Trip delay insurance is an extremely valuable perk if your flight ever experiences a significant delay. Generally, your credit card will cover up to $500 per day per covered traveler for reasonable expenses such as a hotel or food if your delayed more than a certain number of hours (6 or 12) or require an overnight stay. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a 12-hour policy, but if your flight scheduled for 10:30 p.m. is delayed until 8 a.m., you can get reimbursement for a hotel since it is an “overnight stay.”
Delays can happen with any airline, so it is important to be protected. There could be long delays for weather, an IT glitch, flight crews “timing out” after an earlier delay (maximum time a crew can work in a day), or missing a connecting flight. For example, a thunderstorm in Atlanta caused Delta to cancel 3,500 flights or 75,000 British Airways’ passengers were stranded when one technician at the airline’s newly outsourced I.T. department accidentally disconnected the power and severely damaged the servers when he tried to do an uncontrolled restart of the system.
Credit Cards With Trip Delay Insurance
You do need to purchase the flight using one of the credit cards below to enjoy trip delay insurance.
Issuer Credit Card Delay Required Coverage Includes Award Tickets US Bank Altitude Reserve 6 Hours or overnight stay $500 per ticket No Chase United Club 12 Hours or overnight stay $500 Yes Chase Sapphire Preferred 12 Hours or overnight stay $500 Yes Chase Marriott Premier Plus/Business 12 Hours or overnight stay $500 Yes Chase Hyatt 12 Hours $500 Yes Chase United Explorer (Personal and Business) 12 Hours or overnight stay $500 Yes Chase Ink Preferred (Business) 12 Hours or overnight stay $500 Yes Chase Ritz Carlton 12 Hours or overnight stay $500 Yes Chase Sapphire Reserve 6 Hours or overnight stay $500 Yes Bank of America Merrill+ Visa 12 Hours $100 per day up to $500 Bank of America Premium Rewards 12 hours $500
Citi previously offered trip delay insurance on several of their cards, but that benefit is going away on September 22, 2019.
Extra Points vs. Delay Insurance
American Express Platinum card offers you the most points for booking flights (5x), but does not offer free trip delay insurance, so you have to do a cost-benefit analysis to see if the risk is worth the extra points.
My recommendation would be to opt for the trip delay insurance over the Platinum’s 5x points in the following situations:
- Flying an ultra-low-cost-carrier (Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant, Norweigan, WOW, etc.)
- Flying on a regularly delayed airline such as JetBlue
- Flying in the winter, especially through airports such as Chicago, New York, Boston, Minneapolis, Denver, Detroit, or Salt Lake City. Your plane could also be coming in from one of those cities, so that could still have an effect on your travel, so I always use a trip delay insurance card for flights during November to March.
- Your flight departs after 6 p.m. (I say 6 p.m., since delays from earlier flights can compound and affect your flight. If there was a significant delay earlier, crews are more likely to time out if your flight was the last one of the day. Plus you are more likely to need a hotel room for a delayed 6 p.m. flight rather than a noon flight)
Travel to, from, or within European Union
You can get significant compensation for a delay (our full guide), but in the United States and most other countries, airlines only have to offer minimal compensation or a cheap hotel room. That is why I always try to book a flight with at least 6-hour trip delay insurance just in case something bad happens.
Trip Delay Insurance Coverage
Each card has different language, but generally “You are covered for reasonable additional expenses, including but not limited to meals, lodging, toiletries, medication and other personal use items that you encounter due to a Covered Hazard delay, as long as the services were not provided free of charge by the Common Carrier or any other party.” (Chase Sapphire Preferred).
You also need to (1) pay for at least part of the ticket using the card; (2) the delay be longer than a set amount of time or require an overnight stay; and (3) the delay was not your fault (e.g. overslept for a flight).
Take pictures and keep a copy of all of your boarding passes, receipts, or any other document that the airline gives you. You will need to get a trip delay statement (or “military excuse”) from the airline. For the U.S. airlines, you can either do it at the airport or visit our specific airline pages for ways to get the statement online. You will also need a copy of credit card statement, itinerary, and proof of “round-trip” airfare. The flight doesn’t have to be booked as a round-trip, but you have to prove you are returning to your home city within 365 days. (e.g., if you are an American studying abroad in Europe and book Berlin to Rome, show them your flight from the U.S. to Europe and flight home. If you haven’t booked your flight home yet, just book it before you file a claim)
Read the Fine Print
To make sure you are covered, Google your card’s name and + benefits to see the fine print for your card. Each card may have slightly different terms, so it best to read it closely before you buy a $250 a night hotel. The big
Decline the Hotel and Meal Vouchers
Trip Delay insurance is secondary, so if you accept a hotel or meal voucher, you can’t book an additional hotel and have the card issuer reimburse you. So decline the airline’s free hotel and ask for points instead. Plus the hotel that the airline puts you in will not be the nicest and you can avoid waiting hours in line for a voucher.
Alcohol and Gratuities
These are normally not reimbursed, but you could buy lounge access to a lounge that offers free alcohol.
People have been successful booking $450 a night hotels and getting reimbursed. I would still try sticking to under $300, unless there are no decent hotels in your area. When there are delays that affect the entire airport, you could easily see below average hotels jump to $300+ a night, which is when you could make a case that a $450 a night hotel is a “reasonable” expense.
Filing a Claim
If you are delayed, here are the general requirements to file a claim: (1) a claim form (call and ask for one), (2) receipt of your original travel purchase, (3) copy of your itinerary, (4) itemized receipts for your expenses, and (5) proof of the delay (written statement from airline, visit our Airline pages for more information). You should expect to spend at least 15 minutes filling out all the reimbursement forms.
Below is what Chase (Eclaimsline) requires for reimbursement:
Trip Delay Verification
This is an example of a Delay Verification form that I requested from United. Be sure that it either says that you stayed overnight or that the delay time is accurate. Some airlines are hesitant to fill out this form until you explain to them that you are not seeking to collect anything from the airline, but instead are using your credit card’s trip delay insurance.
Card Issuer-Specific Language
Important Chase Details: (full fine print below)
- Only expenses away from your home city are covered.
- Spouse, dependent children under 22, and authorized users are covered even if you’re not traveling and use the Reserve card to book travel.
- Filing a Claim: Visit eclaimsline.com, upload all of your documents and fill out all of the information.
Below is the Sapphire Reserve Fine Print. Other Chase cards have the same language but substitute the applicable time period.
What is Trip Delay Reimbursement?
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 six (6) 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.
A Covered Trip is a period of round-trip travel (meaning departing from and eventually returning to your primary residence) that doesn’t exceed three hundred and sixty- five (365) days away from your residence to a destination other than your city of residence.
A Covered Hazard includes equipment failure, inclement weather, labor strikes, and hijacking or skyjacking.
A Common Carrier is any land, water, or air conveyance that operates under a valid license to transport passengers for hire and requires purchasing a ticket before travel begins. It does not include taxis, limousine services, commuter rail or bus lines, or rental vehicles.
Who is eligible for coverage?
You, a person to whom a United States (U.S.) credit card has been issued (“Cardholder”), your spouse, and your dependent children under twenty-two (22) years of age are automatically covered when a portion or the entire cost of the Common Carrier fare, is purchased with your Chase credit card account (“Account”).
What is covered?
You are covered for reasonable additional expenses, including but not limited to meals, lodging, toiletries, medication and other personal use items that you encounter due to a Covered Hazard delay, as long as the services were not provided free of charge by the Common Carrier or any other party.
What is not covered?
You are not covered for any Covered Hazard delay that was made public or known to you prior to the departure for the Covered Trip. Also, prepaid expenses are not covered.
How do I file a claim? You need to call the Benefit Administrator within sixty (60) days following the date of the delay. The Benefit Administrator will ask you for some preliminary claim information and send you a claim form. The completed claim form and requested documentation must be returned within one hundred (100) days of the date of the trip delay to the Benefit Administrator: Card Benefit Services P.O. Box 72034 Richmond, VA 23255 Failure to do so could result in the denial of your claim.
What documents do I need to submit with my claim?
- Your completed and signed claim form
- Your Account receipt showing that the travel fare was charged to your eligible card. If more than one method of payment was used, include documentation that shows a portion of the purchase was made with your Account.
- A copy of the Common Carrier ticket
- A statement from the Common Carrier indicating the reasons that the Covered Trip was delayed
- Copies of receipts for the claimed expenses
- Any other documentation deemed necessary, in the Benefit Administrator’s sole discretion, to substantiate the claim
Below are the relevant portions of the Trip Delay Reimbursement for US Bank Altitude Reserve.
Delay Time: 6+ hours or overnight stay
Coverage: You, your spouse and dependent children under 22 years old.
Flight Purchase: Must purchase “entire fare” with Visa Infinite card and/or US bank rewards points. (Therefore, paying taxes and fees for an award tickets doesn’t give you protection)
Other Fine Print: Must be away from home city. Trip must not exceed 365 days.
Filing Claim: www.eclaimsline.com or 1-800-546-9806