When it comes time to book a plane ticket, there’s one important decision that may not immediately cross your mind: which credit card to use. Your first instinct might be to reach for the card that earns the most points on flights, but that’s not necessarily the best choice.

While booking a $200 plane ticket might earn you as many as 1,000 points, you might be forgoing valuable travel protections that could save you hundreds of dollars if your trip is delayed, canceled, or interrupted.

Fortunately, there are several credit cards that have great travel protections and earn a bunch of points when booking flights. Here are a few of our favorites.

Best Credit Cards for Booking Flights

In This Article

Travel Protection Benefits
Trip delay reimbursement 

Best Overall Credit Card – Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers the strongest trip protections of any credit card on the market. Here are a few of the benefits you’ll be eligible for if you pay for your ticket with this card:

  • Trip delay reimbursement – up to $500 if your trip is delayed 6+ hours or overnight.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance – up to $10,000 per person (maximum $20,000 per trip) for prepaid, nonrefundable expenses or change fees resulting from covered events like severe weather, terrorism, or major medical issues.
  • Baggage delay reimbursement – up to $100 per day for 5 days if your bag is delayed 6+ hours.
  • Lost and damaged baggage insurance – up to $3,000 per person for most items; capped at $500 per person for jewelry and watches and $500 per person for cameras and electronics.
  • Emergency medical assistance – up to $2,500 of expenses not covered by insurance (with a $50 deductible) when traveling 100+ miles from home for 5-60 days
  • Medical evacuation – up to $100,000 when traveling 100+ miles from home for 5-60 days.
  • Travel accident insurance – up to $1,000,000 while you are on a common carrier (like an airplane, train, bus, or cruise ship) and up to $100,000 for other accidents (up to 30 days after leaving home).

On top of all this, you’ll earn 3X Ultimate Rewards points.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after you spend $4,000 spend in 3 months

Learn more
Savvy Traveler: How to Handle Flight Cancellations Like a Pro
 Trip cancellation and interruption insurance

Best Beginner Card – Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is an excellent choice if the Sapphire Reserve isn’t in your budget. It offers very similar protections to the Sapphire Reserve:

  • Trip delay reimbursement – up to $500 if your trip is delayed 12+ hours or overnight.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance – up to $10,000 per person (maximum $20,000 per trip) for prepaid, nonrefundable expenses or change fees resulting from covered events like severe weather, terrorism, or major medical issues.
  • Baggage delay reimbursement – up to $100 per day for 5 days if your bag is delayed 6+ hours.
  • Lost and damaged baggage insurance – up to $3,000 per person for most items; capped at $500 per person for jewelry and watches and $500 per person for cameras and electronics.
  • Travel accident insurance – up to $500,000 while you are on a common carrier (like an airplane, train, bus, or cruise ship) and up to $100,000 for other accidents (up to 30 days after leaving home).

The key differences compared to the Sapphire Reserve are a longer delay period to qualify for trip delay reimbursement (12 hours instead of 6), a lower limit on common carrier travel accident insurance ($500,000 instead of $1 million), and no emergency medical assistance or emergency evacuation coverage.

With the Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 2X Ultimate Rewards points on all travel purchases, including airfare.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after you spend $4,000 spend in 3 months

Learn more
Emergency medical assistance
Emergency medical assistance

Best Trip Cancellation & Interruption Coverage – Bank of America Premium Rewards

The Bank of America Premium Rewards card offers a slightly lower level of coverage than the Sapphire Reserve, except for trip cancellation and interruption, which is the most generous we’ve seen on any card:

Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card
Photo Credit: Bank of America
  • Trip delay reimbursement – up to $500 if your trip is delayed 12+ hours or overnight.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance – up to $50,000 per person per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable expenses or change fees resulting from covered events like severe weather, terrorism, or major medical issues.
  • Baggage delay reimbursement – up to $100 per day for 5 days if your bag is delayed 6+ hours.
  • Lost and damaged baggage insurance – coverage if your luggage or its contents are lost or stolen while in the possession of a common carrier (airplane, train, bus, or cruise ship). Coverage details and limits are not publicly available.
  • Emergency evacuation coverage – medical services and transportation when away from home. Coverage details and limits are not publicly available.
Lost and damaged baggage insurance
 Lost and damaged baggage insurance

Best American Express Card – The Amex Platinum Card

American Express only began offering travel protections in January 2020, but the benefits offered on The Platinum Card from American Express and The Business Platinum Card are pretty strong. Okay, so it’s actually two cards.

  • Trip delay reimbursement – up to $500 if your trip is delayed 6+ hours, maximum of 2 claims per 12-month period.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance – up to $10,000 per trip for prepaid, nonrefundable expenses or change fees resulting from covered events like severe weather, terrorism, or major medical issues, with a maximum of $20,000 per 12-month period.
  • Lost and damaged baggage insurance – up to $3,000 per person for carry-on baggage and $2,000 per person for checked baggage; capped at $1,000 per person for high-risk items.
  • Medical evacuation – Platinum and Business Platinum cardmembers and their family members can have a medical evacuation coordinated by the American Express Platinum Global Assist Hotline at no cost during the first 100 days of a trip when traveling 100+ miles from home. This coverage applies regardless of whether you use your Platinum or Business Platinum card to pay for any portion of your trip.

Unlike the Chase Sapphire cards, American Express doesn’t offer coverage for delayed baggage or travel accidents. Its coverage also requires that your travel be round-trip.

While this won’t be an issue for most people, the necessary documentation may become confusing for complex itineraries. On the other hand, American Express tends to handle claims much more quickly and easily than Chase.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Earn 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. Terms apply.

Learn more
Medical evacuation
Medical evacuation

Other Amex Cards

Several other Amex cards offer the same level of travel protections as the Platinum cards, with the exception of medical evacuation coverage. These cards include:

However, you’ll earn less valuable rewards points for airfare purchases.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Earn 150,000 Hilton points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months.

Learn more

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card

40,000 SkyMiles & (10,000 MQMs) after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months

Learn more

Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card

45,000 Delta SkyMiles and 10,000 MQMs after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months

Learn more

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

75,000 bonus points after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months

Learn more

How to Use 100K Delta SkyMiles
Delta Airlines

Other Cards to Consider

If you don’t have one of these credit cards, here are several other credit cards that also provide some valuable trip protections.

Chase Ritz-Carlton Credit Card

The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card from Chase offers the same level of travel protections as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. However, you’ll only earn 3X Marriott points which are worth significantly less than 3X Ultimate Rewards points.

This card is no longer available to new applicants, but you may be able to product change to it if you hold another Marriott personal credit card from Chase.

Chase United Infinite Club Card

The United Club Card offers the same travel protections as the Sapphire Preferred, plus medical evacuation coverage. You’ll earn 2X United miles per dollar spent on United tickets and 1.5X miles per dollar spent everywhere else.

United Club Card

100,000 bonus miles after $5,000 spend in 3 months

Learn more

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

The Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card offers similar travel protections to the Sapphire Preferred, but with lower dollar limits for trip cancellation and interruption (maximum $5,000 per person and $10,000 per trip). You’ll earn 3X Ultimate Rewards points on travel purchases with this card.

Chase Ink Business Preferred SM Credit Card

100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after you spend $15,000 in 3 months

Learn more

World of Hyatt Credit Card

The World of Hyatt Credit Card from Chase offers similar travel protections to the Sapphire Preferred, but with lower dollar limits for trip cancellation and interruption (maximum $5,000 per person and $10,000 per trip). You’ll earn 2X World of Hyatt points for every dollar spent on airline tickets.

The World of Hyatt Credit Card

25,000 points after $3k spend in 3 months, another 25k points after $6k total spend in 6 months

Learn more

amex gold trip delay insurance

Credit Cards to Avoid

Here’s a few popular travel-oriented credit cards that we wouldn’t recommend using to buy plane tickets.

All Citi cards

While the Citi Prestige Card and Citi Premier Card offer significant points earning potential when booking flights, Citi offers no travel protections whatsoever, even on credit cards with $450 annual fees.

Citi Premier Card

60,000 points after $4k spend in 3 months

Learn more by visiting our
credit cards page.

American Express Gold Card and American Express Green Card

The American Express Gold Card and American Express Green Card. Though both of these cards will earn you 3X points on airfare, they only offer trip delay insurance for delays longer than 12 hours and insurance for lost or damaged baggage – no coverage for canceled or interrupted trips like you get with the Platinum cards.

American Express Gold Card

10xT Thoughts: A great card for category spenders who want more rewards for their spend! Currently offering 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Learn more

American Express Green Card

30,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months

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IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card from Chase offers similar travel protections to the Sapphire Preferred, but delayed baggage coverage is capped at 3 days, trip cancellation coverage is capped at $5,000 per person and $10,000 per trip, and there is no trip delay coverage. Plus, you’ll earn just 1X IHG point on airline tickets.

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

125,000 points after $3,000 spend in 3 months

Learn more

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless and Marriott Monvoy Bold Credit Cards

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card and the Marriott Bonvoy Bold credit card from Chase. Though these cards offer coverage for trip delays and lost luggage, they do not cover trip cancellation/interruption, travel accident insurance, or delayed baggage reimbursement.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

100,000 bonus points after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months

Learn more

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

100,000 bonus points after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months

Learn more

Bottom Line

Not all credit cards are created equal, and this really shows when it comes to the benefits you’ll get when you book your flights. Some cards include travel insurance or free checked bags in addition to earning a bunch of points. Depending on how often you travel, these benefits can really add up.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

New to the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card to start with. With a bonus of 80,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months and 2x points on dining and travel, this card truly cannot be beat! 

Learn more

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Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


2 Responses to “Best Credit Cards for Booking Flights”


Jessica Walker

I find it interesting that you don’t include any standard airline cards other than the one United card. You’re saying that I shouldn’t book my Delta flight on my Delta Platinum Amex, but on my CSP? Or Southwest, or AA… Where do these cards rank and why?

Bryce Conway

That’s exactly what we are saying. The co-brand cards are lower because they often don’t come with any travel protections. Really the only upside is a small earnings multiplier (which is comparable to some of the premium cards anyway) and in some cases free checked bags. Otherwise they are just counting on you to fall for the trap of thinking “a delta card must be best for delta bookings, right?”


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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