Ultimate Guide to Credit Card Trip Delay Insurance

Has your flight ever been severely delayed, or have you ever missed your connecting flight requiring an overnight stay?

Your credit card may offer free trip delay insurance up to $500 per person for reasonable expenses such as hotels, food, transportation, and personal items.

This allows you to avoid pay for these expenses out of pocket or staying at a budget hotel provided by the airline.

Why is Trip Delay Insurance Important?

Airlines do not offer compensation due to delays attributable to weather or anything outside of the airline’s control.

It could be perfect weather where you are located, but if your incoming plane or crew is delayed due to weather, the airline can avoid paying out any compensation. 

I saved thousands using trip delay insurance when my flight was delayed by weather, air traffic control, security, or when the aircraft crew “timed out” (exceeded the maximum work hours) due to previous delays.

It is a great feeling to book a free luxury hotel and dinner reservations when everyone around you is freaking out about the delay.

Sleeping in airport

Requirements for Trip Delay Insurance

There are several requirements you should know to qualify for trip delay insurance.

Must Use Eligible Card for Purchase

To get trip delay coverage, you must purchase your flight or pay the taxes and fees of an award flight using an eligible card.

Merely holding a card with trip delay insurance does not qualify you for coverage.

You should choose your credit card wisely when paying for a flight. Some cards offer more points but no trip delay insurance. But I have found it is always best to use a card with trip delay insurance, even if I earn fewer points.

I made the mistake of using the JetBlue Plus credit card, which offers 6x points on JetBlue but no trip delay insurance, instead of my Chase Sapphire Preferred.

My flight was inevitably delayed due to weather, and JetBlue couldn’t fly me out for several days. I could have lived like a king if I booked it with my Chase Sapphire Preferred, but instead, I lived like a pauper because I booked with the wrong card.

Exception: The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve does not cover award travel, except when redeeming their points. 

Delay Outside Your Control

The trip delay must be for a covered reason, which generally covers anything outside of your control, including bad weather, mechanical issues, and labor strikes.

However, there is no protection if the delay is within your control, including voluntarily taking a later flight, arriving late to the airport, or missing your connection because you were relaxing in an airport lounge.

Must Be Specific Number of Hours

A delay of a few hours will not entitle you to trip delay insurance. 

Your flight needs to be delayed for at least 6 hours for high-end cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express Platinum.

Or at least 12 hours with more affordable cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase United Explorer, or American Express Gold.

The exception to this rule is that Chase allows an overnight stay to override the hour requirement. For example, you would receive trip delay coverage if your 11 PM flight was rescheduled to 6 AM, even if your card only offered 12-hour trip delay insurance.

Only Certain People are Covered

Credit card trip delay insurance may not cover everyone in your travel party.

Chase covers (1) the cardholder, (2) your spouse or domestic partner, (3) dependent children under twenty-two years old, and (4) authorized users (with their name on the card). 

Chase does not cover non-family travel companions or a boyfriend/girlfriend traveling with you unless they are authorized users of the card.

American Express covers more people, including (1) the cardholder, (2) spouse or domestic partner, (3) dependent children up to 19 (or 26 if attending college), and (4) travel companions traveling together with you.

Likely No Coverage in Home City

Delays in your home city are likely not covered by trip delay insurance because your trip hasn’t officially started until you have left your home city.

However, there are reports of people receiving trip delay coverage when the starting airport is in a different city than your city of residence but expect pushback from the claims administrator. 

For example, I lived in New Haven, Connecticut, and would drive two hours to New York City (LGA or JFK) for a direct flight. Trip delay insurance would likely apply in that situation because New York City was not my city of residence.

But now that I live in Chicago, a delay at a Chicago airport would not entitle me to trip delay coverage.

Must be on a "Common Carrier"

Travel must be on a “common carrier” for coverage. This includes travel on commercial airlines, trains, cruises, and buses.

It does not include travel on local buses and trains, taxis, private jets, or rental vehicles.

Trip Must be Less than 365 Days

Trip delay insurance requires travel of 365 days or less to a destination that is not your city of residence.

This is an easy requirement for 99% of people. Just show a flight back to your city of residence within 365 days of the trip that got delayed.

This would only be an issue if you lived away from your home for more than a year or you booked a one-way flight somewhere with no idea of when you will return. In that situation, book a return flight home before you submit a claim.

What is Covered?

Trip delay insurance reimburses you for “reasonable expenses,” including food, transportation, hotels, and necessary personal items.

On one trip with my wife, Chase reimbursed a $330 hotel at the Park Hyatt, $80 sushi food delivery for dinner, $40 breakfast, and $70 for two Ubers (to/from the airport).

Trip Delay Reimbursement

But try to be reasonable with your expenses. A good test is whether a client would reimburse your expenses if you were on a work trip as a consultant or an attorney?

A client would pay for a nice business hotel like the Westin, Intercontinental, Embassy Suites, or a reasonably priced luxury hotel. But a client would not pay for a $600+ per night at the Waldorf Astoria or a high-end resort.

Likewise, a client would reimburse you for up to about $125 per day per person in food, but they wouldn’t pay for a $200 per person meal at a Michelin Star restaurant.

Coverage is Secondary

Remember that trip delay coverage is secondary to any compensation or hotel or food vouchers covered by the airline.

If the airline provides you a hotel room for the night, you can’t book a room at a different hotel and request reimbursement from your trip delay insurance.

This is why I don’t ask for vouchers or a hotel room from the airline. They will often put you up at a budget hotel like the Holiday Inn near the airport.

Whereas with trip delay insurance, you could book a nice hotel downtown and explore a city during a delay.

How to File a Claim

The process of filing a claim is similar for every credit card. 

Chase, U.S. Bank, and Bank of America use the same third-party claims administrator, Card Benefit Services, which allows you to submit online claims.

For American Express, you will have to call 1-844-933-0648.

For all cards, you will need to gather the documents below to file your claim.

Required Documents

Travel Itinerary– You will need to submit the original and updated travel itinerary that indicates your trip was delayed.

Credit Card Statement– You will need to submit a credit card statement showing at least the last four digits reflecting that you used a card with trip delay insurance to pay for your ticket or award flight. If the flight was entirely paid with points (like Chase Ultimate Rewards), you will need to show proof that points were used for that flight.

Trip Delay Statement– The hardest documentation to get is a trip delay statement from the common carrier stating the reason for the delay. I prefer to get one while I am still at the airport, but you can get one later by contacting the common carrier.

If you are at the airport, tell the customer service agent “My flight was delayed (or rebooked) and I am looking to get a trip delay statement for my credit card’s trip delay insurance. Can you help me with that?” 

Copies of Itemized Receipts– You will need to provide copies of itemized receipts for everything, so try to take pictures of all receipts as backups.

Signed Claim Form– You will need to complete and sign a claim form, which will usually be provided by the benefits administrator when you file the claim.

Chase Trip Delay Insurance

Chase credit cards are my top recommendation when it comes to trip delay insurance for several reasons.

First, if your delay requires an overnight stay, Chase’s trip delay coverage will apply even if your card delay is less than 12 hours.

Second, there is no limit on the number of claims each year, unlike American Express, which limits you to two claims.

Third, Chase’s coverage covers award tickets.

Fourth, Chase has several very affordable credit cards that offer trip delay insurance, such as the Sapphire Preferred or United Explorer.

Lastly, if you are traveling as a family, you are entitled to $500 per ticket, so a family of four could get coverage up to $2,000 per delayed trip. (Or even more for larger families.)

Card Coverage Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card Sapphire Reserve 6 hours / $500 $550
Chase Sapphire Preferred Updated Sapphire Preferred 12 hours/ $500 $95
Chase Ink Preferred credit card Ink Preferred 12 hours/ $500 $95
World of Hyatt credit card World of Hyatt 12 hours/ $500 $95
United Club Visa Infinite United Club 12 hours / $500 $525
United Club Business United Club Business 12 hours / $500 $450
Chase United Quest Card United Quest 12 hours/ $500 $250
Chase United Explorer Credit Card United Explorer 12 hours/ $500 $95
Chase United Business Credit Card United Business 12 hours/ $500 $99
Chase Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card Marriot Bonvoy Boundless 12 hours/ $500 $95
Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold Marriott Bonvoy Bold 12 hours/ $500 $0

How to File a Chase Trip Delay Claim?

You can file a claim online or by calling 1-888-675-1461 (or 1-804-281-5772 outside the U.S.) within 60 days.

American Express Trip Delay Insurance

American Express introduced trip delay insurance on several cards in 2020.

The disadvantage of trip delay insurance with American Express is they limit you to $500 per covered trip and only 2 claims per eligible card per 12-month period. 

Amex Cards with Trip Delay Insurance

Below are the American Express credit cards with trip delay insurance.

Card Coverage Annual Fee
American Express Platinum Card The Platinum Card $500 / 6 Hours $695
American Express Business Platinum Card Business Platinum $500 / 6 Hours $595
American Express Gold Card Gold Card $300 / 12 Hours $250
American Express Gold Business Credit Card Art Business Gold $300 / 12 Hours $295
American Express Green Green $300 / 12 Hours $150
Delta SkyMiles Amex Reserve Delta Reserve $500 / 6 Hours $550
Delta Reserve Business Amex Delta Reserve Business $500 / 6 Hours $550
Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex Platinum Delta $300 / 12 Hours $250
Delta Platinum Business American Express Platinum Delta Business $300 / 12 Hours $250
American-Express-Hilton-Honors-Aspire-Credit-Card Hilton Aspire $500/ 6 Hours $450
American Express marriott bonvoy brilliant credit card Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant $500 / 6 Hours $450
American Express Platinum Morgan Stanley Card Morgan Stanley Platinum $500 / 6 Hours $695
American Express Schwab Platinum Card Schwab Platinum $500 / 6 Hours $695

How to File a Claim for Amex Trip Delay Insurance?

To file a claim, you must call 1-844-933-0648 within 60 days of the delay.

U.S. Bank Trip Delay Insurance

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve offers 6-hour or overnight trip delay insurance for up to $500 per ticket.

However, there is no coverage for trips using airline miles because the full amount of the ticket must be charged for the card. The only exception is if you redeem Altitude Reserve points at 1.5 cents per point to cover the entire amount of the trip.

Who is Covered by the Altitude Reserve?

The cardholder, your spouse, and dependent children under twenty-two (22) years of age are covered by U.S. Bank’s trip delay insurance.

How to File a Claim?

You can file a claim online or by calling 1-800-546-9806 within 30 days of the date of the trip delay.

US Bank Altitude Reserve

Bank of America Trip Delay Insurance

Bank of America has one card, the Premium Rewards card, that offers 12-hour trip delay insurance up to $500 per ticket for eligible family members.

Bank of America Premium Rewards Card
The Verdict

You should always book a flight with a credit card that offers trip delay insurance to protect your trip and avoid paying hundreds of dollars in out of pocket for a hotel and other expenses.