What is Trip Delay Coverage, And Does My Card Have It?

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Whether you’re a weekly flyer or a first-time traveler, delays can happen to anyone. From weather to mechanicals to strikes (oh my!) there are plenty of reasons why your best-laid plans may go awry, and I’ve certainly been no stranger to these delays as of late.

While airlines may offer compensation, particularly if the delay is not weather-related, meal vouchers are often paltry, and the comped hotels may not be the easiest to get to. Furthermore, if you’re stranded in the U.S. and your delay is weather-related, you may not get anything from the airline.

Luckily, there are a number of credit cards out there that are set up to cover you for precisely these types of situations.

Trip Delay Coverage: What you need to know

Most reimbursement policies offer to reimburse you for up to $500 per person, as long as the delay is greater than a certain amount of time (typically 12 hours, although some cards are more generous).

Here is a sample definition of the coverage, taken from my most recent guide to benefits on my Chase Ink Business Plus card (I received it two days ago, so I’m feeling pretty good that it’s up-to-date):

Trip Delay Reimbursement covers up to a maximum of five hundred ($500.00) dollars for each purchased ticket for reasonable expenses, on a one-time-basis, incurred if your Covered Trip is delayed by a Covered Hazard for more than twelve (12) hours or requires an overnight stay. To be eligible for this coverage, you need to purchase either a portion or the entire cost of your Common Carrier fare using your Account. Coverage is in excess of any expenses paid by any other party, including applicable insurance.

Say what?

Here is what this means, in layman’s terms:

  • “Reasonable expenses” are covered, and typically include things like “meals, lodging, toiletries, medication and other personal use items.”
  • “One-time-basis” means that you can only use this perk once per trip.
  • “Covered Trip” means that you have paid for all or a part of this trip with the card in question (more on that in a bit). The trip has to be under 365 days in length, and has to originate and eventually return to your primary residence.
  • “Covered Hazard” refers to the cause of the delay, which in this case, may include “equipment failure, inclement weather, labor strikes, and hijacking or skyjacking.”
  • “Common Carrier” refers to the form of public transportation that you are using, and may include “land, water, or air conveyance that operates under a valid license to transport passengers for hire and requires purchasing a ticket before travel begins.” So this means that you could conceivably be eligible for reimbursement if, say, your cruise ship is delayed getting back to port, or if there is an Amtrak closure.
  • “Coverage is in excess of any expenses paid…” means that, if you purchase other trip insurance or receive reimbursement from the airline, you need to go through these services first. If you have additional expenses that are not covered by other means, then Chase will pick up the tab, up to $500.

What else do you need to do?

First and foremost, make sure that you save all of your receipts for expenses incurred. (If you need some tips on the best ways to store receipts electronically, you can check out this post and the follow-up comments for some different tools that are out there.)

You’ll also need to file the claim within the required time frame – most cards require 60 days, although I imagine that you’ll probably want to be reimbursed as soon as possible.

It’s likely that the third-party insurance provider will ask you to provide some sort of proof of the delay at hand, which may require contacting the airline or other mode of transportation. Asking the gate or ticket agent for a “Military Excuse” when you’re at the airport is the easiest way to secure this documentation ahead of time. You’ll also need to provide proof that the ticket in question was purchased with your card.

This list isn’t exhaustive, so make sure that you check your most recent guide to benefits to verify what you need – and what’s covered.

So, does your card offer this perk?

Tiffany did a great comprehensive roundup a few years ago, but as we know very well here, terms and conditions for various card benefits change all the time. Card issuers don’t necessarily broadcast their Guide to Benefits publicly, but here is our best roundup of some of our favorite cards – and the coverage that they offer:

CardBenefit active after:Reimbursed expenses:Annual Fee
Citi Prestige Card3 hours (changing to 6 hours as of 7/29/18)$500$450
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®3 hours (changing to 6 hours as of 7/29/18)$500$450
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®12 hours$500$99 (waived the first year)
Citi ThankYou® Premier12 hours $500$95 (waived the first year)
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card6 hours, or overnight stay required$500$450
Chase Sapphire Reserve®6 hours, or overnight stay required$500$450
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card12 hours, or overnight stay required$500$95 (waived the first year)
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card12 hours, or overnight stay required$500$95
United℠ Explorer Card12 hours, or overnight stay required$500$95 (waived the first year)
United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card12 hours, or overnight stay required$500$95 (waived the first year)
United MileagePlus Club Card12 hours, or overnight stay required$500$450
World of Hyatt Credit Card12 hours, or overnight stay required$500$95
Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card12 hours, or overnight stay required$500$95
Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card12 hours, or overnight stay required$500$99 (waived the first year)

As you may have noticed here, American Express cards are notably absent from this list. While American Express does offer various forms of travel insurance for purchase, trip delay insurance is not included in their current list of offerings.

You may also have noticed that when it comes to the Citi Prestige and Citi AAdvantage Executive Mastercard, things get weird. While trip delay coverage has historically kicked in after a generous three-hour delay, this will shift to six hours as of July 29th, 2018.

Again, when in doubt, check your card’s specific benefits.

Some other questions that you may have

Like all things involving insurance, nothing is ever simple, and each claim will involve its own particular set of circumstances. Hopefully these questions can address at least some of the issues that you may run into:

Is the coverage just for me, or does it apply to travel companions? 

Generally, the coverage is for you and for immediate family members traveling with you, and is good for $500 per ticketed passenger, based on the most recent Guides to Benefits that I’ve seen. Citi actually specifies that the coverage extends to immediate family members for whom you’ve purchased tickets, even if you’re not traveling.

Chase makes no such promises.

Does this work for award travel? 

Yes(ish). Citi specifies that all or a portion of the ticket must be booked using the Citi card and/or its related mileage currency (like ThankYou points).

Chase requires that all or part of the travel be paid “using your Account,” so you should be able to get away with booking an award through the specified portal (Ultimate Rewards, MileagePlus, etc.) and covering the taxes and fees with your card in question.

Okay, I get that my original ticket needs to be on the card in question – what about my hotel room during my overnight delay? 

While I haven’t had experience with this in practice (yet), I haven’t seen any terms that specify that reimbursable expenses need to be placed on the original card. I would still do so to be on the safe side though, and to hopefully streamline the claims process.

Do I need to clear this with my credit card in advance? 

No – as long as you file your claim within the required time frame (again, typically 60 days) and save all of your receipts, you should be okay.

Does this cover delays where I am at fault?

Generally, no, you won’t be eligible for reimbursement if you sleep through an alarm clock or have too much fun the night before. However, if you’re using a Citi card, you may be eligible if, say, you lose your passport, as their Guide to Benefits specifies that you are covered if “The Covered Traveler’s passport, money or other travel documents are lost or stolen.”

Chase doesn’t have this coverage, so in this case, Citi wins out.

But don’t lose your passport.

What if I accept a voucher from the airline in exchange for taking a later flight? 

If you’re choosing to accept compensation, then you’re out of luck on this front.

How about if the airline offers meal vouchers and lodging during a delay? 

Technically speaking, the coverage is secondary, which means that you will be covered in excess of whatever is already reimbursed. The insurance provider will require you to submit proof of whatever other reimbursement you received.

What if I have travel insurance already?

You’ll want to go through them first, but again, you’ll be covered if you incur any expenses in excess of what’s already being reimbursed.

I’m really mad that I’m delayed – can I just drink my sorrows away? 

Technically, Chase doesn’t require itemized meal receipts for bills under $50 (Citi doesn’t specify). That said, you probably don’t want to submit five dinner receipts for a one-night delay.

So, how do I go about filing a claim? 

If you’re filing with Chase, the easiest thing to do is to go to the Card Benefit Services website, or call 1-866-390-9735 to get the ball rolling. As you may recall from my rental car saga, the website itself is fairly straightforward.

You’ll need your credit card number and a bunch of supporting paperwork to get the claim finalized, but you don’t necessarily need every piece of paperwork in hand to get the claim started. 

If you’re filing with Citi, you can call 1-866-506-5222, or download a claim form via the Citi card website.

You’ve said “check your terms and conditions” about a million times. How do I do that? 

So, to a certain extent, this is easier said than done – card issuers change their benefits all the time, and while there are plenty of versions circulating out there on the internet, many of them are dated at this point.

Viewing your most updated Guide to Benefits through Citi is easy – simply visit cardbenefits.citi.com and log into your account.

Things with Chase are a little bit trickier, since you can’t access your benefits guide via your online account. If you didn’t save your original copy when you received your credit card, the best thing to do is probably to start by calling the number on the back of your card, and request an updated copy of your benefit guide – which will need to be sent by the issuing bank (so I’m told).

There is one workaround that I know of – if you received any messages from Chase through their secure message center on an updated Guide to Benefits, you should be able to access it via a hyperlink directly in that message. This could potentially save you the headache of transferring to different phone reps.

If there is a better way, by all means, please share.

And just for good measure, American Express publishes its most recent benefit guides in one central location on the website – something that I wish Chase and Citi would do. You won’t find anything on trip delay coverage, but you will find their policies on travel accident insurance, rental car insurance, and baggage insurance.

Bottom line

None of us want to invoke this type of insurance, but even the most elite of travelers can’t control the weather, mechanicals, or other issues that may cause delays. Hopefully by using the right card, you’ll be able to maximize the benefit – and take out some of the sting – next time you find yourself getting delayed.

Actually, I hope that this is a benefit that you never have to use. 🙂

Has anyone out there had recent experience with trip delay coverage? How did the claim process turn out? 

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Comments

  1. Important note

    Chase Saphire insurance will NOT cover the purchase if another flight

    I had a 12 hour delay PVR to MSP in February (Sun Country)
    I thought they were going to just cancel the flight and I had to get back

    So I bought last second ticket on Delta for $500 or so
    Was reimbursed $200 by Sun Country

    Submitted $300 claim to Chase (actually the insurer Chase uses)

    It was denied

    Kind of silly because $300 is less than I would have submitted had I got a hotel and food

  2. The Citi Expedia Voyager card has trip delay coverage as well. From the benefits page:

    “From meals to hotel rooms, you may be covered for expenses you incur because of the delay. When you pay for a trip on a common carrier with your Citi card and you’re delayed at least 12 hours, you may be reimbursed up to $500 per covered traveler, per trip for reasonable and necessary expenses.”

  3. Will the coverage on the Citi ThankYou Premier card be better then on the Prestige after 7/29 (4 vs 6 hours)?

  4. What if I purchase a one-way airline ticket with a return train ticket? Would that count as a return trip eligible for trip-delay protection?

  5. What about a typical scenario where you have bought a flight US – Europe on award, one-way. Then have a bunch of flights within Europe, each booked seperately on RyanAir/EasyJet, and then have a completely different ticket coming back to the US, maybe as part of a cheap EU-US-EU business class fare?

    That’s several different tickets bought across different airlines, maybe with different credit cards (to help with minimum spend), some on points some with cash.

    What happens if the outbound flight delays? If one of the intra-europe ryanair flight delays? If the return flight delays 3 days due to AirFrance strike?

    At some point the whole thing becomes so complicated, that its just not even worth the hassle trying to figure out reimbursements, and just get on whatever the airline puts you on.

  6. I made a claim with the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite card, when I had a forced overnight in Dallas, but got quite a runaround and gave up. They required me to demand reimbursement by AA, and to provide documentation of a denial. I could never get AA to give me a clear denial in writing. Ended up giving up (and cancelling the card as a result).

  7. We are in the process of filing a Chase Sapphire Reserve claim for an overnight delay. They have committed to covering a one way car rental (but not the gas), the hotel, and food during the delay for me, my wife, and my 16 year old. We will see how it goes, but so far, so good.

  8. Wait–I thought with Chase preferred and reserved you just needed to pay part with your chase card-is this information about using their portal new? Does this apply to other benefits of the Chase cards? I previously called them prior to booking a cruise and asked them about travel coverage and they did not mention anything about needing to book through their portal, and they told me it covered award flights as long as I paid some charges on the card.

  9. Be aware that even though Chase states that itemised receipts are not required for amounts under $50, they may deny claims for not providing the itemised receipts.

    I had a claim for $8.28 denied for a 7 hour delay on Kenya Airways because I only had the credit card sales slip (paid with my CSR card) from the snack kiosk rather than an itemised receipt for a sandwich and bottle of water.

    We went back and forth for almost 3 months on the issue (me stating that the T&Cs say that no itemised receipt is needed and them advising me to contact the vendor to obtain an itemised receipt if I don’t already have one) before I eventually gave up.

  10. Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi, Citi Double Cash, and probably other Citi cards have a very limited form of coverage according to brochures. Their coverage is a 24 hour delay due to weather, which is very rare except for severe winter storms.

    AA (Citi) and UA (Chase) have better coverage, as described in the article, but if one just wants the sign up bonus and already did the required spend, then the dilemma is whether to get coverage and a lower mileage credit from using the card or forfeit such coverage and get higher cash back from other cards. My feeling is to get higher cash back from other cards (Citi Dividend with a 5% cash back for 3Q 2018 or Costco 3% all the time) except for non 3Q2018 AA travel (use AA/Citi card) or UA travel (use UA/Chase card)

  11. A few things to add:

    The recent consensus on Flyertalk is that the Citi coverage is worthless for connecting flight delays. If you have a 2 hour connection, and your incoming flight is delayed 2.5 hours causing you to overnight and get to your destination 12 hours late, Citi will say that is only a 2.5 hour delay that does not trigger coverage. As far as I know, Chase does not do this type of thing.

    Credit card companies send you a paper guide to benefits when your card first arrives. You should keep that for cards you might actually make claims on.

    Re: Award travel, I think Chase’s “using your account” refers to your credit card account and has nothing to do with what mileage currency or portal you use. I made a claim on a trip booked with AA miles once and taxes paid with Chase card. No problem.

    You talk about keeping receipts less than $50, but I’ve never seen anything that says alcohol is not considered part of a meal. It’s not like this is a government expense report. Anyone have a different experience getting alcohol reimbursed?

  12. You also missed the Bank of America Premium Rewards card which provides $500 of expenses per ticket if your flight is delayed for more than 12 hours.

  13. Hello and happy fourth, for those from the U.S.! In order, from the top:

    @JRMW – Sorry that you had to deal with that, and agreed that it’s ridiculous; thanks for sharing.

  14. @Danny – whoops! My bad! It’s supposed to read 12 hours, not 4 (I was updating an old table and must have missed that field.) Fixed.

  15. @EZB and @B – I’m going through something similar (though perhaps not as complicated) right now – outbound on Delta, return on United. Return got canceled and I had to submit a claim. I’m still working through the process but haven’t caught any flack (yet) for having two separate one-way itineraries.

    I’ll detail out my experience on here once the claim is finalized, but I imagine you would be okay provided you’re not submitting multiple claims on the same card on the same trip.

  16. @AI – You would have to go out of your way to make your purchase in question on two separate cards, since a portion of the purchase has to be on the card with which you are filing the claim.

    Also, insurance fraud is bad 😉

  17. @Jeff R – Wow, what a pain. Curious as to what the cause of the delay was, and whether that impacted their (obnoxious) requirement? I.e. weather vs. mechanical?

  18. @tina – I think you’re good, especially if you talked to someone previous (thanks @Tom for clarifying – their language is pretty nebulous so your firsthand information is appreciated).

    I always try to grab the rep’s name and date/time of call in those situations, though, just so that my bases are covered and nothing comes back to haunt me later.

  19. @Sean M – Wow – not sure whether to be giggling at the $8.28 or banging my head against the wall on your behalf.

  20. @derek – Agreed, always a dilemma, although most of the mid-upper range of Chase/Citi travel cards (airline co-brand and flexible points) offer a slew of travel insurance benefits beyond this one (cancellation insurance, baggage delay, rental car collision coverage, etc.)

  21. @Tom – Thanks for your adds. Re: alcohol – not sure what others’ experiences are, but I imagine that some adjusters might have a hard time filing it under “reasonable expenses.” And of course, there’s a huge difference between one glass of wine and five.

    You could always grab both un-itemized and itemized receipts, and file the un-itemized first, in case you end up in a situation like @Sean M.

  22. I recently filed a $250 claim with Chase Sapphire Reserve after being stuck in the Atlanta Airport overnight due to an airport power outage. After one month of back and forth with chase continually asking for more documentation they denied the claim. Multiple phone calls with multiple representatives did not help. The representatives sounded like uneducated attorneys by inaccurately referring to terms and conditions. Chase finally paid after I contacted them via Twitter. Happy ending but not fun.

  23. Hi Steph, thanks for posting this. I was actually thinking about getting Sapphire Preferred for a similar reason. In the fall, I am flying to Europe and then doing a river cruise. Have you done a post about trip cancellation insurance? My father is 88 and I just worry that I could have to cancel if something were to happen to him. The travel agent recommended buying third-party trip insurance, but if I can get it via a credit card, that would be great. I am particularly interested in the Sapphire Preferred, or Marriott Rewards Premier Plus. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  24. So you could technically eat out very nicely and stay at a very nice hotel if you were for say stuck in Vegas and have it all covered..

  25. Is there any card that covers buying a last minute walkup fare on another airline in lieu of a hotel night and meals

  26. Wow, this is a first – in this area, Canadian AmEx cards are actually better than US AmEx cards (normally Canadian cards suck in comparison), as the travel ones do have trip delay coverage. I’ve used it twice to cover hotels on overnight delays.

  27. @betsy Don’t use Chase for trip cancellation insurance. They will cover prepaid expenses you missed, like hotel and tours, but they won’t cover a flight for you to get back to the states, not even for their $450-fee sapphire reserve card. Citi is much better for this.

  28. Was a very frustrating experience going through the insurer Citi uses. Claim denied initially, rude phone agents who talk like uneducated attorneys. Had a weather delay of 2 hours cause me to miss a connection and require an overnight stay. agents tried to say the initial flight delay had go be 12 hours and that common carrier referred to the specific plane. I had to point out that if that were the case, then I would have had to pay four common carrier fares for a round trip flight involving a connection each way. Ultimately, I think they assume people will just give up after a few attempts. True scumbags.

  29. Well, here is one of the very few advantages Amex Platinum Canadian card holders have, is Flight delay insurance. It happened to me this past year due to snow storms. My hotel and meals were covered until I got on my re-scheduled flight – 1 day later. The claim process was easy and reimbursement didn’t take long.

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