One of the big perks of having a premium travel credit card is the travel protections the card provides, like trip delay insurance. Travel delays or cancellations are a part of life but knowing the costs that you incur will be reimbursed makes one less thing to worry about. All you need to do is make alternate plans to get to/from where you were going and arrange to be comfortable until that happens.
Trip delay insurance is something you don’t think about until you need to use it. Say you show up to the airport for your plane and it’s delayed 30 minutes, then 60 minutes, then 2 hours and eventually you’re told that there’s no way to get you to where you were going until the next day. You’ll need to find somewhere to stay, somewhere to eat and a way to get to/from those locations. Most people will get on a very long line to see if the airline will give them a free hotel night or a meal voucher. If you used a card that provides trip delay insurance, you know that you’ll be reimbursed for the reasonable cost of a hotel, meals, taxi/Uber and travel essentials during your delay and can make your own plans without having to wait.
I used to use my Citi Prestige for travels where trip delay coverage was important. However, Citi eliminated all of the travel coverages from their cards and I had to find another card that provides coverage for delays.
Things to consider when looking at trip delay coverage
Just like all types of insurance, there are several things to think about when evaluating trip delay coverage between credit cards. They can include:
- How long does the delay need to be before I can file a claim?
- What types of delays are covered?
- Do I need to pay for the entire ticket to be covered (award tickets)?
- How much coverage does the card provide?
Would you be surprised to learn that only one premium travel card offers any sort of trip delay insurance?
The Sapphire Reserve is the mainstream premium travel card that currently offers travel delay coverage.
- Claims can be made for delays longer than six hours
- You need to purchase either a portion of or the entire cost of the fare using your account
- Coverage is up to $500 for each purchased ticket for reasonable expenses
- Coverage is for you, your spouse and dependent children under 22
- You are covered for reasonable additional expenses, including but not limited to meals, lodging, toiletries, medication and other personal use items
There are other lesser-known premium cards that offer trip delay coverage after a six-hour delay. These include the US Bank Altitude Reserve card and the CNB Crystal Infinite Visa.
Other Travel Cards
Many other cards provide trip delay coverage but only if your flight is delayed more than 12 hours. They include but are not limited to the following cards:
Notably missing from this list is American Express cards such as the AMEX Platinum card or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card. While marketed as premium travel cards, they currently do not provide any coverage for trip delays. That’s changing in 2020, but for now, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the main premium card game in town.
There are other ways to protect yourself against trip delays, like paying for Freebird insurance to rebook you on another flight. Even if I pay for that insurance, I’m also using my Sapphire Reserve for our airfare expenses. It provides coverage for delays over six hours and works even if you only pay for a portion of the ticket with the card (like paying the taxes of an award ticket).
If you have an airline co-brand card like Delta or American, you don’t have to use the card to pay for your ticket in order to get the free bag benefits like you have to with the United card, but we’re not flying on them anyway. Why not get the best of both worlds by using a card that provides excellent trip delay coverage and earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary