Premium Credit Card Benefit/Insurance Showdown – Citi Prestige vs. CSR vs. Amex Plat

There are a number of these credit card benefits posts out there, most written by affiliate bloggers who simply copy and paste from benefits brochures or give a brief description of each benefit followed by lists of credit card application links. Rather than post that kind of drivel, I figured that a concise, updated, and non-biased comparison and suggestion of the best card to use for each benefit might be helpful.

This is not a how-to on filing claims, nor does it cover in great detail the ins and outs of benefit T&Cs. Rather, I’m simply providing suggestions for the best benefit provider in each category, as would be applicable to the average person; e.g., not someone who travels with their stamp collection in checked baggage or who rents RVs while traveling.

For reference, Citi Prestige benefits can be found here, Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits can be found here, and American Express Platinum benefits can be found by logging in online and clicking on the “Benefits” link.

One final note before we get started, regarding trip delay and baggage protections: while previously the Citi Prestige offered benefits only for revenue tickets on which the entire cost of the ticket was paid for with the card, Citi changed their terms in May of 2016. With the new terms, as long as a portion of the “full fare” is paid with the card, coverage applies. Taxes/fees on award tickets paid for with the card do trigger the coverage.

Along those lines, I’d avoid using American Express cards for those interested in taking advantage of trip delay or baggage delay coverage, as US-issued AmEx cards don’t come with any such protections.

TRIP DELAY (note that this is separate from trip cancellation, which I don’t cover in this post)

Winner: Citi Prestige

  • Benefit triggered after: 3 hours
  • Purchase requirement: Some portion of the fare; award taxes/fees count
  • Covered persons: cardmember, authorized users, cardmember’s spouse and dependents, travel companions
  • Benefit amount: Up to $500 for reasonable expenses including hotels, transportation, meals, necessities

In addition, there are reports that anyone who is traveling without the cardmember but on a trip paid for with the card is covered as well, though this is an unpublished benefit and may not be the case with every claim.

Chase Sapphire Reserve:

  • Benefit triggered after: 6 hours or overnight stay
  • Purchase requirement: Some portion of the fare; award taxes/fees count
  • Covered persons: cardmember and immediate family
  • Benefit amount: Up to $500 for reasonable expenses including hotels, transportation, meals, necessities

DELAYED BAGGAGE

Winner: Citi Prestige

  • Benefit triggered after: 3 hours
  • Purchase requirement: Some portion of the fare; award taxes/fees count
  • Covered persons: cardmember, authorized users, cardmember’s spouse and dependents
  • Benefit amount: Up to $500

Again, an unpublished and unofficial benefit is that anyone traveling on airfare paid with the card, regardless of relationship to the cardmember, can be covered.

Chase Sapphire Reserve:

  • Benefit triggered after: 6 hours
  • Purchase requirement: Some portion of the fare; award taxes/fees count
  • Covered persons: cardmember and immediate family
  • Benefit amount: Up to $100 per day for a maximum of 5 days 

LOST/DAMAGED BAGGAGE

Winner: Citi Prestige

  • Coverage: Up to $3000 per traveler ($2000 for New York residents)
  • Purchase requirement: Some portion of the fare; award taxes/fees count
  • Persons covered: Cardmember, family members, travel companions
  • Exclusions: Certain items (antiques, collectibles, event tickets, etc.)

Chase Sapphire Reserve:

  • Coverage: Up to $3000 per traveler, but only up to $500 per person for jewelry or electronics. This $500 is included in rather than on top of the $3000 maximum.
  • Purchase requirement: Some portion of the fare; award taxes/fees count
  • Persons covered: Cardmember, immediate family members
  • Exclusions: Certain items (antiques, collectibles, event tickets, etc.)

American Express Platinum:

  • Coverage: Up to $2000 per traveler for checked luggate, $3000 for checked and carry-on bags
  • Purchase requirement: Entire ticket must be paid for with card and/or MR points. Award taxes/fees do not count.
  • Persons covered: Cardmember, immediate family members
  • Exclusions: Certain items (antiques, collectibles, event tickets, etc.)

CAR RENTAL

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • Type of coverage: Primary
  • Maximum Coverage: $75,000
  • Exclusions: Certain vehicles, including motorcycles, certain vans, RVs, etc.

Citi Prestige:

  • Type of coverage: Secondary in the US, primary elsewhere
  • Maximum Coverage: $100,000 (I don’t see the extra $25,000 over Chase being a significant factor when determining which card to use)
  • Exclusions: No published vehicle exclusions. However, Mastercard rental car coverage does not cover tire blowouts or tire/rim damage “not caused by theft or vandalism or is not a result of a vehicle collision.”

The AmEx Platinum, by comparison, is pretty weak compared to the other two,

  • Type of coverage: Secondary
  • Maximum Coverage: $75,000
  • Exclusions: Certain vehicles, like Chase. Also, any vehicles with an MSRP over $75,000 are not covered (I didn’t realize this when I charged my Lufthansa first class Porsche rental to my AmEx Plat…)

PURCHASE PROTECTION AND EXTENDED WARRANTY

Winner: This is where American Express really shines. While the published terms of the purchase protection and extended warranty benefits are similar to those offered by Citi and Chase, AmEx has a very easy, quick, and possibly automated approval process for low-value claims that requires little to no documentation and can be completed online. While I certainly don’t condone abuse of this benefit, it’s reassuring to know that claims for less expensive items can be easily and quickly taken care of.

As recently as last week, I filed a claim for a $70+ pair of running shoes that had some ripped stitching, beyond what normal wear and tear would have caused. As the manufacturer warranty period had ended, I filed a claim online with AmEx. In under six hours and without having to talk to anyone or provide any documentation, my claim was approved and a statement credit was issued back to my card. Notably, the fantastic purchase protection and extended warranty benefits apply on all AmEx cards, rather than just the more premium products. There are countless glowing reviews of American Express honoring these benefits on higher-priced items as well, and the general consensus is that AmEx offers the best purchase protection and extended warranty benefit.

Citi and Chase both offer similar benefits, and all three card issuers cover up to $10,000 per item/occurrence and up to $50,000 per year.

MEDICAL EVACUATION

Winner: The American Express Platinum has the far superior benefit here. Most of us, I imagine, remember the recent experience of a medical evacuation shared by a VFTW reader. In addition to having received a number of very positive anecdotal reviews, the AmEx Platinum medical evacuation benefit has no maximum coverage limit and does not require the trip to have been paid for with the Platinum card.

Chase and Citi, meanwhile, each have an $100,000 limit and both require the trip on which the traveler gets sick/injured to have been paid for with the respective card.

WRAP-UP

While I don’t have any personal experience filing claims with Citi, numerous reports suggest that this is a reasonably easy and expeditious process, and some travel-related claims are instantaneously approved without documentation while still on the phone with an agent. Chase claims, in contrast, are more demanding and generally take longer. Finally, American Express has what is widely regarded to be the best customer service when it comes to claims. Part of this may be due to the fact that AmEx claims are handled through their in-house AMEX Assurance company, while Chase and Citi use third-party providers for benefits administration.

As can be seen above, each card has its own strong suit, with the Citi Prestige shining for most travel-related coverage while AmEx wins out for purchase protection and extended warranty coverage. That said, I would argue that — excepting expensive and high-value purchases for which it’s advisable to use AmEx cards — the value of points earned should be weighed more heavily than benefits/protections when determining which card to use for a given purchase. While, for instance, Citi offers better travel protections than Chase does, I value Ultimate Rewards points considerably more than I value ThankYou Points, and thus for me the better benefits offered by Citi are not worth forgoing UR points. I’m not going to try to sell you on some “objective” valuation of UR vs. TYP vs. MR points, but my recommendation for the best card for airfare purchases is two-fold: the Prestige for itineraries on which bags are checked or delays are expected (DEN during afternoon summer storm season, for instance, or IAD-EWR really anytime), and either the CSR or the AmEx Plat (depending on preference for earning URs vs MRs) for all other airfare purchases.

Comments

  1. I think one more category it add on Purchase is price protection/rewind when items go on sale within 90 days. Both Chase & Citi have this while AMEX does not.

  2. I recently filed a claim for a hotel charge (needed a room due to a delayed flight) through the Prestige card. After sending the claim company a brief email, I received a note saying I should have an answer shortly and that my account would be credited within the next 2 to 3 billing cycles should I qualify for the claim. A credit for my hotel charges was posted to my account two days later. Awesome service.

  3. For the trip delay insurance, does the airline ticket need to be booked as round trip or will this cover one way tickets?

  4. Thanks – good summary.

    However I have read several reports that taxes/fees on awards are not part of the base fare and therefore Citi will not provide coverage. Did you uncover evidence to the contrary?

    Also have seen reports that Chase only cover award taxes/fees trips if the booking was made with a UR partner (eg. BA, UA etc). Again have you new info?

    • What you said was indeed the case previous to the changes Citi made last year. My understanding is that award fees/taxes now do trigger the coverage, even though as you mention fees/taxes aren’t part of the fare itself (wording hasn’t been changed on Citi documentation from what I can see). A quick call to Citi this morning confirmed that as well.

      I have not seen that about Chase requiring awards to be booked with UR partners, and that stipulation is nowhere to be found in any of their terms & conditions.

  5. Just a pointer about Amex Plat. car rental insurance. It is secondary unless you don’t have a primary then it becomes the primary with no deductible. (Based on personal experience)

  6. Do any of these have coverage limits only up to the amount placed on the card? For example, you pay $5.60 for an award flight departing the US, and incur a substantial delay. Will they reimburse you for only $5.60, or for the $500 you spent on rerouting your plans?

    Similarly for purchase protection, I used it for Chase, and the limit is up to the amount placed on the card. For example, I paid using a combination of gift cards and my Chase card, but Chase would only refund the amount put on the card.

  7. I can’t find taxes being valid as ‘partial’ payment anywhere in the terms and conditions for cards. I’ve called the benefits department for Sapphire Preferred and Prestige and both said that part of the ‘paid fare’ must be purchased using the card to be eligible for the benefits. Is this a YMMV type situation on whether trip insurance/delay will actually be honored?

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