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The perks of credit cards can go well beyond great bonuses for your everyday spend. In many cases they can also offer huge purchase & travel protection benefits, from rental car coverage to lost & delayed baggage benefits, to trip cancellation coverage.
I’ve taken advantage of these perks several times. In 2012 I damaged a rental car, and The Platinum Card® from American Express completely covered the damage. Similarly, in 2014 my bag was delayed, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred reimbursed me for necessary expenses.
Why I use the Citi Prestige® Card for airfare purchases
The Citi Prestige® Card is my all around favorite credit card at the moment, thanks to the slew of benefits it offers, including the following:
- A sign-up bonus of 40,000 ThankYou Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card within the first three months — those points can be transferred to one of their airline transfer partners, or redeemed for travel on any airline
- A $250 annual airline credit
- A fourth night free hotel benefit
- The most comprehensive Priority Pass membership offered by any card
- A $100 Global Entry fee credit
This is also the card I use for my airfare purchases, as it offers 3x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines.
What about the travel protection benefits?
Oddly I’ve been using this card for my airfare purchases without actually looking at the travel interruption benefits the card offers. This is probably because I rarely check bags, and also rarely deal with major travel interruptions. The number of times I’d take advantage of these perks would be minimal. Though when many cards offer bonus points for airfare purchases, it can be a good tiebreaker, and I also know this type of protection puts many people at ease.
So I had a look at the Citi Prestige® Card travel protection benefits, and they’re among the best out there. I’ll summarize them below, but see here for the full guide to protection benefits on the Citi Prestige® Card.
I should note upfront that you must pay for your purchase entirely with the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou points to be covered under these benefits — this doesn’t apply on award tickets where you’re only paying the taxes and fees on your card.
If you want protection when you’re just paying the taxes & fees for an award ticket on your card, use the Chase Sapphire Preferred, as it usually offers coverage under those circumstances.
Lastly, let me once again emphasize that I’m just summarizing the benefits below. Consult the protection benefits guide for the details and exclusions of this coverage.
Trip delay protection with the Citi Prestige® Card
Trip delay protection kicks in if your flight is delayed by at least three hours. You’re covered for up to $500 of necessary expenses, including hotel accommodations, ground transportation, meals, necessities you may need to carry out your work, or other items such as toiletries. The fact that this benefit kicks in after just three hours is extremely generous.
This benefit applies to you and authorized users on your Citi card, your spouse/domestic partner, and your dependents. This benefit doesn’t apply if government regulations or customs agencies interfered with your trip, your travel is for commuting purposes, or you were compensated for not taking an oversold flight.
Baggage delay protection with the Citi Prestige® Card
Delayed baggage protection kicks in if your bag doesn’t get to your destination within three hours of your arrival. You’re covered for up to $500 of necessary personal and business items. This is one of the best delayed baggage benefits offered by any card, as other cards require you to be separated from your bag for much longer in order for the benefit to kick in. For example, on the Chase Sapphire Preferred your bag has to be delayed at least six hours.
This benefit applies to you and authorized users on your Citi card, your spouse/domestic partner, and your dependents. This benefit doesn’t apply if you’re returning home, which is pretty standard for this type of protection.
Lost baggage protection with the Citi Prestige® Card
Lost baggage protection applies if your checked or carry-on luggage is permanently lost, stolen, or damaged. You can be refunded the cost to repair or replace the item, whichever is less.
You’re covered for up to $3,000 per person per trip ($2,000 for New York residents), or up to $10,000 in total for all traveling companions when their fare is charged to your card.
Trip cancellation & interruption protection with the Citi Prestige® Card
Trip cancellation & interruption protection covers up to $5,000 per person, per trip of non-refundable expenses. Covered reasons for this include the following:
Illness or personal matters:
- You become sick or injured, and a doctor confirms in writing that it’s severe enough to interrupt or cancel your trip.
- A family member has an injury or illness that’s either life-threatening or requires your care.
- You or a family member dies within 30 days of the trip’s departure date, or on the trip itself.
- You’re laid off or fired from your job, and you were continuously employed there as a full- or part-time permanent employee for at least 2 years.
- You are called to jury duty or receive a subpoena from the court, neither of which can be postponed.
- You’re a member of the United States Armed Forces, and your leave is revoked for reasons not related to war, mobilization or reassignment.
- You can no longer live in your permanent or temporary residence because of fire, flood, vandalism, burglary or a natural disaster.
- You or a family member is the victim of an assault that occurs within 10 days of your trip’s departure date and requires treatment at a hospital.
Travel or weather issues:
- You can’t travel because severe weather, a natural disaster or a labor dispute causes all travel to or from your destination to stop for at least 24 hours.
- You can’t travel due to a quarantine or a hijacking.
- You miss more than half of your trip because of missed connections, delayed departures, denied boarding, traffic accidents on your way to a departure, or lost or stolen passports.
- You miss a cruise or tour departure because all common carrier travel to or from your destination is cancelled or delayed at least 3 hours due to severe weather or a problem with the common carrier.
- Before your departure date, a cruise or tour operator cancels or postpones a prepaid event or activity, such as a shore excursion, and it’s not rescheduled at a time you can participate during your trip.
- A travel supplier, such as your airline or hotel, goes out of business or goes into financial default after you purchase your trip, impairing your ability to travel.
- A mandatory evacuation is ordered at your final destination because of a natural disaster, and you have at least half of your trip remaining.
- A terrorist incident occurs in your destination city after you purchase your trip, and you’re scheduled to arrive within 30 days of the incident.
Looking at the terms, this cancellation protection is much broader than I expected. For example, with the Paris attacks last year, it sounds like you could have used this benefit if you were scheduled to travel to Paris within 30 days, which is way more generous than any of the waivers offered by airlines. It also covers if you’re laid off from your job, which I didn’t realize was something covered under such a benefit.
This benefit applies to you and authorized users on your Citi card, your spouse/domestic partner, and your dependents.
Car rental insurance with the Citi Prestige® Card
The Citi Prestige Card offers primary car rental coverage outside the US, and secondary coverage in the US. This benefit covers up to $100,000 towards the cost of repairs or the cash value of the car, whichever is less. This also only covers rentals of up to 31 consecutive days.
For those not familiar with primary vs. secondary:
- Primary insurance means that you can file your claim directly through the card’s policy, regardless of other insurance policies you have on the car
- Secondary insurance means that you can only file your claim directly with the card’s policy after you’ve filed it with any collectible auto insurance policy you have; so this only covers things not covered by the primary insurance, like the deductible or any excess amount
So this is a very competitive policy outside the US, while within the US I’d use another card assuming you have car rental insurance, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (that way you wouldn’t have to go through your personal insurance policy, which could raise premiums).
Different cards have different strong points when it comes to travel delay & cancellation protection. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is great in that it offers protection even on award tickets, as well as primary car rental coverage.
Other than that, I think the Citi Prestige® Card offers among the best protection out there. The baggage and travel delay protection kicks in after just three hours, which is among the most generous policies out there. The amounts they offer are also quite generous.
So while I think it makes sense to put most award ticket purchases on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Citi Prestige® Card remains my “go to” card for airfare for the perks it offers on paid tickets.
Were you aware of all the travel protection offered by the Citi Prestige® Card? Do travel protection benefits factor into which cards you use?