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I like to be optimistic about travel, but things don’t always go as smoothly as planned. Delays happen and, at one point or another, they happen to all of us.
Thankfully, many credit cards offer trip delay protection. Having trip delay insurance gives you options instead of waiting for or relying on an airline to provide accommodations and meals.
If you purchase your flight with the right credit card, you can help yourself during the rare 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.
What is Trip Delay Insurance 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 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 Insurance 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!
All issuers require a minimum delay in order for protections to kick in, typically between 6 and 12 hours. If your delay causes you to have an overnight stay, then protections kick in from all issues regardless of the duration of the delay.
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.
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||6 hours||$500 per ticket|
|US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card||6 hours||$500 per ticket|
|Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card*||6 hours||$500 per ticket|
|Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Credit Card||6 hours||$500 per trip|
|Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card||6 hours||$500 per trip|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card||6 hours||$500 per trip|
|The Platinum Card from American Express||6 hours||$500 per trip|
|Centurion Card from American Express||6 hours||$500 per ticket|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||12 hours||$500 per ticket|
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold credit card||12 hours||$500 per ticket|
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card||12 hours||$500 per ticket|
|United Club Infinite Card||12 hours||$500 per ticket|
|United Explorer Card||12 hours||$500 per ticket|
|World of Hyatt Credit Card||12 hours||$500 per ticket|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card||12 hours||$500 per ticket|
|Ink Plus Business Card*||12 hours||$500 per ticket|
Cards with an asterisk (*) are no longer available for new applications.
Although we’ve seen some issuers, like Citi, cut trip delay insurance from their offerings, we’ve seen others like American Express and Bank of America add trip delay insurance to their cards. With new credit card issuers coming on board, you now have twenty cards to choose from to get trip delay insurance on your next trip.
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.
Trip Delay Insurance Overall Champion: Chase Sapphire Reserve
If you’re looking for the best trip delay protection, look no further than the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
For flights delayed at least 6 hours or overnight, you and your family members 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 Chase Sapphire Reserve card or with points in the Chase Travel Portal. This means taxes and fees on an award ticket booked with an airline’s frequent flyer program is sufficient to receive coverage.
Keep in mind expenses must be reasonable and are subject to the bank’s approval.
A covered hazard includes skyjacking or hijacking (yikes!), equipment failure, inclement weather, or labor strikes.
The benefits are limited only to family traveling with you. Family is pretty restrictive, limited to only your spouse and any dependent children under the age of 26.
This is the same coverage offered on the Chase Ritz-Carlton card, but this product is no longer open to new applicants. If you have the Chase Ritz Carlton card, then you should be aware that you have the same coverage as the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Trip Delay Insurance on All 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
- World of Hyatt Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold credit card
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card
- United Club Infinite Card
- United Explorer Card
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.
American Express Cards
American Express is a newcomer to the trip delay insurance benefit, adding it to a number of their cards in early 2020.
The level of benefit you’ll receive depends on which card you have. If you have a premium card from American Express, you’ll receive $500 per covered trip after a 6-hour delay. This benefit is offered on the following cards:
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card (personal and business cards)
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
- The Platinum Card from American Express (personal and business cards)
- Centurion Card from American Express (personal and business cards
If you have a non-premium American Express card, you’re eligible for $300 in coverage after a 12-hour delay. This is offered on the following cards:
- Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card (personal and business cards)
- American Express Gold Card
- American Express Green Card
and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months.
and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in the first 3 months. Plus, earn a $100 Statement Credit after your first Delta purchase on your new Card in the first 3 months.
Coverage requires charging the entire amount of the trip to your eligible card. If you use frequent flier miles, paying the taxes and fees is sufficient. The trip must be round-trip, but that can include two one-way tickets. You’ll have to pay the taxes and fees on both tickets with the same American Express card to be eligible for coverage.
You’re eligible to receive reimbursement for delays that are caused due to bad weather, terrorist actions, hijackings, equipment failure, or lost or stolen passports or travel documents. To file a claim, call the American Express benefits administrator at 1-844-933-0648 within 60 days of experiencing a covered loss.
What You Will Need to File a Claim
You will want to file your claim as soon as possible. Bank of America allows 45 days to submit a claim while Chase and American Express both allow 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.
How to File a Claim With Chase
Your best way to file a claim with Chase is to use the online Card Benefit Center. You’ll be prompted to enter your card number and select what type of claim you’re filing. After entering some standard identification info you’ll be asked for trip information. This is where being organized will save a lot of time.
After submitting your trip information you’ll be prompted to upload a few files. Be prepared by having the following information ready:
- A copy of your common carrier ticket
- Proof of purchase if you used multiple payment methods (for example, if part of the trip was paid with points, a copy of a receipt showing that)
- A statement from the common carrier explaining why the travel was delayed (this is best done at the gate, often referred to as a “Military Excuse.”)
- Receipt showing the that the fare for the common carrier was made to the card on which you are seeking reimbursement
- Itemized receipts for the expenses you incurred due to a delay
- A copy showing any reimbursement you received from the common carrier or any third-party insurance
If you don’t have this information ready at the time you begin your claim, you can return to the website later to upload them or email the documentation to [email protected], just remember to include your claim number on any documents you email.
After submitting your form you will hear back from a claims examiner asking for either more documentation or letting you know your claim is approved. Once approved, you’ll be asked if you want your reimbursement as either a paper check or direct deposit. It should take a few days to receive either option.
How to File a Claim With American Express
Filing a claim with American Express isn’t quite as easy as filing a claim with Chase. Currently there is no way to begin a claim online. To open a claim you’ll need to call the American Express Benefits Administrator at 1-844-933-0648 within 60 days of your loss.
After opening your claim you’ll be notified about what information is needed to process your claim. You’ll have 180 days from the date of loss to submit the required information. At a minimum, be prepared with the following information:
- A statement from the common carrier that the trip was delayed
- A receipt showing that the trip was purchased using an eligible American Express card
- Copies of your common carrier tickets
- Receipts for any travel expenses incurred
- Any other relevant information that may help the benefits administrator process your claim (such as any other reimbursement you received from the common carrier)
After submitting your information, you should hear back from a claims representative about what steps, if any, are needed from you to finish processing your claim.
You should always pay for part of your flights and travel using a credit card that offers trip delay protection.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve starts at a 6-hour delay, and many other Chase cards have the benefit with a 12-hour delay. American Express is new to the game but is worth considering.
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.