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Planning a local or overseas trip is an enjoyable experience, but there is always one additional cost that can add up: travel insurance. This is where credit cards offering complimentary insurance can come in handy for many Australians. 

Free travel insurance perks are normally available on rewards credit cards and travel credit cards and are not common on low-rate cards.

The amount of insurance offered, as well as the terms and conditions of the insurance, will vary from card to card. Some cards may offer only domestic travel insurance, while premium cards with a higher annual fee may offer both domestic and international. The insurance coverage will also vary depending on the card and the card provider.

Here is everything you need to know about complementary travel insurance.

Why do credit cards offer free travel insurance?

Put simply, Australian credit card providers offer complimentary credit card insurance as a perk on platinum, reward, frequent flyer and travel cards as it encourages spending on these cards.

Many credit card providers require that the expenses of the trip be booked on the credit card to fall under the insurance coverage. Furthermore, for insurance on specific items, card providers often require the items to be bought on the card as well. Depending on your financial situation, this can result in a high outstanding card balance. 

It is important to remember that credit providers often charge fees on overseas credit card use, so the cost of the ‘free’ insurance can really add up. You may also need to spend a certain amount or meet certain criteria for for travel insurance activation. 

The free travel insurance is normally only given for trips under a certain period of time, which means consumers looking to take longer trips need to check the terms and conditions of the coverage before taking advantage of the insurance.

How to qualify for credit card travel insurance

Insurance policies come with conditions and eligibility criteria that the credit card provider and/or insurer will require you to meet to qualify for your travel insurance. 

These conditions may include:

  • Travel spends. You may need to spend a certain amount on prepaid travel costs with your credit card before you leave. This may include plane tickets, accommodation, rental cars etc.
  • Booking through one card. Some policies require you to make all of your travel bookings through the one Visa, Mastercard or American Express (AMEX) credit card to qualify for coverage. If, for example, you booked a train ticket through a friend’s debit card and the train trip was delayed, you may not qualify for compensation for this missed trip from your credit card travel insurance.
  • Pre-existing conditions. Pre-existing medical conditions, such as cardiac issues or pregnancy, may limit or prohibit your coverage.
    Residency. Coverage may only cover you if you’re a permanent resident in Australia or hold a valid Visa.
  • Age limits. The complimentary insurance policy may only cover travellers aged 80 and under 

For a full breakdown of the total coverage a credit card may provide, take time to read the Product Disclosure Statements carefully.

What does free domestic travel insurance cover?

While different credit cards offer different levels of coverage, free domestic travel insurance generally includes:

  • Luggage cover: For loss, theft or damage to personal items
  • Luggage delay: For purchasing essential items if your luggage is delayed or misplaced
  • Cancellation fees: For rearranging or cancelling flights due to injury, accidents, extreme weather, unforeseen circumstances etc.
  • Flight delays: For accommodation expenses if you experience extended flight delays
  • Personal liability: For if you accidentally cause injury or damage to another person or their property
  • Rental vehicle cover: For excess payments on a rental vehicle’s insurance if an accident or theft occurs
  • Additional expenses: For miscellaneous travel and accommodation expenses if you’re no longer able to travel

While free domestic travel insurance is an attractive credit card feature, it often means paying a higher annual fee. What’s more, exclusions often apply to the insurance, so it’s important to always read the terms and conditions and product disclosure statement (PDS) before applying.

What does international travel insurance cover?

As well as what was mentioned above, complimentary overseas travel insurance may also cover:

  • Emergency medical expenses, such as hospital expenses.
  • Cancellation and delays (relating to delayed flights, missed connections etc).
  • Luggage and personal belongings coverage, including loss, theft and damage.
  • Rental car excess costs.
  • Accidental death, disability and/or loss of income.

The level of coverage an insurance provider will offer is based on risk. If you were to engage in potentially dangerous activities, it’s likely that an insurer won’t cover you in the event of an accident. 

For example, if you were to get on a motorbike or moped in Bali, your insurer may not cover medical bills in the event of an accident if you don’t have an international drivers licence or a motorbike licence.

Is credit card travel insurance really free?

While you may not be paying outright for insurance like you may normally, the cost of travel insurance is typically included in the interest rates or fees of the card.

Credit cards with complimentary travel insurance typically fall under the rewards, travel or premium credit card umbrella. These types of credit cards often have moderate to high annual fees, which help to pay for the bonuses and perks that standard credit cards may not offer.

Determining whether or not complimentary travel insurance is worth the cost depends on your own personal and financial needs. You should also keep in mind that travel insurance exclusions and an excess may apply for any claims you attempt to make on your policy.

If you rarely travel, or can no longer travel for whatever reason, paying extra for features you don’t need may be a financial strain. It may be worth considering switching to a standard credit card with low or zero annual fees.

However, if you’re an avid traveller who is always finding themselves forking out hundreds, if not thousands, on travel insurance, or have a big family holiday coming up, these type of credit cards may help keep costs down.


  • Frequent travellers may save on travel insurance
  • Your card policy may cover you for the same price at any age, unlike standalone policies which can charge higher premiums for younger or older travellers
  • You can often get the same benefits as standalone policies, for less
  • It takes the hassle out of comparing travel insurance policies
  • Different card options can give you control over your coverage and how much you spend
  • Many policies also cover your spouse and children when they travel with you
  • A range of destinations may be covered for the same price, unlike some standalone travel policies


  • You’ll typically pay a higher annual fee for the credit card to cover the ‘free’ insurance
  • If you don’t travel frequently, the insurance might not be worth paying the higher card fee
  • A wide range of terms and conditions can mean you’re not covered for certain situations
  • To be eligible for the travel insurance, you often have to activate your policy or use your card in a certain way – so always check your card’s terms and conditions
  • Standalone travel insurance policies can be more extensive (e.g. offering broader insurances up to higher amounts)
  • Certain exclusions and excess payments can still apply, hitting you with unexpected costs
  • Credit card travel insurance policies generally cover trips of a certain length (e.g. up to 31 days or three months)

How to compare credit cards with free travel insurance

As well as looking at the free insurance coverage offered with the credit card, including what is and isn’t covered, plus any terms and conditions, it’s important to consider the credit card’s other features, benefits, fees and charges, including:

  • Interest rates: How much extra you may be charged on purchases
  • Annual fees: What you’ll pay each year for access to your credit card
  • Interest free days: How long you’ll have each billing cycle (often monthly) to clear your credit card debt, before you’ll start being charged interest on your purchases
  • Rewards programs: Will you earn rewards points on your credit card spending to redeem on special discounts, products and services?
  • Other fees and charges: Find out if you’ll need to pay extra for overseas spending, currency conversion, or making cash advances
This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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