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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   2 min read

If you happen to have a Visa or Mastercard, chances are you also have an insurance policy built into your contract. What does it cover exactly? Here is what you need to know to take advantage of it if you find yourself in trouble abroad.

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Lost or Stolen cards

For some it’s their worst nightmare… you discover your card is lost or stolen, maybe even worse: it’s not working. Fortunately for Mastercard holders, there is 24 hour service available 365 days of the year to handle lost or stolen cards, emergency replacement cards (within 48 hours to most of the world), making emergency cash advances and even locating the nearest ATM that accepts Mastercard or Maestro.

For Visa users, it’s also as easy as a toll free number made abroad but you’ll need some information to get through including the bank that issued your card, the 16-digit number on the front (this should be kept separate from your card)and the type of card. You won’t be able to access emergency funds if your card has been lost or stolen but you can expect a replacement card in 8-10 business days. As a safe-guard, purchase Visa traveller’s cheques before your flight.

Accidents and illnesses

Appendicitis, malaria, broken leg… the list of possibilities is endless and a sure-fire way to ruin your holiday. When you’re abroad in a country where you don’t speak the language, a small accident can turn things into a nightmare. If you are a holder of Visa or Mastercard, know that you’re entitled to assistance.

How it works:

Call the toll-free number provided by your bank before your trip (don’t forget this small but very important pre-trip task!). This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are unable to make the call, someone else can do it for you.

A doctor in the UK will discuss with both you and the doctor treating you abroad on the two possible options: repatriation or care. Credit card insurance covers the cost of health expenses up to €11 000 (£9 500) for trips less than 90 days in length.

Avoid incurring healthcare costs before calling the toll-free number.

Other perks

  • If you lose your glasses or contact lenses: Mastercard will make and send you a new pair.
  • If you have committed an unintentional offence: Mastercard gives you the right to a lawyer.
  • If you want to rent a car without a down-payment: simply pay with your Visa card.
  • If you want to book a hotel without making a deposit: both Visa and Mastercard offer this service (check-in any time with Visa).

While Mastercard is more suitable for frequent travellers, cards like Visa “Gold” give you the financial security you need in the most extreme situations.

Have you ever lost or had your credit card stolen?

Img: mueritz, Flickr cc.

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