Barclays is changing Travel Plus Pack – does it still make sense for account holders?

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If you have your bank current account with Barclays, you may be interested in taking a look at the Barclays Travel Plus Pack add-on.

In general, buying an ‘add-on’ pack to your current account from your bank is a waste of money.  The services you get will usually not outweigh the cost.

This one, however, is a bit different if you are a regular traveller.

Barclays Travel Plus Pack

Full details of the Travel Plus Pack as it currently stands are here.

In summary, you get:

Worldwide family travel insurance

RAC comprehensive breakdown cover in the UK and Europe

Airport lounge access

I am normally sceptical about ‘free’ travel insurance offers since the cover is often poor and can land you in trouble if you rely on it and have major problems.  Barclays claims that the travel insurance in the Travel Plus Pack has been awarded a 5-star rating by Defaqto, however, so it may well be all you need.  Feedback from readers confirms that the insurance is good and does cover many pre-existing conditions.  This is very rare with ‘free’ policies.

Note that each account holder and their domestic partner must be under 80 years old and the partner must live with the account holder.  All trips must start and end in the UK and last no longer than 31 days.

The airport lounge passes also have value.  You will receive six lounge passes each year which are good for most independent airport lounges.

But Barclays is making changes to Travel Plus Pack ….

From 2nd January 2019, Barclays is increasing the cost of Travel Plus Pack from £15.50 per month to £18.  There is now a minimum six month commitment.

The package is changing too, for the better:

The insurance is improving, with higher limits for most sorts of claim and terrorism / natural disaster cover being added.  The clause excluding any claim relating to mental health issues has also been dropped.

The car breakdown cover will now cover cars of any age (current age limit is 11 years) and the ‘five call-outs per year’ cap will be lifted

The airport lounge benefit will move from 800 lounges to 1,000, due to natural growth in the access offered by its partner DragonPass

Is it still good value?

To get maximum value, it makes sense to just sign up for six months, covering your main annual travel period.  You would be paying £108 (£18 x 6) for six airport lounge passes and comprehensive travel insurance.  You could then cancel and reapply the following year.

As an airport lounge visit can be valued at £15-£20 (you can rarely buy access for less, and £20 is the ‘additional guest fee’ for American Express Platinum and Preferred Rewards Gold card holders), the travel insurance and RAC membership are effectively free.

Or, put another way, if you usually pay £100 for family travel insurance then the airport lounge passes are free.

If you already have a Barclays current account, you should think about whether the Travel Plus Pack would work for you.  Full details are here.

I wouldn’t necessarily want to keep it all year, however.  The annual cost is (£18 x 12) £216.  This compares poorly with an American Express Platinum charge card which has a £450 fee but comes with unlimited airport lounge access for two people, travel insurance, Eurostar lounge access, Hilton / Starwood / Marriott / Radisson / Shangri-La / Melia hotel status and 30,000 Avios or other miles for signing up!  My full review of Amex Platinum is here.

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  1. Shoestring says:

    I think £18 is a pretty good price, given the way prices move on – it’s been £15.50/ month for a couple of years now, £15 for some years before that – lounge passes have been shifting £15 —> £20 so £18 doesn’t seem a rip-off, given the other insurance add-ons.

    Needs a check but there’s one MAJOR advantage not mentioned: all 6 passes always could be used together in the past – which is perfect for families.

    Not as good as the old Barclays Airport Angels lounge passes (6x free if you follow Shoestring lol) or 6x DPs for £15 one-off in the old days (ditto) – but still pretty good.

  2. I’m unconvinced by your assertion that ‘free’ insurance is generally poor. It seems to be notional at best, on what basis can you claim this versus the amex insurance or a standalone policy for example? As you state, reader responses indicate Barclays insurance usually comes good. I have had no problem adding pre-existing condition to Nationwide FlexPlus insurance at no extra cost. The £13 monthly fee of this account is offset by £7 monthly interest for parking £2500 in the account. I do get what you are saying, I once shared the view but now my own notion is that the ‘free’ insurance provided by most major banks are probably all roughly comparable. All, including amex, and Barclays as you point out, have elements of their definitions and t&c that are troubling but that is par for the course. If there is any objective assessment and ranking of travel insurance policies I would be interested in knowing about them.

    • Shoestring says:

      Try finding travel insurance elsewhere if you’re 70-80 YO! Most providers stop at 70 YO or make it very expensive.

      • I’ll worry about that if I get there 🙂

      • Roger1* says:

        Harry, try Nationwide FlexPlus for travel insurance for 70+, no upper age limit AIUI, supplement for 76+.

        For travel insurance if ANY person to be covered is 70 or over, forget AmEx plat. They are stricter on pre-existing conditions and wouldn’t cover us, though Nationwide are happy to do so. AmEx don’t provide cover for over-70s even at additional premium.

        Nationwide has other benefits and costs us a net £6-ish a month by keeping an interest-earning balance of £2,500.

        • A friend of mine fell and broke her hip in South America back in April. Received amazing treatment but Nationwide took so long to settle the hospital bill that the hospital charged her credit card the £10k+ cost. She has had to pay that out of savings to clear the balance and still battling with Nationwide to get reimbursed Also other costs as she had to stay 15 days after the surgery. Also lost the full £5k cost of her trip to the Galápagos Islands – she is not impressed with the Nationwide.

        • The problem is with the insurance providers I think, not Nationwide. UK Insurance IIRC; probably used by many other banks and travel agents too. Personally, I find insurance the least satisfactory aspect of my travels. I don’t trust any of the providers to be honest, I just pick a mainstream player and hope for the best. According to feedback at m*se LV and Direct Travel Insurance are amongst the best but again that just seems to be based on customer feedback which is difficult to ascertain how reliable it is.

        • Yes the problem was with a local agent the insurer used locally. Apparently the local agent had not settled a previous hospital bill so when my friends bill had not been settled by them also they charged the customer direct but Nationwide should be sorting it out for her. She is in her 70s and loves to travel the world. I love reading her travel journals and listening to her stories. The care and treatment were excellent. They flew a nurse out from the UK to travel home with her and take her to her door. Thankfully this has not put her off as she has several more trips booked.

        • Her agreement is with Nationwide so might be worth raising complaint via FOS in an effort to move them. Nationwide likes to play the mutual card but I have become very dissatisfied with them in recent years. Good to know the experience is not holding your friend back.

        • Yes I did advise her to raise a complaint. Also to contact the insurers underwriter to ask about the loss of the cost of the trip as she was only about the 2nd day in to the trip and had not yet travelled to the Galápagos Islands. Nationwide are declining to pay that. Not sure if it is covered or not but told her to ring them for clarity on the policy wording. She has lost all that money on a trip she didn’t do. Such a shame – she was so looking forward to it. Her husband doesn’t like travelling so she travels the world with different friends so not sure she will get the chance to go there again.

      • Amex Business Plat goes to 80.

        • Radiata says:

          Have had similarly vexing experience with the the AMEX Plat travel insurance (via AXA). This after a brief admission to hospital when in South Africa in January.

          As with Liz’s friend, treatment outstanding but insurance follow-up poor.

          Serving as an intermediary between AXA and local hospital and doctor, have been assured bills paid and on the other hand that they have not and that, now, legal proceedings imminent.

          Formal complaint made to AXA in September but still awaiting both resolution of payments as well as a reply to complaint.

        • Shoestring says:

          But health insurance is always potentially going to be a painful process in terms of achieving success: you not paying anything and the insurance co paying up. I bust my arm pretty badly skiing/ snowboarding in Austria, luckily within handy reach of a road so no airlift or rescue apart from ambulance (boy I needed those painkillers, it felt like somebody had sawn my arm off) & got treated first at local hospital then in big Vienna General hospital (new & brilliant!) – surgery to sort out the compound fracture, big knitting titanium needle+++ pin & 3 screws. Must have cost a bomb, not that I ever saw the first bill as I was on a comprehensive company Bupa insurance and apparently everything was covered, including winter sports.

          But it wasn’t 100% covered, never did establish why Bupa refused to pay it all, but Vienna General got my home address and a few months later started chasing me for quite a few £thousands that Bupa sezzed no to. Naturally I just bounced it all back to Bupa, refused to speak to the Vienna hospital except giving them all the Bupa details, basically hid a bit and refused to answer mail/ calls from them (not in Austria by then). Took about 2 years to escape, but just another instance of insurance cos playing hard to get when they can.

  3. I currently have the Barclays Travell Plus pack as an add on to my Premier current account. I looked at whether I would benefit from switching to the Amex Platinum card and using the Amex travel insurance. I decided against this as it appears that a major downside of the Amex Platinum insurance package is that it only covers travel paid on the Amex platinum card. This is fine if you always book UK package style holidays but for many of us, we will book with overseas agents (I have done this recently in Peru and South Africa) or we will book direct with accommodation overseas as I have done recently in both the US and Australia/NZ. If I needed to use a Platinum Amex to do these purchases then FX % fee would have been substantial given the cost of the trips whereas using my Lloyd’s Avios Rewards Amex card was free from FX fees and earned decent Avios as well.

    Maybe I have missed something but this was a major reason why I have not switched and given the Amex Platinum a place in my switching portfolio and will probably stick with circulating my BAPP cards with my wife.

    I final thought on the Amex Platinum insurance angle is that I would assume that you need to keep the same card from when you booked and paid for the trip and when you went on the trip to be fully covered. If you pay one card and then cancel and reapply in your wife’s name then would you be covered for say medical bills whilst away? At least with Barclays there is no requirement t to have paid it from your Barclays account.

    • Key elements such as medical cover are provided regardless of the card you use to pay. Other elements are ok provided you pay with amex, does not need to be platinum.

      • I believe has to be paid on any card ISSUED by Amex, i.e. the Lloyds Amex wouldn’t be eligible?

        Though if you have the Amex Business Platinum you’re covered no matter what card you book with.

  4. The Lloyds equivalent is similarly priced but does not include the lounge access, but does include phone insurance. It also covers up to80 rather than 70. It covers many existing conditions and covered me after a small stroke for £132 for a year when the ‘specialist’ insurers wanted up to £600. They did not even ask where I was going (Boston where treatment would have been very good but expensive),

    • Agree, we have that same account too. But use plat to pay as much as we can uk wise. Abroad use Lloyds avios card. Or curve with mc.

  5. Is it possible to increase the 31 day limit by paying a fee? I can do that with the Nationwide Flex and as we go abroad for 90 days at a time, sometimes longer, I’d need that flexibility?

    • the_real_a says:

      Thats the advantage of AMEX platinum in that it covers upto 90 days trip limit. Although i did not try Nationwide, i was unsuccessful negotiating the same with any of the other card based insurance.

  6. If you’re making more than 5 breakdown call-outs per year, I think that’s a strong indication you need to invest in a new car…

  7. Surely these schemes offering lounge access are only going to increase the pressure and “turn away” rate at places such as No 1 LGW. Happened to us again yesterday, this time at 1230. Of course there is always room in The Clubhouse…
    The Grain Store must be doing very well out of Priority Pass.

    • Shoestring says:

      And all for the sake of your £5 reservation lol

    • 2 more Gatwick South lounges opening soon.

    • Think yourself lucky! There’s no Grainstore or equivalent at MAN T3 when one is inevitably turned away from the Escape Lounge due to pre-booked parties.

    • Michael Jennings says:

      I’ve visited No1 at Gatwick half a dozen times over the last year or so with Lounge Club or Priority Pass and I have never had a problem getting in. It could be that I am just lucky. It’s true that it isn’t the biggest lounge in world.

  8. KBuffett says:

    I’ve had this Barclays Travel Pack for a few years now and they are still only charging me £11.50 a month

    • Shoestring says:

      Yep but that means you’re paying 12 months a year = £23 per lounge pass lol

    • Did you ever work there there? Employees get a 35% discount and they aren’t great at spotting when people leave….

  9. Heinztein says:

    As has been discussed a lot in comments lately, the Priority Passes you get with the Plat don’t guarantee lounge entry and there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to say the lounges are hard to get into. That’s been my experience several times at LGW, GLA, LHR and JFK T8. It really isn’t that great a benefit which is annoying as it’s the main reason I got the Plat. Really wish Amex would get PP to up their game.

    It is good if you routinely use LGW where you are almost guaranteed to be use your PP in the Grain Store to buy food and drink up to £15 per person for you and your guest.

    • Shoestring says:

      Yep but you don’t need to be a skinflint lol. £5 gets you a reserved/ guaranteed lounge entry with No1.

      You might argue that your PP should give you *free* entry. There’s no *should* & *free*? my ass, PP gives you the *possibility* of free entry these days, anybody reading these boards will know this to be true.

      So you have a choice (in many, not all instances) – be happy to pay your £5 reservation fee & know ahead of time that you will enjoy the lounge/ take your chances with unreserved lounge entry/ have a contingency plan eg pint of Guinness in the pub or meal deal @WHS.

      Coming out to our place in the sun last week, I was happy not to reserve No1 T3 as my contingency was Club Aspire, which still doesn’t get booked out too often. Or 2 pints of Guinness in the pub. Got into No1 no probs but 30 mins later I wouldn’t have, judging by the way it filled up.

      But in the summer I had all 3 kiddiwinks with me & it was the start of 6 weeks of summer hols & I made them get up at 5am – so thought we might as well reserve No1, good fun playing on the computers etc.

  10. I cancelled my Travel Plus pack just before the price increase and switched to the Travel pack which is £5 per month cheaper. Reason for switching was that I had been turned away on a number of occasions at both lounges at Edinburgh and the lounge at Newcastle as they were full. Only managed to gain access to a lounge once in a year despite trying to get in on differerent dats and times. None of the lounges allow pre booking with PP or Dragon Pass. Travel pack has exactly the same benefits of insurance and RAC assistance, just drops the lounge passes.

    • Colin JE says:

      You can prebook a place in the No1 at Edinburgh for a fiver (20% off at the moment, making it £4) and give your DP number and it gets you fast track security access (£7 if you pay on the day).

    • I have a Priority Pass. However, I have less than zero interest in visiting any lounge which is likely to be so busy that reservations are deemed necessary. Most of the airports which I use on a regular basis have at least one decent airside bar/restaurant which is rarely, if ever, anywhere near as busy. I would much rather spend my £ there.

      • Shoestring says:

        Isn’t the money point that you *wouldn’t* be spending any £ at all in the PP lounge? Plus all the rest.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        They aren’t actually always full though. They are contracted to keep space free for buiness/status customers for airlines.

        For example qatar uses no1 in bhx and they might have 50 passengers contracted for the 2/3 hours before the flight so with a capacity of 100 passengers they are “full” once they’ve got 50 none qatar customers inside during that period. I’m sure there’s margin for no shows etc

  11. Colin JE says:

    Not sure if it does mean a switch to DragonPass. DP‘s main website says it has 1000 lounges.
    The Barclays insurance is generally good but a few years back it stopped covering business trips and they don’t offer an upgrade, so you’ll need a separate policy.

    • I queried this with Barclays. They are staying with DragonPass but apparently DP was increased lounges you can use since they ladt reviewed the pack.

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