Credit cards are offering increasingly enticing benefits for frequent travelers, from lounge access to reimbursement for incidental fees. But there’s one travel-related expense that often falls through the cracks: Wi-Fi.
Because public and in-flight Wi-Fi is generally provided by third parties unaffiliated with issuers and the airlines, free Wi-Fi is a rare credit card benefit. Yet several cards offer it. Read on for details.
Platinum Card from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner): Unlimited Boingo access
Boingo provides Wi-Fi access at many airports and public hotspots worldwide. With this card, you can get complimentary, unlimited access on up to four devices. If you were to buy this service directly from Boingo, it would cost $39 per month (as of June 2015). You will need to enroll in the Boingo American Express Preferred plan to receive this benefit. Check your card’s terms for instructions.
American Express Business Platinum: Unlimited Boingo access and 10 Gogo passes per year
There are two parts to this card’s Wi-Fi benefits, making it a good fit for business travelers who practically live in airports and on planes and need to stay connected:
- Boingo: As with the regular American Express Platinum, you get unlimited Boingo access (see the details above.
- Gogo: To get this benefit, enroll your card in the Gogo Preferred program. Each basic and additional cardholder will get 10 complimentary Gogo inflight Internet passes per calendar year. Each pass is good for one flight segment. Passes must be activated online – read your card’s benefit description to find out how.
Expedia+ Voyager: $100 annual statement credit that can be used toward Wi-Fi carriers
Both Boingo and Gogo are covered under this benefit. If you use either of these providers, you’ll be reimbursed for the cost (up to $100 per calendar year). You can also use this credit toward other airline incidental fees on qualifying airlines.
Starwood Preferred Guest Card: Complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi.
The SPG card started offering this benefit in August, 2015. Its Boingo benefits are identical to the Platinum’s, but this card’s fee is just $95. It also boasts more than 30 airline transfer partners, making it a good all-around travel rewards card.
Note: Plenty of cards give you statement credits against “incidental travel fees.” However, this benefit may not work for Wi-Fi providers, even if you purchase access on a plane or in an airport. Why? For some cards, only purchases made directly with the airline are eligible – and Wi-Fi access is purchased from a third-party provider, not the airline. Read your card’s terms carefully.
The cards above explicitly list free Wi-Fi in their benefits. Yet other cards can get you free Wi-Fi in more round-about ways.
Hotel cards that give you elite status: Some hotel cards give you elite status, guaranteeing you in-room Wi-Fi. However, hotels are increasingly moving toward the free-Wi-Fi-for-all model, so elite status is becoming less necessary for complimentary Internet. In some cases, though, upper-tier elite status can get you a faster connection. Marriott, for example, gives Gold and Platinum Elite members higher-speed “premium” Internet. And its co-branded card gives you 15 elite credits each year, putting you that much closer to this perk.
Cards that get you lounge access: Complimentary Wi-Fi is often a fixture at airport lounges. And there are plenty of cards that will get you into these lounges for free or at a discounted rate. Explore your options by viewing our chart here.