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Credit card protections and insurance benefits are increasingly popular as consumers look for more ways to save money. Although these perks might not be as well-known as credit card rewards, they can offer serious savings. These perks often apply to either travel or retail purchases you make with your credit card, and the specific benefits can vary by card and over time. Here are the protections and insurance benefits to look for in 2023.
Credit Card Travel Protection Trends in 2023
You typically need to book your trip, lodging or other service with the card that offers these protections to be eligible. Or, use points from the card's rewards program to pay for the trip. When you do, credit cards' travel purchase and insurance benefits may include:
- Trip accident insurance: Offers coverage for when a traveler is killed or seriously injured during a trip. Serious injuries may include loss of speech, sight, hearing or a limb.
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance: May reimburse you if your trip is canceled or cut short due to a covered event, such as covered illnesses or severe weather.
- Trip delay insurance: Can cover expenses, including meals, transportation and lodging, if your planned trip is delayed or canceled.
- Baggage delay insurance: Can reimburse you for necessary purchases, such as clothing and toiletries, while you wait for your bags to arrive.
- Roadside dispatch or assistance: Could either help connect you with nearby roadside help while you're on the road or help cover the cost of certain services.
- Auto rental collision damage waiver: Primary or secondary coverage for when a rental car is damaged or stolen.
"Credit card issuers look at what consumers are spending their money on and try to address those use cases with benefits and other features," says Peter Alter, vice president at CBSI, which provides benefits services to card issuers. "The travel benefits have only grown in their focus."
Travel Insurance Claims Are Up
Trip delay and trip cancellation and interruption insurance benefits may be especially important in 2023. People may have to delay or cancel a trip if they get sick when they're at home or in the midst of a trip. Travel providers and facilities are also still struggling to keep up with demand, and carriers might not be as quick to offer flexible or penalty-free adjustments.
"Disruption of travel is very high, which is making the day-of travel benefits very busy for us," Alter says. "There are lots of customer phone calls and claims."
In 2022, only 77.07% of flights arrived on time, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports. About one in five (20.12%) flights were delayed, and 2.57% were canceled.
Booking your airfare with a card that offers trip cancellation, delay and interruption coverage could help you save a lot of money. But review your card benefit's fine print, as the eligible circumstances and benefit amount can vary.
Issuers Continue to Focus on the Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
Credit cards' auto rental collision damage waiver (CDW) benefit can help cover the cost of repairs or a replacement if a car you rent is damaged or stolen.
Rental car agencies are still feeling the impact of labor and supply chain shortages, which can make replacing and repairing vehicles more expensive. And the agencies might charge you for the time the rental vehicle is unable to be rented out, which could be more expensive if the repairs are taking a long time.
"The financial exposure that a consumer is facing when they're renting a car is very high," Alter says. "The cost to repair or replace a car has also gone up. That's why the CDW has so much awareness."
If your card offers the benefit, you should find out if it offers secondary or primary coverage. With secondary coverage, you have to use your own auto insurance before the card's benefit kicks in. But some of the best travel cards include primary coverage. It gets used first, which can save you from having to make a claim on your insurance that could increase your premiums. (If you don't have auto insurance, a card's secondary coverage will still cover you.)
"Rental agencies have increased the insurance premiums they're charging," Alter says. That means the credit card benefit can offer even more savings than before.
Roadside Assistance Also Becomes More Valuable
Travel insurance and CDW benefit claims have been up for a few years, but as we head into 2023, the roadside assistance benefits are getting new attention.
"People are keeping their personal cars longer and potentially delaying repairs due to availability or cost," Alter says. "Due to that, we're seeing a big jump in our roadside assistance dispatch requests."
Depending on your credit card, the roadside assistance benefit might simply dispatch a service provider to your location for a flat fee. But some cards offer included services, such as coverage for up to $50 per service, that you can use several times a year.
"I think you'll see some issuers in the higher-end space will increase that to $75 or $100 of included service," Alter says. "And you may see some portfolios potentially upgrade their model of dispatch-only to include some level of included service."
Credit Card Purchase Protection Trends in 2023
Most credit cards include zero-liability protection for unauthorized purchases, and many offer additional protections on products and services you pay for with your credit card:
- Return protection: Allows you to return a product and get a refund when the original retailer doesn't accept the return.
- Purchase protection (or purchase security): Get reimbursed for products that are damaged, lost or stolen.
- Extended warranties: Extends the manufacturer's warranty on a product.
- Price protection: Can cover the difference between your purchase price and a lower advertised price after you make a purchase.
- Cellphone protection: Reimburses you if your phone is stolen or damaged.
As helpful as these card benefits can be, however, it's important to remember they all have requirements and limits. For example, return and purchase protections usually only last a few months from the purchase date, and there may be per-claim and annual limits. Or, the extended warranty benefit may only apply to purchases when the original manufacturer's warranty was for one or two years. But many of the benefits, even cellphone protection, are available on cards that don't have an annual fee.
Purchase Protection Benefits Remains a Top Benefit
Credit card purchase protection generally lasts 60 to 120 days from the date of purchase, but the benefit limits can vary considerably.
Alter says that he's seen an increase in claims related to "delivery not completed," which he says may be due to the growth of online shopping and increased frequency of porch piracy. However, the increase in claims doesn't mean the benefit is going to be pulled.
"One of the core tenets of using a credit card is protection around purchases," Alter explains. "Purchase security is so closely aligned with why someone uses a credit card, there [were] a couple of issuers adding it to portfolios [in 2022]."
Extended Warranties Start to Shine
"The extended warranty benefit is also a benefit that's seeing ongoing and new interest," Alter adds. "It appears that consumers are not replacing items as frequently as they have in the past, likely due to supply chain issues and cost concerns."
As a result, people are more likely to have products break while they're still actively in use. And, because buying a replacement might be difficult or expensive, they'll file an extended warranty claim to get it repaired or replaced.
Relatively New Benefits in 2023
Many of the insurance and purchase protections have been around for years, even if they're not always well-known. But there are also some relatively new benefits that cardholders should consider.
In 2022, Alter mentioned the launch of a new coronavirus-specific travel protection benefit. Some trip protection benefits might exclude coronavirus-related incidents. But the COVID-19 protection service could help pay for extra expenses if you get COVID-19 while traveling, such as a daily stipend if you have to quarantine.
He also pointed to rideshare protection as a less-common, but potentially helpful, benefit. The coverage, also called a personal property benefit, may pay to repair or reimburse you if an item you own is lost, damaged or totally destroyed during a trip with a ride-hailing service such as Uber or Lyft. "Perhaps you're getting out of the car and your phone drops and cracks," Alter says. Your credit card could cover the repair if you used it to pay for the trip.
Find Your Next Credit Card
Want to find a great credit card that offers all sorts of benefits? Use Experian CreditMatch™ to compare the cards' fees, features and benefits to see which one might be the best fit. You can also see which credit cards you're matched with based on your credit profile before you apply.