Your credit card may offer free in-flight Wi-Fi

More cards offering Wi-Fi perks on airlines and on the ground

Damon Brown
Business Travel Writer
Business consultant, frequent flyer aficionado

Your card may offer free Wi-Fi

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Highlights:

  • Some cards offer 10-12 free Gogo vouchers annually for in-flight Wi-Fi.
  • Your card may qualify you for free Boingo membership, with 1 million hot spots worldwide.
  • Many hotels offer complimentary Wi-Fi to cardholders, loyalty members.

If you spend any time working on the road, then counting on cellphone reception is risky at best. A bad connection can make your work day null and void, and even a portable hot spot won't help you get your phone or laptop online.

The online picture is much rosier than even just a decade ago, especially as credit cards are bundling free, accessible Wi-Fi into their benefits. Here's how you can take advantage.

Logging on while in the air

In-flight Wi-Fi has become much more commonplace with Gogo currently dominating the space. It charges $50 a month for unlimited access on pariticipating domestic flights and $70 a month for international access on Delta flights. For global access on any participating airline, the rate is $599 annually. You can also purchase an hour or day pass.

If those prices seem steep, you'll be happy to know some credit cards are now throwing in-flight Wi-Fi into their perks package. The U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature card gives 12 annual in-flight Wi-Fi passes for Gogo ($49 annual fee, waived first year). The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offers 10 free Gogo passes a year ($450 annual fee).

If you are only interested in the free Wi-Fi, clearly U.S. Bank is the better option, but if you're interested in a bunch of other freebies and perks, American Express Platinum has got you covered, with an annual $200 airline credit, airport lounge access, free Global Entry pass and if you're patient, the card sometimes comes with a 75,000 or 100,000 point sign-up bonus.

See Related:Premium card perk: Access to airport lounges

Other cards, like the Expedia + Voyager Card from Citi, may not offer free passes for a specific Wi-Fi service, but they allow you to apply your annual travel credit to in-flight Wi-Fi.

And, if you have T-Mobile, you're in luck when it comes to communicating while up in the air. Customers get free texting through sites such as WhatsApp and one free hour of Wi-Fi service on every flight through Gogo.

Internet access while on the road

For Wi-Fi on the ground, Boingo is one of the big players. It has Wi-Fi zones at airports and general public areas around the world, with more than a million international hot spots. For domestic plans, it will cost you about $10 a month for unlimited access and $40 a month for global, unlimited access.

 

Before you register for one of their plans, however, look in your wallet as you may have a card that already gives you free access.

The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with unlimited Boingo access on up to four devices, as does the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express. It's not automatic, though, so you'll want to register through your card's online portal and the Boingo website before traveling, so you have it ready to go when you need it.

Hotels are also giving free or faster Wi-Fi to customers who carry co-branded cards or belong to their loyalty clubs. The Hilton Honors Card® from American Express includes free Wi-Fi at all its properties (all Hilton Honors members get complimentary Wi-Fi on properties), as does the Hyatt Credit Card from Chase.

The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Card comes with immediate silver status for cardholders, which includes free Wi-Fi (and free premium Wi-Fi starting in August) for both Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest properties. Starwood also has free Wi-Fi for SPG Gold members, which is complimentary through the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express.

Additionally, you can become an SPG Gold member through the Platinum Card by American Express.

See Related: 3ways to get in-flight Wi-Fi for free

Even if you don't use a co-branded hotel card, some chains will give you free Wi-Fi just for becoming a member of their hotel loyalty program and booking your room through their site instead of a third-party site.

When traveling for business, it's worth knowing which card will make it a little easier to get your work done without having to shell out a lot of money to stay connected.

See Related: How to earn more points booking business travel, Compare business credit cards


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Updated: 10-18-2018