It seems like every company, software maker, and smartphone app is vying for your subscription dollars these days. Few are worth the added monthly expense, in our opinion. There are a few, however, that make legitimate sense — and cents — for travelers. Here are five of the best travel memberships and subscription services that are worth the money in 2020.
Let’s start with the most obvious one: TSA PreCheck. Even for U.S.-based travelers who only fly a handful of times per year, the recurring cost is worth the time and money. A five-year term is just $85. That’s $17 annually, and it’s all but guaranteed to save you hours at the airport. PreCheck passengers needn’t remove their shoes, belts, or light jackets, and they can leave their laptops and liquids in their carry-on. Add to that convenience the privilege of passing through a separate — and often much shorter — security line and the cost is practically worth it on your very first trip. New applicants can start the process online and some credit cards and loyalty programs even include the fee as a perk for their cardholders.
Digital boarding passes, itineraries, and hotel reservations have mostly made travel much easier (not to mention better for the environment). However, trying to keep all those emails, confirmation numbers, and departure times straight while en route somewhere can be a hassle. TripIt streamlines everything about travel. Subscribers simply provide TripIt with their email account information. Afterward, the app automatically scans your inbox for travel-related emails. It organizes and files them all in a single, easy-to-read, mobile itinerary within the TripIt app. It might sound like a lofty promise, but the app delivers. It also tracks important updates to your upcoming flights and is often better and faster at alerting you to changes than the official airline apps. There’s a free option, but the features are limited, which is why we recommend spending the extra $49 for the TripIt Pro version.
Priority Pass Select
Most air travelers who only fly a handful of times each year don’t bother with airline lounges. Unless you’re staring down an eight-hour layover, dropping $50 for a day pass to score cold finger foods and “free” domestic beer, it hardly seems worth it. Priority Pass is an annual membership program that makes the cost of lounge admission a little more palatable. For $249, the upgraded Priority Pass Select membership provides 10 lounge visits in a calendar year. Depending on the airline, that’s roughly 50% off the fees you’d expect to pay to check in to most lounges. It’s valid at more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world. Again, some of the best travel credit cards and loyalty programs provide free Priority Pass membership as a perk.
Scott’s Cheap Flights
Countless newsletters and subscription services promise to help travelers save big on their next or vacation. In our experience, none deliver like Scott’s Cheap Flights. Simply sign up, pick your preferred departure airport, and wait for the best flight deals to roll in. In some cases, we’ve seen mistake fares and rare deals of up to 90% off — legitimately. The basic membership is free, but we recommend splurging for the $49-per-year Premium subscription for earlier access to the best deals. It’ll more than pay for itself on your first trip.
GEOS Travel Safety Insurance
Travel safety and insurance are hardly sexy topics, compared to breezing through airport security and free booze at your next layover. Still, for adventurous travelers, it’s essential. In many countries, anyone needing search and rescue is required to pay for the service themselves. Depending on the location, these services could be in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. GEOS Travel Safety’s SAR (Search and Rescue) Membership plans reimburse travelers in the event of a life-threatening rescue scenario. The company’s entry-level membership is just $24.95 annually, which covers expenses of up to $100,000 per year. Hardcore travelers might want to consider add-ons like medical evacuation insurance, all of which are incredibly affordable, especially compared to the alternative.
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