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Best Trip Delay Protection Credit Cards

By: Travis Cormier 

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Hey Travel Junkies,

At 10xTravel, we like to be optimistic–often writing about awesome trips you can take from the miles and points you earn thanks to credit cards. However, travel doesn’t always go as planned. Delays happen and, at one point or another, they happen to all of us.

Thankfully, many credit cards offer trip delay protection.

If you purchase your flight with the right credit card, you can help yourself out of this travel nightmare. You may find yourself eating a nice dinner out and sleeping in a comfortable bed instead of eating chips from the vending machine and sleeping on the airport floor.

Bored in Airport

What is Trip Delay Protection?

Trip delay protection is a perk offered on many credit cards. If you find you get stuck with a severely delayed (or canceled) flight, trip delay protection will reimburse you for reasonable expenses incurred due to the delay.

To qualify, you must have to paid for the ticket-sometimes you only have to pay for part of the ticket-with the card. These do not stack on top of any vouchers offered by airlines, so don’t think you can double up (I know what many of you were thinking!).

 

Credit Cards that Offer Trip Delay Protection

Many credit cards offer trip delay protection. More likely than not you already have a card in your wallet with this benefit and you just don’t know it! Below is a list showing all of the major travel credit cards that offer trip delay insurance, what duration your delay must be to qualify, and how much reimbursement is available to you.

Card Delay Required Benefit Other Info
Citi Prestige 3 hours $500 per ticket
Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard 3 hours $500 per ticket Entire trip must be charged to the card
Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard 3 hours $500 per ticket Entire trip must be charged to the card
Chase Sapphire Reserve 6 hours $500 per ticket
Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card 6 hours $500 per ticket
US Bank Altitude Reserve 6 hours $500 per ticket
Chase Sapphire Preferred 12 hours $500 per ticket
Chase Hyatt Card 12 hours $500 per ticket
Chase Ink Plus Business Card 12 hours $500 per ticket
Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card 12 hours $500 per ticket
Chase United MileagePlus Club Card 12 hours $500 per ticket
Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card 12 hours $500 per ticket
Citi ThankYou Premier Card 12 hours $500 per ticket
Merrill+ Card 12 hours $100 per day, per ticket

More likely than not you have at least one of these fourteen cards! There are some nuances to some of them, though.

The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select and Executive World Elite Credit Cards require you to pay for the trip in full to be eligible for the benefit. That means you cannot pay for the taxes and fees on an award ticket and be covered.

With this many options, you may be wondering which are the best cards. Below we break down some of the cards into more detail so you can decide which one is best for you.

 

Overall Best: Citi Prestige Card

If you’re looking for the best trip delay protection, look no further than the Citi Prestige Card.

For flights delayed at least 3 hours, you and your traveling companions are eligible for up to a $500 reimbursement per person for reasonable expenses incurred by the delay.

To qualify for the trip delay insurance, you must pay a portion of the trip expense with your Citi Prestige Card or with Citi ThankYou Points.

Keep in mind expenses must be reasonable are subject to the bank’s approval.

This is also one of the only cards that extend the benefit to everyone on your trip. Most other cards limit it to just family. So if you frequently travel with friends, the trip delay protection on this card is a must. Just make sure you are on the same reservation otherwise only you will be covered.

 

Runner Up: Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card

Many of you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve in your wallets, so you’ll be glad to know that it has one of the best trip delay protection plans available. Additionally, the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card comes with the same trip delay benefit.

If your travel on a common carrier is delayed more than 6 hours by a covered hazard, or requires an overnight stay, you and your family members on your trip are eligible for up to $500 per ticket.

To be eligible, you need to pay for at least a portion of your trip using your Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.

A covered hazard includes skyjacking or hijacking (yikes!), equipment failure, inclement weather, or labor strikes. Similar to the Citi Prestige, you are eligible for reasonable expenses.

Also you aren’t eligible if the services are provided free of charge.

Unlike the Citi Prestige, these benefits do not extend to friends. The benefits are limited to your family. Additionally, your travel must be roundtrip.

Although the trip delay coverage with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card isn’t quite as good as what you get from the Citi Prestige, it is one of the best available. While 6 hours may seem like a while, delays like this do happen.

 

Best (only) No Annual Fee Trip Delay Protection: Merrill+

The Merrill+ card has been growing in popularity since being released. It makes our list for best trip delay protection cards for one big reason: this card has no annual fee. There aren’t many cards that offer great rewards and travel protections without an annual fee!

Trip delay protection offered by the Merrill+ credit card also works with award programs beyond its own. You can get the benefits even if you pay just the taxes and fees on an award ticket using your Merrill+ card. This means if you booked an AAdvantage award ticket and paid the taxes and fees with your Merrill+ card, you would still get the trip delay protection benefits.

The protections only extend to your immediate family (legal spouse and dependent children), and only covers lodging and meals that aren’t provided by the common carrier.

Because it is a no-annual fee card, the protections aren’t as good as others. You can receive a benefit of $100 per day, per ticket up to 5-days.

 

Honorable Mention: Other Chase Cards

A large variety of other Chase cards offer travel delay protection that is nearly identical to what is offered on the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card with one catch–the delay must be 12 hours or overnight. These cards are:

  • Chase Ink Plus
  • Chase Ink Preferred
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Chase Hyatt Credit Card
  • Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card (personal and business)
  • Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Credit Card (personal and business)

Don’t let this fool you into thinking you’ll have to wait twice as long to get trip delay benefits if you don’t have a Chase Sapphire Reserve.

If your flight is delayed overnight, it could be less than 12 hours and you can still get the $500 reimbursement! If you frequently take late night flights, you may find the protection offered by any of these cards to be more than enough.

 

What You Will Need To File A Claim

You will want to file your claim as soon as possible. Citi allows you 30 days to do so, Bank of America allows 45 days, and Chase allows 60 days. Regardless, get it done right away.

To file the claim, you will need to contact your card issuer to get a claim form. While they do that, gather some things: a copy of your original reservation, your new reservation, itemized receipts of your purchases during the delay, a copy of the credit card statement that proves the purchase was made with the card, and proof that your flight was delayed.

You can request the proof of delay from the airline but, if possible, do it while at the airport. There are fewer opportunities for screws up this way.

 

Bottom Line

You should always pay for part of your flights and travel using a credit card that offers trip delay protection.

While the Citi Prestige takes the crown with the benefit requiring only a 3-hour delay and including friends, other cards are great options too. The Chase Sapphire Reserve starts at 6-hour delay, and many other Chase cards have the benefit with a 12-hour delay.

If you want trip delay benefits from a no-annual fee card, look no further than the Merrill+.

Remember, you are not eligible for reimbursement if you accept hotel and food vouchers from the airline.

Although I certainly hope you never have to use the travel delay protections available from these cards, you’ll be glad to have them if you do.

Safe Travels,

Travis

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