Friday, January 6, 2023

Best Credit Card for Travel Perks

I'm sure you heard of the December 2022 meltdown of Southwest Airlines that left thousands of travelers (including friends of mine) stranded all over the United States.  You may also have heard about the New Year's Day 2023 power outage at Manila's main international airport that caused delays and cancellations across the Philippines and elsewhere in Asia, Australia, and the Pacific, in some cases for days afterwards.  My own flight from Cebu to Manila in early January was negatively impacted by the latter, when I ended up overpaying for junk food and a beer while sitting next to the only outlet in the overpriced airport bar. Nearby there was a Plaza Premium lounge where I REALLY would have enjoyed access while my flight was delayed for hours.  This was a valuable lesson for me, as I realized the potential value of a membership card that would allow me -- and one or even two travel companions -- access to as many varieties of airport lounge as possible.

So I decided to apply for this credit card. In addition to an unlimited-visits Priority Pass it gives access to Capital One lounges and Plaza Premium airport lounges. It also reimburses up to $300 per year in travel that you book via CapOne's travel portal website, which functions like Expedia or Booking or Agoda.

So using all of that travel credit effectively brings the "real" price down to $95, which is what you pay for the cheapest Priority Pass option I could find, which includes only ten Priority Pass visits per year. Plus you can get up to four additional cards issued on the same account, meaning you and up to four family members and/or colleagues EACH get that lounge access along with two guests each (the aforementioned $95 Priority Pass only includes ten total visits each year, so if you bring someone in with you that's two of ten annual visits used up already).  This means even greater value for couples or families, as only the main cardholder who applies for the account will have to pay the annual fee, which is already lower than cards with similar benefits from AmEx, Chase, Citi, etc.

And don't forget, this card includes the other lounges too, like Plaza Premium (there was no Priority Pass lounge in my terminal in Cebu) and CapOne's own lounges. For me, these benefits alone justify spending $95 (on top of the reimbursed $300).

But then you also get 75,000 miles after you spend $4000 in the first three months, which you can use to book travel on the CapOne portal or transfer to certain travel partners (including many airlines and hotel chains).

Wait, there's more -- you also get additional benefits like trip delay and cancellation insurance, so when a catastrophic airline meltdown or an airport power outage cancels your flight and leaves you stranded overnight, you can book a hotel room with this card and then get reimbursed (if you paid for your flight with this card in the first place -- there are certain conditions that have to be met, so be sure to read the fine print).  I was once stranded overnight by a missed connection in JFK Airport in New York, and felt like Tom Hanks in the movie "Terminal" as I wandered the halls looking for a comfortable chair to sleep in.  Had I had this card then, I would have booked a nearby hotel room with it as soon as I missed the connection and it became clear I was stuck overnight.

In addition, you get up to $100 credit to pay for Global Entry or TSA Precheck once every four years. Another really useful benefit is cell phone protection, with a low $50 deductible. I once drowned a phone during a mishap on a water taxi in Thailand, and was able to make use of this benefit (although that was with a different credit card).

Although you will most appreciate this card's benefits if you're ever stuck in one of the inconvenient situations mentioned above while traveling, you'll also find yourself making an effort to get to the airport early during normal travel times -- and booking travel with less tight connections when taking multiple flights -- just so you can relax and enjoy the trip in an airport lounge.

If you're interested, please use my my link to apply, so I receive referral credit...




And here are some additional details...



75,000

bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

 
 

$300

in statement credits¹ earned annually for bookings through Capital One Travel.

 
 

10,000

mile anniversary bonus each year after you renew your account.

 
 

Start earning unlimited rewards

 

10X

 
 

miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

 

5X

 
 

miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel

 

2X

 
 

miles on all other purchases

Your premium travel benefits

 
 
 

Airport lounges

With Venture X, access Capital One Lounges automatically, and more than 1,200 Priority Pass™ lounges after enrollment (expect an email prompting you to enroll in 1‑2 weeks).²


Capital One Travel

Travel smarter with great features for searching and booking. Plus, if you find a better price, we’ll match it.³


$100 for TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry

We’ll cover your TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry application fee up to $100.⁴


Miles don’t expire and no foreign transaction fees

Your miles won’t expire for the life of your account, and there are no foreign transaction fees.


Redeeming your miles

You can cover travel expenses like flights, hotels and rental cars. You can also transfer your miles to any of our 15+ travel loyalty programs. Plus, there are no blackout dates.


Hertz President’s Circle® Status

Skip the counter and choose from the widest selection of cars. Plus, enjoy guaranteed upgrades.⁵


Additional account features


Add additional cardholders for free—you’ll earn rewards on all their purchases.

 
 

Your Visa Infinite card comes with extended warranty, cell phone and return protection and more.


And here are some other (mostly travel-related) credit cards that I also use, most of which have lower annual fees (or none at all):

United Airlines VISA credit card:

Marriott Hotels VISA credit card:

IHG Hotels Master Card:

Capital One Quicksilver card:


And here's my recommendation for the best value U.S. mobile phone plan for international travelers:

I switched to Tello, which runs on T-Mobile's U.S. network but at a much lower price, in 2021. Tello's low monthly rates include free calling to many countries around the world. If you're based in the USA then you'll definitely want one of the plans that includes data, maybe even the unlimited-everything plan that costs just $29 a month before taxes and fees (and if you're not a heavy data user you can save money with one of the limited data plans). If you're heading abroad for a month or more (as I did) you can switch from whatever Tello plan you already have to a dirt-cheap no-data plan and still hang on to (and use) your US number overseas with wi-fi calling. The base price for unlimited calling and SMS texting without data is $8 before taxes, and after adding state and federal taxes mine costs around $9.50 a month (note that this varies by state). Unfortunately, Tello does not have any options for international roaming but that doesn't concern me as I have used it overseas with a no-data plan in conjunction with wi-fi calling -- to do this, you do need a phone that handles wi-fi calling. When I need to use my U.S. phone number while away from my wi-fi (for example, to get a one-time password or code) I use it with a hotspot from a phone with a local SIM. Keep in mind the bonus feature that Tello includes lots of outgoing international calling destinations for free, so I used it to call not just the USA but also Europe when traveling in Asia (on wi-fi calling). The only thing that doesn't work well with wi-fi calling is when people try to send me graphics via SMS. If you use my referral link below we each get some calling credit...


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Best Credit Card for Travel Perks

I'm sure you heard of the December 2022 meltdown of Southwest Airlines that left thousands of travelers (including friends of mine) stra...