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Credit Card Travel Insurance | The Pitfalls of Relying on It

The Pitfalls of Relying on Credit Card Travel Insurance

Traveling the world as a dedicated travel blogger is a dream come true for many. The thrill of exploring new places, indulging in exotic cuisines, and immersing oneself in diverse cultures is indeed an exhilarating experience. However, the journey can take an unexpected turn, as I discovered during one fateful trip to Portugal. In this article, I’ll share my cautionary tale of why you should think twice about relying solely on credit card travel insurance and why it’s crucial to consider alternative options.

The Hills of Portugal and a Pizza Regret

Picture this: the picturesque hills of Portugal under the warm May sun. I had chosen a budget-friendly hostel and was exploring Lisbon on foot, embracing every opportunity to save money and stay fit. Little did I know that this adventure would soon take a dark turn.

After an amazing meal of pizza and a beer in central Lisbon, I began my journey back to the hostel. The walk with incredibly steep hills was challenging, especially in the super-hot and dry climate, but I pressed on. I had managed to dehydrate myself to a point of no return without even knowing it. As I lay in bed later that night, I was jolted awake by excruciating pain. Something was terribly wrong.

A Medical Emergency Abroad

As the pain intensified, I realized that my flight to Thailand, scheduled for the following day, was out of the question. I was sick, vomiting, and in no condition to travel. To make matters worse, my hostel had no available beds for the next night. I found myself running back and forth to the bathroom, helpless and in agony.

My next move was to book a room at a Marriott where I could rest and recover. But my condition worsened, and I was in dire need of medical attention. It turned out that I had kidney stones, an incredibly painful condition. The doctor administered an IV, and slowly, the pain began to recede. Relief washed over me as I could finally breathe without agony. I left the hospital with prescriptions and a plan for recovery.

With no other choice, I abandoned my flight and headed to the emergency room instead. 

So, if you ever find yourself in need of medical assistance while traveling in Portugal, I can recommend an English-speaking facility called Hospital Da Luz located at Avenida Lusiada, 100, 1500-650 Lisboa.  While about 30 minutes outside of the city, it was worth it to find a place where I could efficiently communicate with the staff. 

The Shocking Reality of Credit Card Travel Insurance

As I started to piece my life back together, I faced another challenge: dealing with the financial aftermath of my medical emergency. I turned to the travel insurance attached to the two credit cards I had used to book my trips and pay my medical bills. However, their response was far from helpful.

Both the American Express Platinum and Citibank cards essentially told me to fend for myself. The reason? Buried deep within their fine print, in section L of part R, on page 52, behind minuscule text and a smudged pencil mark, it stated that I must have booked a round-trip ticket to have my expenses covered—tickets, hotel, baggage fees, or even medical bills. It felt like a cruel joke.

Learn from My Mistake

As a full-time traveler, you might assume that you have all your bases covered. I certainly did until I found myself in this predicament. So, what’s the solution?

Option A: Financial Preparedness

Ensure you have a substantial bank account that can cushion the blow of unexpected expenses during your travels. While this approach provides a safety net, it may not be feasible for everyone, especially those on a tight budget.

Option B: Invest in Separate Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing separate travel insurance from reputable providers. This is especially important if you plan to visit third-world countries or remote areas where medical assistance may be limited. The peace of mind that comes with comprehensive coverage can be invaluable.

One highly recommended option is the travel insurance plan that many seasoned travel bloggers swear by. If you’re unsure whether to invest in travel insurance, remember my story of kidney stones in Portugal, and think twice.

Other Negative Aspects of Credit Card Insurance Opposed to Travel Insurance

Credit card insurance negatives

How limited and lacking you can be compared to comprehensive travel insurance policies. It’s like going on a road trip with a bicycle when you could have had a fully loaded camper van. Let me break it down for you fearless travelers:

Strict Eligibility Criteria: First off, we have these strict eligibility criteria. Hey credit card insurance, do you think you’re some elite club that only admits the crème de la crème of travelers? To qualify for coverage, you might be required to pay for a significant portion of your trip using the credit card offering the insurance. Miss that mark, and your claims might end up in the denial pile faster than you can say, “But I thought I was covered!”

Pre-existing Medical Conditions: And let’s not forget about those pesky pre-existing medical conditions. Credit card insurance has a knack for excluding coverage for anything you might have had going on before you embarked on your journey. But hey, who needs that peace of mind when you can pay extra for coverage or just cross your fingers and hope for the best?

Shorter Coverage Period: It’s like credit card insurance is playing hide-and-seek with your trip duration. If your travels extend beyond their stingy coverage period, say hello to the land of “no insurance protection for you.” Might as well bring an umbrella for those rainstorms of disappointment.

Limited Reimbursement Amounts: Limited reimbursement amounts are also part of the credit card insurance package. So, if you happen to go over the maximum coverage provided, you better have some spare change lying around because you’re going to be on the hook for those extra expenses. It’s like they give you a tiny lifeboat and then say, “Good luck swimming the rest of the way, sucker!”

Lack of Customization: And let’s not forget the lack of customization. Travel insurance policies give you the power to add coverage for high-value items, adventure sports, or even extend your coverage period. But credit card insurance? Nah, they’re too busy sticking to their one-size-fits-all approach. Who needs options when you can just settle for mediocrity, right?

Claim Process Complexity: Credit card insurance claims might as well come with a manual thicker than a Harry Potter book. The burden of proof is higher, the documentation requirements are more stringent, and you’ll have to jump through more hoops than a circus performer just to get your rightful reimbursement. All this, while your craving for adventure and exploration slowly withers away.

Unreliable Coverage for All Travel Scenarios: Credit card insurance seems to have a knack for conveniently overlooking travel advisories, political unrest, or natural disasters. It’s like they expect you to be clairvoyant and predict every hiccup along the way. Meanwhile, comprehensive travel insurance swoops in like a superhero, ready to protect you from the unexpected.

Varied Coverage Among Credit Cards: It’s like a game of Russian roulette, but instead of bullets, you’re dealing with insurance coverage. Each credit card issuer and card type decides how much they want to offer, leaving you to navigate through a maze of uncertainty. Why settle for that level of mystery when you can have the peace of mind of a well-defined and comprehensive travel insurance policy?

The Final Word

Travel credit cards are a valuable tool for jet-setters, but their attached travel insurance isn’t always the safety net it appears to be. It’s essential to read the fine print carefully and even reach out to the insurance provider for clarification. Otherwise, consider securing a separate travel insurance plan to ensure you’re protected from all angles.From there, you’ll be ready to embark on your adventures and Travel Till You Drop, without the nagging worry of unexpected disasters ruining your dream journey.

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Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight.  This is my very first stop when I’m looking for my next trip. It’s a fast, easy-to-use search engine that is perfect for finding an affordable flight, a perfect hotel, and the right rental car for you in locations around the globe.

Book Your Accommodation

If you are looking for a super budget friendly location and are open to a hostel stay, make sure you book your hostel with Hostelworld. It offers the broadest range of quality hostels around the world. 

If you’d prefer a hotel or a guesthouse for stays less than 28 days, drop on over to It’s perfect for providing excellent options, a ton of user reviews, and prices to fit every budget.

For stays over 28 days, AirBnB still remains my #1 choice. User reviews and monthly pricing allow for some incredible deals all around the world.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is but a small up-front investment that you won’t want to leave home without. After just one experience of having to delay or cancel your trip or having your luggage stolen, you’ll wish you would have made that investment.  I’ve hated my life a few times when the moment arose, and I decided to skip out.  Let’s just say, I’ve changed my ways and recommend each of the following companies to protect your ass-ets.

My favorite companies are:         

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About Jill

Hi, Jill Here

Hi! I’m Jill, a Dallas, Texas girl traveling the world. After a career in the Air Force and touring over 50 countries later, my need to explore keeps going! It’s time to rock & roll and find all those places I never knew I was missing.

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I only recommend products I would use myself, and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.