Comparing Trip Delay Insurance between Credit Cards

There are a lot of premium credit cards on the market that offer cardholders benefits when traveling. It’s easy to compare sign-up bonuses, day-to-day earnings, and reward redemption potentials. Based on those information, you might decide to use one card over another when booking a trip.

Trip Delay Insurance

However, many of these credit cards also offer some sort of trip insurance, which can be really useful when things go wrong. In this post, I will compare the trip delay insurance between a few notable personal credit cards. This is obviously not going to be an exhaustive list, but I tried to include cards that are of interest (and available!) to most people.

A number of credit cards provide trip delay insurance, though with different coverages

A number of credit cards provide trip delay insurance, though with different coverages

Not all trip delay insurances are created equal. On the generous end, Citi Prestige’s trip delay benefit kicks in after just a 3-hour delay, and will cover all of your travel companions whose tickets you purchased. On the opposite end of the spectrum, many co-branded Chase cards only offer the benefit when the delay exceeds 12 hours, and will only cover spouses and children under 22.

Comparing Coverages

In the table below, I have included a number of popular travel credit cards with their respective coverages. You will notice that some cards offer coverage even if you didn’t pay for the ticket in full with the card, which is noted under the “Partial Payment” column. I also tried my best to include the most up-to-date benefits guide, which you can check out for more details.

Card Minimum Delay Limit per Traveler Eligible Travelers Partial Payment Annual Fee
Citi Prestige (GUIDE) 3 Hours $500 Travel Companions Yes#

$450.00

Citi ThankYou Premier (GUIDE) 12 Hours $500 Travel Companions Yes#

$95.00

Citi AAdvantage Executive Card (GUIDE) 3 Hours $500 Travel Companions Yes

$450.00

Chase Sapphire Reserve (GUIDE) 6 Hours $500 Spouse + Children < 22 Yes

$450.00

Chase Sapphire Preferred (GUIDE) 12 Hours $500 Spouse + Children < 22 Yes

$95.00

Chase Hyatt Card (GUIDE) 12 Hours $500 Spouse + Children < 22 Yes

$75.00

Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card (GUIDE) 6 Hours $500 Spouse + Children < 22 Yes

$450.00

Chase United MileagePlus Club Card (GUIDE) 12 Hours $500 Spouse + Children < 22 Yes

$450.00

Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card (GUIDE) 12 Hours $500 Spouse + Children < 22 Yes

$95.00

American Express Platinum Card * (GUIDE) 4 Hours $250 Supplementary cardmembers, Partner, Children < 25 No

$450.00

#Also includes purchases made (partially) with ThankYou points.
* Requires a $9.95 add-on, which is no longer accepting new enrollments.

Besides these cards mentioned here, there are also cards that brand themselves as travel cards, but do not offer a trip delay benefit. For example, the Barclay Arrival+ Plus card only offers baggage delay insurance, where they will reimburse you to $100 per day if your bags are delayed. The Capital One Venture card does not offer either trip delay or baggage delay insurance. It does, however, offer lost luggage reimbursements, as part of a Visa Signature benefit.

You can check out more travel credit cards here.

So…Which Card Should I Use?

This is a harder question to answer, and it largely comes down to:

  • How you value each currency
  • How you value the insurance
  • Who you are traveling with
  • Where you’re going

For example, you can earn 5x Membership Rewards (MR) points on airfare with the American Express Platinum Card—by far the most out of any card. However, unless you have previously enrolled in the add-on insurance, the card offers no trip delay protection. On the other hand, a card like the Citi Prestige offers the best trip delay protection. It is my go-to card if I’m traveling with friends, since they, too, are covered under Citi’s policy. However, it only earns 3x ThankYou points on airfares, and I don’t value ThankYou points quite as much as other currencies.

With domestic flights, often there are alternatives available within the same day. The trip delay protection, even if needed, might mean a meal or something small. Since I have statuses with airlines, I also tend to trust them to provide good arrangements. But your experience and traveling style or pattern might translate into totally different considerations.

When booking flights to Europe, I would consider the Europe Air Passenger Rights, which already provide pretty good compensation. For any delays over 3 hours that is preventable, passengers are compensated with EUR 250 to EUR 600, depending on the flight. In this case, I’m comfortable using the American Express Platinum Card, because I can earn tons of points and I’m willing to count myself unlucky if it’s a weather delay.

For other long-haul flights with higher chances of delays, I tend to go with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Citi Prestige. They both offer 3x points on airfares, but also provide good coverage. Incidental expenses can get high when I’m abroad, and flight frequencies aren’t like domestic flights. In these cases, I am willing to earn less points in exchange for peace of mind.

Preparing For and Filing a Claim

Hopefully you will never have to do this. But if your flight is delayed enough for the benefit to kick in, make sure you are prepared to make a claim from the get go.

If you are in the US, the first order of business is to ask the gate agent or customer representative for a “military excuse.” This will suffice as evidence that your flight was delayed and cancelled, and you don’t need to be in the military to get one. Most agents will understand what you mean, and can provide you with a printout quickly. You can always get proof of cancellation or delay later, but the process can be annoying.

Be sure to take pictures of any reissued boarding passes, and and hold onto any other paperwork you receive. Double check your coverage to find out what expenses are covered, and be reasonable in your spending. Get an itemized receipt for anything you purchase, and make sure you have a backup of those.

Many credit card companies outsource their claims filing processes, so you will have to call the bank to find out how to submit your claims. And depending on the bank and/or policy, you will likely receive a statement credit or a check once your claim is approved.

Have you ever had to make a claim with the trip delay insurance? What was your experience?

Comments

  1. Any thoughts on whether which cards pay for trip delay benefits when paying the taxes and fees on AWARD tickets (as opposed to purchased revenue tickets?)

    • Hi Bostonbali. Cards that provide coverage even when the card’s only used for part of the fare will offer trip delay benefits on award tickets, provided of course that you paid the taxes/fees with the card. You can see the table under “Partial Payment.”

  2. If you are delayed outside the US, will agents be familiar with the “military excuse”? Or is there another term they are familiar with?

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