Nothing is more frustrating than getting everything (and everyone) packed, getting to the airport, then checking in just to find out your flight has been delayed. It gets even worse when you know you have a tight connection or when you start to realize there’s serious problems and the flight is delayed multiple hours.

Flying from a smaller airport with few direct routes on any of the major airlines I’ve experienced this quite a few times and the good news is we’re here to help.

Cards with Airline Delay Benefits

I realize I said we’re here to help, but believe it or not your best friend when facing a long delay is likely in your wallet. Numerous credit cards offer trip delay reimbursement benefits, in fact three of the top five ranked cards on both our “Best Cards Under 5/24” and “Best Cards Above 5/24” lists offer some sort of trip delay insurance.

Instead of waiting in the line that is likely 50 passengers long all having the same issue as you to try to get a meal voucher or hotel for the night, you are likely better off finding your own hotel and meals and just saving your receipts.

trip delay insurance benefits

Chase Cards with Trip Delay Insurance

The following is a list of the Chase cards with trip delay insurance and some key factors that influence which card you may want to utilize:

Chase Credit CardDelay Required for Benefit to Kick In
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card12 hours or a delay that requires an overnight stay
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card12 hours or a delay that requires an overnight stay
Chase Sapphire Reserve6 hours or a delay that requires an overnight stay
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
12 hours or a delay that requires an overnight stay

United Business Card
United Explorer Business Card
United Club Business Card*
12 hours or a delay that requires an overnight stay

United Club Visa Infinite Card
United Explorer Card*
12 hours or a delay that requires an overnight stay
World of Hyatt Credit Card12 hours or a delay that requires an overnight stay
Ritz-Carlton Credit Cardᵀ6 hours or a delay that requires an overnight stay

* Existing United personal and business cards include trip delay benefits but are no longer available to new cardmembers.

Note the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card is not open to new applicants; however, after one year of card ownership, an existing Marriott Card can be product changed to a Ritz-Carlton Credit Card.

airline delay insurance

Clearly, there is one Chase card that stands head and shoulders above the rest and that’s the Chase Sapphire Reserve. A delay of just 6 hours will kick in your trip delay benefits.  For many people, it’s the go-to card for booking trips, but luckily all Chase cards with trip delay insurance kick in for an overnight stay which is where the expenses can start to stack up.

hotel to stay during trip delay

Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card which not only gives you trip delay insurance but also provides 15 Elite Night Credits annually.

Another interesting card to note is the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card which not only gives you trip delay insurance but also provides 15 Elite Night Credits annually, purchase protection, and a few other travel protections with no annual fee.

Now there are a few important things to keep in mind with Chase travel delay insurance.

Chase trip delay covers the cardholder, cardholder’s spouse or domestic partner, dependent children under age 26, and person(s) employed by the company for which the Chase business credit card account is issued (for business cards). The reimbursement covers expenses such as meals and lodging and only covers expenses not otherwise covered by insurance, the common carrier, or another party. On top of all of these fine print items, the delay must happen away from the cardholder’s city of residence.

Chase must be notified within 60 days following the date of the delay. A Claim form will be sent after the notification and then the claim form and supporting documentation must be submitted within 100 days of the date of the delay. Claims can be filed online at https://www.eclaimsline.com.

Supporting documentation you need can include information like:

  • Original and updated travel itinerary and/or the common carrier ticket
  • Card statement showing the charge for the ticket
  • Statement from the common carrier explaining the reason for the delay
  • Copies of itemized receipts for your claimed expenses

Finally, it’s important to note for all chase cards the maximum amount they will cover is $500 for each purchased ticket (one covered hazard per trip). That said only a portion of your flight needs to be charged to your card to be covered.

American Express Cards with Trip Delay Insurance

The following is a list of the American Express cards with trip delay insurance and some key factors that influence which card you may want to utilize:

American Express Card¹Delay Required for Benefit to Kick In
The Platinum Card® from American Express (rates & fees)6 hours
American Express® Gold Card (rates & fees12 hours
American Express® Green Card12 hours
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (rates & fees6 hours
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (rates & fees12 hours
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (rates & fees)6 hours
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire® Card6 hours

¹ These benefits only apply to US-issued American Express Cards
² The business and corporate versions of these cards also extend the same trip delay insurance benefits as the personal versions

On the surface, American Express seems to have more cards with coverage that kicks in at the six-hour mark than anyone else. Unfortunately, this coverage also comes with a price. All of the American Express cards with trip delay insurance that kicks in at 6 hours have annual fees over $400.

The other important comparison to note is American Express coverage is limited to $300 per covered trip on cards with benefits that kick in at 12 hours and $500 per covered trip on cards with trip delay insurance that starts at a 6-hour delay. In addition to this American Express specifies that only 2 claims per eligible card are allowed per 12 consecutive month period.

The American Express fine print is as follows

American Express trip delay covers the cardholder, cardholder’s spouse or domestic partner, dependent children under age 26, and person(s) employed by the company for which the business credit card account is issued (for business cards).

Unlike Chase, “traveling companions” are also covered. American Express defines traveling companions as “an individual who has made advanced arrangements with you or your family members to travel together for all or part of a covered trip”. This is huge for anyone who wants to travel with friends and can be a great selling point to get the extra spend on your card so that you can earn extra points for the trip.

With American Express the full amount of the trip must be charged to your eligible card. This includes points, redeemable certificates, vouchers, coupons, or discounts as long as the entire cash portion is charged to your card. This may be helpful for those of you who have certificates given to you by airlines from trips that were canceled due to Covid restrictions.

lounge access

The trip delay reimbursement should cover expenses while waiting for flight such as meals and lodging.

Similar to Chase’s trip delay insurance, reimbursement covers expenses such as meals and lodging and only covers expenses not otherwise covered by insurance, the common carrier, or another party. In addition, the delay again needs to happen away from the cardholder’s city of residence.

American Express must be notified within 60 days of the covered loss and the only way to open a claim is by calling 1-844-933-0648. They will require written proof of loss which can be provided within 180 days following the date of the delay. If there is a documented reason you can not submit the written proof of loss within 180 days there is a stipulation that allows you to file the written proof of loss up to a year after the due date.

Supporting documentation you need may include information like:

  • Original and updated travel itinerary and/or the common carrier ticket
  • Card statement showing the charge for the ticket
  • Statement from the common carrier explaining the reason for the delay
  • Copies of itemized receipts for your claimed expenses

Lastly, it’s important to note for all American Express cards the maximum amount they will cover is $500 for each purchased ticket (1 covered hazard per trip).

Other Cards with Trip Delay Insurance

There are a couple of other notable cards with Trip Delay Insurance and a few notable cards without it.

First the downsides. If you’ve read to this point you’re probably ready for the Citibank section since they have been a major player in the travel rewards industry for years and are one of the three main transferable points currencies. Unfortunately, they are the notable card issuer without any travel protections. For years Citibank provided cards with some of the best travel protections around but as of September 22, 2019, they removed most of the extra benefits across their line of cards.

Now for the two positives both U.S. Bank and Bank of America have been on the sidelines of the travel rewards sector for years offering a few select cards that provided value but not creating any loyalty and without any cards targeted at higher tier travelers with higher annual fees. That has shifted slightly over the past five years or so and both offer a card that includes trip delay insurance.

Bank of American offers the Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card that includes trip delay insurance. For this card the benefits kick in after a 12-hour delay and, like many of the lower tier Chase cards, up to $500 in coverage is available per ticket.

stay near airport

To file a claim you have to call your benefits administrator at 800-592-4089 to start the claims process but unfortunately details on any fine print for this benefit are difficult to find without opening the card. All that said with only a $95 annual fee, $100 incidental credit, TSA Pre✓ ® or Global Entry credit, and trip delay insurance this card can definitely pay for itself pretty quickly.

U.S. Bank made some waves a few years back when they introduced the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card. With a large travel credit and points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel purchases, some were wondering if this card could potentially compete with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Unfortunately, without the transfer partners, the fanfare quickly died. However, there are still plenty of people utilizing it for the 3x points on mobile wallet spend and this card can also be super useful for its travel benefits.

As far as trip delay insurance goes, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card includes coverage for up to $500 in covered expenses per ticket but also includes the shorter 6-hour timeframe (or an overnight delay) for the benefit to kick in. With a $400 annual fee, this card actually has one of the best trip delay reimbursement policies for the price you pay. In addition, you only need to charge a portion of your ticket to your U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card to be covered.

The fine print for the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card states that coverage is limited to you, your spouse, and your dependent children under 22 years of age. Similar to other cards this benefit is supplemental coverage meaning that they will only cover items not covered by the airline or another party.

One important note is that a trip delay reimbursement claim needs to be filed within 30 days of the covered trip delay. To file a claim you can call the benefits administrator at 1-80-546-9806 or call collect if you’re outside of the US at 1-804-673-7481. Similar to Chase U.S. Bank also allows filing online at www.eclaimsline.com. After making this initial claim a claim form will be sent which needs to be returned by mail within 90 days of the covered trip delay to:

Card Benefit Services
P.O. Box 72034
Richmond, VA 23255

Similar to other trip delay insurance you will likely need to provide the following:

  • The common carrier ticket showing the total amount charged
  • Card statement showing the charge for the ticket
  • Documentation showing any other payment method used (in addition to the US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card)
  • Statement from the common carrier explaining the reason for the delay
  • Copies of itemized receipts for your claimed expenses

Takeaways

It’s important to note that many of these cards have restrictions on how trip delay benefits are covered. The biggest one that jumps out at me is these expenses will not be covered if the airline or another form of trip insurance covers them.  This means that in many cases instead of waiting in the line that is likely 50 passengers long all having the same issue as you to try to get a meal voucher or hotel for the night, you are likely better off finding your own hotel and meals and just saving your receipts.

Also be aware that if you’re traveling through a heavily populated area, it can be easy to hit the maximum with a last-minute hotel night and a meal, so be careful especially when planning to utilize American Express’s 12-hour trip delay insurance that only covers up to $300.

If you’re looking for my pick on the best card to keep you covered I have a soft spot in my heart for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but I was also surprised when I started to dig into the value proposition of the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card. Either way, it’s nice to know that a single delay could easily cover the annual fee for any of these cards which is a great reminder to never forget some of the lesser-known benefits that a lot of these cards offer.

Hopefully, with all of this information the next time you find yourself delayed or stranded when trying to make a connection you’ll be able to remain relatively calm and know that if you’ve used any of the cards above you’ll be covered.