Will Discover Card Members Really Miss These Benefits to Be Discontinued?
A n announcement from Discover Bank revealed that several benefits — all related to travel — will be discontinued as of Saturday, August 1, 2015. Those benefits include the following:
- Travel assistance
- Emergency roadside assistance
- Baggage delay insurance
A loss of benefits which were included as part of a loyalty program or a credit card is usually not good news over which one would rejoice; but will Discover Card members really miss these benefits to be discontinued?
I ask that question because Discover Card is one of the credit cards which I have been using for years; and yet not once have I ever used any of the aforementioned benefits.
For what appears to be an impressive list of benefits is little more than simply offering arrangements or assistance in finding resources to help you with problems and issues which you might face while traveling — some of which are items you could probably achieve more quickly on your own than involve Discover — which you will most likely not miss once those benefits are discontinued. Although I do not like seeing a loss of benefits — many of which were once included at no additional charge but do not include the actual cost of what the service entails — I know I will not miss them…
…and also keep in mind that the Discover card is not accepted by many establishments outside of the United States — which could render some of the benefits as useless when they pertain to international travel.
If you have more than one credit card and you believe that there are benefits being discontinued by Discover Card which might have some value to you, you may want to check and see if they are offered as part of the benefits of your other credit cards.
That ends the short version of this article. For the longer version of this article, please continue reading.
Let us look over the benefits in some more detail as outlined in verbatim from the official Internet web site of Discover in gray italic type, along with select terms and conditions — as well as my commentary — in dark red type:
Travel Assistance 24 Hours Per Day, Seven Days Per Week
24/7 Travel Assistance provides you with a wide range of travel assistance benefits while you’re traveling. Just call 1-800-DISCOVER (1-800-347-2683), 24 hours a day, to use any of these emergency services. If you’re calling from outside the U.S., call collect at 1-801-902-3100.
Travel Assistance is not insurance; so you would be responsible for all third-party fees and expenses for services requested — such as professional or medical fees. Certain services may not be available in all areas. While AXA Assistance USA, Incorporated — the insurer and administrator of this “not insurance” — will make every reasonable effort to provide the services, neither AXA Assistance nor Discover Bank or our respective affiliates will be liable if a service is not provided or for any services that are provided by third parties. Emergency cash advances are subject to AXA Assistance and Discover Bank’s discretion.
Lost Baggage Tracking
We’ll help you locate lost luggage by staying in touch with your airline or other carrier, and provide regular status updates about your luggage.
I virtually never check my bags or luggage whenever I travel; so this benefit was completely useless to me.
Emergency Cash Transfer/Cash
We’ll help you find the most easily obtainable funds. We can locate ATMs and financial service institutions, or arrange to have cash wired or delivered while traveling (only available for domestic travel). Emergency cash advances are subject to AXA Assistance and Discover Bank’s discretion.
Perhaps I have been quite fortunate; but I have yet to need this benefit in the years which I have traveled — and since it is only available for domestic travel within the United States, this benefit is completely useless to me, in my opinion.
Passport and Travel Document Replacement
If your passport, identity cards or other papers necessary to return home are lost or stolen, we provide assistance to replace them.
I have provided advice pertaining to ways to protect your travel documents in past articles — such as this article pertaining to how you can reduce your risk of identity thrift and credit card fraud — and the “assistance” which would have been provided by this benefit has never been explained in detail.
Embassy or Consulate Referral
We’ll direct you to the nearest appropriate Consulate or Embassy:
- Before your trip—to obtain a visa for a foreign country
- During your trip—to visit a U.S. Embassy or Consulate
Much of this information is easily available via the Internet — such as from the official Internet web site of the Bureau of Consulate Affairs of the Department of State of the United States, for example. Get the information for each country you plan on visiting before departing on your trip and take it with you.
Flight Rebooking/Ticket Replacement
If your tickets are lost or stolen, or if illness or other emergency requires changing travel arrangements, we provide assistance replacing or rebooking your tickets.
In this age of electronic ticketing, I doubt that a ticket replacement service has the demand today which it once might have had years ago — and I never had a need for it anyway. As for changing travel arrangements, I might have — on rare occasions — been able to benefit from this service in the past; but it was not something I absolutely needed to use.
Get referrals to lawyers or other legal service providers, including name, address, telephone number, office hours, specialty and language resources. Whenever possible, you’ll have a choice of two or more referrals. We follow up with you to ensure service rendered was satisfactory and provide additional referrals if needed.
Referrals to lawyers or other legal service providers? Have you ever needed a legal referral in your travels? Not I.
Valuable Document Delivery Arrangements
If your important documents (passport, driver’s license and credit cards) are lost or stolen while traveling, we’ll coordinate arrangements to recover, replace or forward the documents, and help you file loss reports.
I have never needed this service in my years of travel as I have never lost a valuable document — nor have I ever had one stolen from me — but I could see the potential of this benefit, which I might have with the other credit cards which I use.
Local Police Station Referral
We will provide you with the location and phone number for local authorities and police stations.
Would it not be quicker to just perform this service yourself?
Security and Evacuation Assistance
If your home country determines there is a need for evacuation, we can make arrangements and coordinate your evacuation to your home country or safest nearby country.
Not once have I ever needed to evacuate a country; but there is always a first time — and with my luck, it will occur once this benefit is discontinued.
We can arrange for repatriation on political grounds if you are in a country that needs to be evacuated, based on the decision of the United States government. In hostile or dangerous conditions, we’ll use all resources to maintain contact with you until an evacuation becomes practical or the emergency has ended.
What I wrote for the section titled Security and Evacuation Assistance applies here as well.
If you need medical care while traveling, we’ll refer you to an individual healthcare provider or facility. You’ll be given the provider’s name, address, telephone number, office hours and languages spoken. We also follow up with you to make sure you received satisfactory service and that no further assistance is needed.
Can these medical referrals be trusted?
Dispatch/Consultation of U.S. Doctor or Specialist
When you need medical attention in your hotel or other location while traveling, we can arrange to have a local general practice physician available for consultation. For your convenience, we will make arrangements for general practice physician to consult with you at your hotel or current location while traveling. Although we will make every effort, this service is not available in all states and countries. If a physician cannot be dispatched, we will make other arrangements and options will be offered to you.
Could employees of a hotel property — or people at another location while traveling within the United States — not do the same thing; and more quickly?
Emergency Medical Transportation
In the event of an accident or illness where adequate medical facilities are not locally available, we will arrange for an emergency evacuation to the nearest facility capable of providing necessary treatment. After you receive treatment, a team of physicians can make travel recommendations to get you home safely, with an escort and ground transport if needed.
All this benefit entails is arrangement of emergency medical transportation, for which you are still required to pay. Would it not be faster to simply call 911 instead of Discover?
Medical Case Monitoring
In the event of a medical emergency, we can maintain real-time contact with local medical personnel to monitor your treatment, progress and quality of care, until you are released from treatment or return home. We can also maintain communication with your relatives, employer, personal physician and health insurer.
Emergency Prescription and Eyewear Replacement
Get assistance by locating local resources to replace lost or stolen eyeglasses, contact lenses or medications. If no local resources are available, we’ll arrange shipment of the item or equivalent prescription, subject to local law.
Is it me; or do the headings of each of these benefits initially seem like that the actual prescription and eyewear replacement is included? All this benefit seems to entail is assistance in finding resources and the arrangement of the shipping of the item.
Emergency Medical Payments
If you need to pay for emergency expenses, we will arrange direct payment to designated providers, but we will have no financial responsibility for the advanced funds and shall charge you or obtain payment from your bank, employer, family member or any other reasonable means that may be adequate prior to advancing the funds if necessary.
I will really miss this benefit, which I used so very often.
Translation of the above sentence: not.
Advance of Medical Expenses
You may need to pay up front or provide a guarantee of payment in order to be admitted to some hospitals, clinics, or emergency rooms. In such a case, we’ll arrange for the guarantee you need to receive treatment. In many areas, hospitals will only accept guarantee of expenses from a local company. We will be able to provide assistance in this area with its worldwide network of Operation Centers, correspondents and agents.
I wonder how much the advance payment of emergency medical expenses cost. Remember — it is the arrangement of the guaranteed payment that is the complimentary benefit — not the actual payment itself, which probably carries a hefty interest charge.
If you need dental care while traveling, we can provide the name, address, telephone number, office hours, and language spoken by a provider near you. We’ll follow up with you to ensure the services rendered were satisfactory and that no further assistance is needed.
You are referred to preferred dental providers included in the network database of Discover — similar to such aforementioned referrals as medical, legal and police stations.
Return Travel Arrangements
If after medical evaluation and treatment, we determine that it is medically necessary for you to return to the place of residence, we can arrange for the transportation by which every means medically necessary, or if you need further medical assistance in order to travel home safely and comfortably following discharge from a medical facility, we will assist with their travel arrangements. Return travel arrangement can include the mode of transport, an escort if needed (medical or nonmedical), as well as any necessary ground transport requirements such as wheelchair assistance, ambulances, etc.
I could probably provide superior travel arrangements for myself than can an agent.
Family Liaison and Message Relay
If during a trip you need to urgently communicate with family members, business associates, or friends who live in your country of residence, we act as liaison to send and receive urgent messages.
Unless you or the person you are attempting to contact do not have access to modern technology such as mobile telephones and the Internet, I personally do not see this benefit as useful.
If you or your companion needs to recuperate in a hotel, prior to or following medical treatment, we can help make the necessary arrangements. We can assist with arrangements for you or your companion that needs to convalesce in a hotel prior or following medical treatment.
Many frequent travelers would probably prefer to make their own lodging arrangements — especially when frequent guest loyalty program points and elite level status are involved.
We’ll arrange for a medical or non-medical escort, if through our medical monitoring process it’s recommended that you have one for your return travel home. If through the Medical Monitoring process our team of physicians recommends that an escort, either medical or nonmedical, accompany you for their return travel home, we will arrange for such an escort.
I have never had a need for this benefit — have you? How much does a travel escort cost, anyway?!?
Visitor to Bedside
When you are traveling alone and are hospitalized for more than seven consecutive days and at your request, we can make travel arrangements for a family member, friend or other person you designate to join the at the place of hospitalization.
Again, this is an arrangement; and I am not certain as to how much of the arranging — such as cost and schedule — is within my control should I have decided to use this benefit.
Repatriation of Mortal Remains
We can make all necessary arrangements for the transportation of mortal remains to the location of permanent residence, including obtaining the necessary documentation and authorization for such transportation, as well as preparation or cremation of the remains, and a container appropriate for such transportation.
This is one benefit which I am dying to keep — especially as it is the one time I actually cannot make the arrangements myself. Alas, this benefit will expire before I do. I wonder if I would have been able to use it more than once…?
Before you make travel plans to a foreign country, call to find out about passport or visa requirements. We’ll also provide contact information for the nearest consulates or facilities for obtaining necessary documentation. Prior to departing on a trip to a foreign country, you can call the 24/7 Travel Hotline to inquire about passport or visa requirements to the destination country as well be referred to the nearest consulates or facilities to obtain the necessary documentation.
Again, much of this information is easily available via the Internet — such as from the official Internet web site of the Bureau of Consulate Affairs of the Department of State of the United States, for example. Get the information for each country you plan on visiting before departing on your trip and take it with you.
Travel Medical and Safety Advisories
We can provide information on your destination prior to your trip. Some services include ATM locations, currency exchange rates, weather forecasts, medical and safety security advisories, immunization information and passport visa requirements.
This information is easily accessed from different Internet web sites; and I would bet that i can find all of the above information faster than if I used this benefit.
Online Travel Security Information
We can provide on-line security and other pertinent information regarding travel destinations. Information is made available on our website, or may be linked to the discover.com website. Pertinent and up-to-date security information from the U.S. State Department, as well as advisories on topics such as medical issues and immunization advisories or other notable global events, such as the Olympics, Conferences, etc.
Did I not state this several times in this article? Again, here is the official Internet web site of the Bureau of Consulate Affairs of the Department of State of the United States.
Perhaps I am crazy; but I would actually find it more difficult and inconvenient to have someone else find out this information for me than to do it myself…
Currency Conversion or Purchase
Get up-to-date currency conversion rates and information about nearby locations to exchange currency.
When travelling to a foreign country, you can receive currently conversion rates as well as be referred to locations to exchange currency by calling the 24/7 Travel Hotline.
Nearby locations?!? I can access this information from Internet web sites — such as Oanda, for example — for virtually anywhere in the world.
Weather and/or Ski Reports
Plan your itinerary—before or during your trip—with up-to-date weather details and ski reports.
Translator or Interpreter Assistance
Get emergency interpretation assistance by phone in more than 60 languages, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Emergency Travel Assistance by phones available in more than sixty (60) languages.
There are inexpensive or free software application programs now available for your portable electronic device which can be downloaded and employed within minutes, rendering this benefit obsolete.
Return of Dependent Children
If you’re unable to complete your travel with your children, we’ll arrange to send them home to be with friends, family or someone else you designate. We can also provide an escort for their travel.
In the event that a parent or legal guardian is unable to complete his/her travel with his/her children, we can arrange for the return of all stranded children to their home domicile to be with friends, family or other person(s) designated by the parent(s). If necessary, an escort can be provided to travel with the children.
Again, this benefit — which could be potentially helpful, as it pertains to dependent children — covers arrangements only.
Return of Traveling Companion
Your traveling companions can be returned home with you, should you need to be evacuated for any reason. (To take advantage of this benefit, your companions can return home by the means of transportation initially planned.) In case of your repatriation, the simultaneous repatriation of the other beneficiaries traveling with you to your place of residence will be provided if they cannot return home by the means of transportation initially planned.
Not that it could not happen in the future; but in all of the years which I have traveled extensively, I have not once had a need for this benefit — let alone a traveling companion.
Baggage Delay Insurance
Purchase your ticket in full with your Discover Card and we’ll reimburse you for your eligible travel essentials, up to $500, if your checked baggage is delayed 3 hours or more.
You must purchase the trip with your covered card and/or accumulated points from your covered card for you, your family member, and your traveling companions. Family member(s) do not need to travel with the cardholder to receive coverage. If the trip is not purchased entirely with your covered card, we will only pay for the percentage of the eligible claim based on the percentage of the trip purchased on the covered card.
If redeemable certificates, vouchers, coupons, or discounts awarded from frequent flier programs are used to purchase the trip, any remaining charge for the trip must be purchased entirely with your covered card.
The kind of coverage you receive:
- Reimbursement for the actual cost of replacing, on an emergency basis, any personal articles (e.g., clothing, hygiene and/or grooming products) or business effects (e.g., uniforms or general office supplies) contained in your checked baggage, if the checked baggage is delayed in getting to you at your scheduled destination.
- Coverage begins when the baggage is checked in with the common carrier by you. This includes curbside check-in with facility-designated personnel.
- Coverage ends when you regain possession of your checked baggage from the common carrier. This includes curbside checkout with facility-designated personnel.
- Coverage is secondary to any other applicable insurance or coverage available to you including benefits provided by the common carrier (including, but not limited to, goodwill payments, refunds, credit/vouchers). Coverage is limited to only those amounts not covered by any other insurance or coverage or common carrier benefits (including, but not limited to, goodwill payments, refunds, credit/vouchers).
Coverage is limited to the actual cost, up to $500 per claim, of replacing, on an emergency basis, any personal articles or business effects contained in your checked baggage. There is a maximum of 2 claim(s) per twelve (12) month period.
What is NOT covered:
- Plants, shrubs, animals, consumables, and perishables.
- Art objects, antique items, collectibles of any kind (such as items designed for people to collect or items that over time become collectibles).
- All types of stored data or music (including, but not limited to, computer software, DVDs, video cassettes, CDs, audio cassettes, and film).
- Keys, travelers’ checks, visas, documents of any kind, tickets of any kind (e.g. airlines, sporting events, concerts, or lottery), negotiable instruments, bullion, rare, or precious metals, stamps, and coins, currency or its equivalent.
- Property shipped as freight (including, but not limited, to automobiles and their equipment, motorcycles, gasoline or oils, and electrical free-standing motors.
- Computers, printers, or any computer related equipment.
- Rugs, cameras, radios, CD or DVD player, cellular phones, or household furniture.
- Losses resulting from war or hostilities of any kind (including, but not limited to, invasion, terrorism, rebellion, insurrection, riot, or civil commotion); confiscation, expropriation or detention by any government, public authority, or customs official; illegal activity or acts.
- Losses resulting from contamination by radioactive or hazardous substances, including mold.
- Items specifically identified or described in and/or insured under any other insurance or indemnity policy.
- Indirect or direct damages resulting from a loss.
- Any items not contained in your checked baggage.
What you need to do to file a claim:
- Call TWG Innovative Solutions 1-800-569-6311 to request a claim form. You must report the claim within thirty (30) days of the incident or the claim may not be honored.
- Report the baggage delay to the common carrier within twenty-four (24) hours.
- Submit the following documentation within one hundred and eighty (180) days of the date of incident or the claim may not be honored:
- Completed and signed claim form.
- Receipt showing the purchase of travel tickets.
- Statement showing the purchase of travel tickets.
- Covered card travel point program statement showing the common carrier ticket was paid for with redeemed points, if applicable.
- Copy of the delayed checked baggage report or property irregularity report that was submitted to the common carrier prior to leaving the terminal premises.
- The result of any settlement by the common carrier.
- Receipts for the covered purchases.
- Any other documentation that may be reasonably requested by us or our designated representative to validate a claim.
Benefits are purchased and provided free to you, but non-insurance services may have associated costs, which will be your responsibility (for example, legal referrals are free, but the lawyer’s fee is your responsibility).
Baggage Delay coverage is provided under a Group Policy of insurance issued by Virginia Surety Company, Incorporated.
I never needed this benefit because I rarely ever check luggage — and my belongings are either with me at all times; or placed in a secure location.
In other words: this benefit just is not my bag.
Emergency Roadside Assistance
When you’re on the road, one number is all you need to get 24-hour roadside assistance. Call 1-800-DISCOVER anytime, anywhere. Just pay $69.95 each time you need service.
With this Roadside Dispatch option, Discover Cardmembers have access to emergency road and tow service to assist them during those unexpected encounters on the road.
Detailed Description By calling 1-800-DISCOVER (1-800-347-2683), Discover Cardmembers can access emergency roadside assistance, anywhere in the United States and Canada, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Road America Motor Club will locate the closest service provider from more than 10,000 towing facilities nationwide and dispatch service to the Cardmember’s location.
The benefits of the program include:
- 24-Hour Toll-Free Assistance Number – One convenient toll-free number provides access to all emergency assistance benefits throughout the United States.
- Emergency Towing and Wrecker Service – Towing/wrecker service for transporting disabled motor vehicles to an authorized service/repair facility, an automobile dealer or to the service repair facility specified by the cardmember.
- Emergency Roadside Assistance* – Jump starts/battery boosts, emergency fuel/fluids delivery (cost of fuel/fluids are payable by Cardmember), tire change (if Cardmember’s provided spare is located with the disabled vehicle) to get the Cardmember back on the road.
- Emergency Lockout – 24-hour dispatch service in case keys are accidentally lost or locked inside the car.
The cardmember will pay $69.95, payable in U.S. dollars, per request for service with no additional expense for covered services rendered. Towing assistance will be covered for up to 10 miles from the disablement location for mechanical, collision or tire-related towing episodes. Any additional mileage requested will be at the expense of the Cardmember.
Please Note: For roadside assistance calls cancelled within 15 minutes from the Cardmember’s original request for service, there will be no charge to the Cardmember. There will be a $35.00 fee charged to the Cardmember for any calls cancelled after 15 minutes from the original request and for any instances where the independent service provider arrives to the scene and the Cardmember’s vehicle is no longer at the disablement site. THIS IS NOT A REIMBURSEMENT SERVICE. SERVICES OBTAINED INDEPENDENTLY OF THIS PROGRAM WILL NOT BE COVERED OR REIMBURSED.
Exclusions and LimitationsThe following items are not included as part of the emergency roadside assistance benefit: Cost of parts, replacement keys, fluids, lubricants, or cost of fuel, material, additional labor relating to towing, or the cost of installation of products. Non-emergency mounting or removing of any tires. Tire Repair. Extrication or winching services. Vehicles over 1 ½ tons. Any automobile or other vehicle used in racing or for commercial purposes including but not limited to taxicabs, limousines, and delivery vehicles. Any and all taxes or fines. Damage or disablement due to fire, flood or vandalism. Towing from, service or repair work performed at a service station, garage or repair shop. Service on an automobile or other vehicle that is not in a safe condition to be towed. Non-emergency towing or other non-emergency service. Impound towing or towing by other than an authorized service provider; vehicle storage charges; a second tow for the same disablement. Towing or service on roads not regularly maintained, such as sand beaches, open fields, forests, and areas designated as not passable due to construction, etc. Towing at the direction of a law enforcement officer relating to traffic obstruction, impoundment, abandonment, illegal parking, or other violations of law. Coverage shall not be provided in the event of emergencies resulting from the use of intoxicants or narcotics, or the use of the automobile or other vehicle in the commission of a felony.
Travel assistance underwritten by Virginia Surety Company, Inc.
175 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604
Some benefit. With a cost of $69.95 each time you need service — not including any extra costs and fees; and considering the restrictions and exclusions — you are most likely better off using a travel club such as the American Automobile Association.