseas. It’s always wiser to pay a small sum to be covered rather than to rely on a free perk which might not meet your needs at all.

Looking for affordable and reliable travel insurance? Buy your Travel Insurance from Income today.


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