In a very timely article, given the number of Americans who plan to travel this holiday season, Allie Johnson with recently wrote a comprehensive article highlighting a very popular benefit that many credit card companies offer to travelers:  Credit card emergency travel assistance.

While not known to many consumers, travel assistance service can be a lifesaver.  But how do you know whether you have a superior (or sub-par) travel assistance benefit?  There are two criteria to keep in mind when reviewing your travel assistance benefits:

  • Scope of Services: Read the fine print. Is everything included in your benefits that should be?
  • Provider Quality: Is the provider of these services really qualified to be your “guardian angel” should you require their assistance?

As you review your benefit documents, you will likely find a myriad of services bundled under the umbrella of “Travel Assistance”.  I like to break these down into five key components:

  1. Travel related assistance. Before, during or after the trip, you can receive help with anything travel related from qualified experts either via phone, online or through a mobile app. This includes assistance with simple pre-trip information such as help selecting the right itinerary, booking your hotels, flights and other transportation, and making dinner and entertainment reservations.
  2. Travel emergency related assistance. During travel anything can happen: lost luggage, stolen wallet, need a taxi or help with lost passport or ticket. In places where you don’t know local customs or language having help via phone or locally can prove invaluable.
  3. Travel medical emergency related assistance. Accidents do happen, so make sure to have the contact information you need at the ready should you need to locate nearest medical practitioner, have someone monitor your medical case and bring you or your loved ones home safely.
  4. Travel legal emergency related assistance. Not knowing local customs can lead to some unusual and sometimes (in hindsight) funny episodes. But when you’re in a middle of it, you need a local legal referral, translation help and bail assistance.
  5. Travel security emergency related assistance. Your vacation destination can quickly turn into a rioting protest zone or a natural disaster area. Having a security expert advise you and help you get home or to a secure location if necessary can be a lifesaver.

To successfully deliver all of those services and provide global access to travel, medical and security experts is a daunting task that very few companies can truly achieve.  In order to ensure that you are covered when and if the time comes, don’t hesitate to ask if your travel assistance provider has:

  • Global presence with capabilities to deliver services locally
  • Full range of experts on staff to offer you advice: doctors, nurses, security experts, travel agents and concierges
  • Multiple access channels: toll-free telephone access (and accepts collect calls if necessary), a comprehensive website, and a mobile app for easy info and referral access
  • Extensive, high-quality worldwide provider networks: No matter where you are, whether you need a limo to pick you up at the airport or a medical facility where you can undergo surgery

Safe travels!  I hope that these tips were helpful: let me know by posting a comment if you thought of others I didn’t include.

By Vladimir Poletaev

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