Home Comparing Benefits Trip Delay Protection: What, Why, When, and for Whom?

Trip Delay Protection: What, Why, When, and for Whom?

When charging travel or award travel taxes on premium credit cards, you, your family—and even friends—may be eligible for reimbursements incurred due to travel delays.

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Trip Delay Protection: What, Why, When, and for Whom?
Trip Delay Protection: What, Why, When, and for Whom?
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Travel delays happen often, and they’re never fun. But when a snowstorm strikes, a plane suffers mechanical failure, you miss a connecting flight due to a late segment, or your passport goes missing, your premium credit card may be able to soften the blow—well, the financial blow at least.

Thanks to implicit trip delay protection when charging common carrier travel (airline, bus, cruise ship, train) to your credit card, you won’t be responsible for certain expenses incurred due to covered reasons of delay. These expenses include lodging, ground transportation, meals, and necessities such as toiletries and medications. You’ll have to pay out of pocket at first, but you can then submit for reimbursement through your respective card.

Naturally, covered reasons for delay vary by credit card (though none would consider instances such as traffic valid), as does the coverage extension beyond the primary cardholder, the amount of time that defines “a delay,” and how much coverage is provided. However, in the most general sense, you no longer need to feel restricted to eating bad airport food with a measly meal voucher or having to stay at a mediocre hotel assigned by your airline or camp out on the airport floor. Yes, with the right card you and your family can Uber to a nice hotel (without having to share rooms), enjoy a great meal, and lessen the grief of travel delays.

Similar to our explorations into trip cancellation and trip interruption during cases of inclement weather as well as during cases of airline insolvency, we’ve combed over the fine print of various credit cards’ Guide to Benefits and called into the benefits centers to find out the trip delay coverage implicit with each core card featured on Credit Card Pro. Below, the short of our findings, in order from best to worst.

BEST Citi Prestige® Card

When you charge your trip’s entire common carrier fare to your Citi Prestige Card or use ThankYou® Points to book travel, you are automatically covered for Trip Delay Reimbursement. Pro Tip: Unlike all other credit cards, a Citi Prestige cardholder can purchase travel for his or her family member (as defined below) and does not need to be on the trip for the insurance to kick in.
What’s Considered a Delay: More than three hours.
Coverage Provided: Up to $500 per ticket.
Coverage Extension: Cardholder, cardholder’s family members, and traveling companion(s) traveling on cardholder’s or family members’ trip. Citi Prestige defines family members as: the cardholder’s children, spouse, fiancée, domestic partner, and their children (including adopted children or step-children); legal guardians or wards; siblings or siblings-in-law; sons-in-law or daughters-in-law; parents or parents-in-law; grandparents or grandchildren; aunts or uncles; nieces or nephews.
Reasons Covered: Equipment failure, inclement weather, labor strikes, hijacking or skyjacking, lost or stolen passports, money, or travel documents, natural disasters, and overbooking of flight.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

When you charge your trip’s entire common carrier fare to your Chase Sapphire Reserve Card or use Ultimate Rewards points to book travel, you are automatically covered for Trip Delay Reimbursement.
What’s Considered a Delay: More than six hours or requires an overnight stay.
Coverage Provided: Up to $500 per ticket.
Coverage Extension: Cardholder, cardholder’s spouse or domestic partner, and dependent children under age 22.
Reasons Covered: Equipment failure, inclement weather, labor strikes, and hijacking or skyjacking.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

When you charge your trip’s entire common carrier fare to your U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card or use the card’s reward points to book travel, you are automatically covered for Trip Delay Reimbursement.
What’s Considered a Delay: More than six hours or requires an overnight stay.
Coverage Provided: Up to $500 per ticket.
Coverage Extension: Cardholder, cardholder’s spouse or domestic partner, and dependent children under age 22.
Reasons Covered: Equipment failure, inclement weather, labor strikes, and hijacking or skyjacking.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

When you charge your trip’s entire common carrier fare to your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or use Ultimate Rewards points to book travel, you are automatically covered for Trip Delay Reimbursement. 
What’s Considered a Delay: More than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay.
Coverage Provided: Up to $500 per ticket.
Coverage Extension: Cardholder, cardholder’s spouse or domestic partner, and dependent children under age 22.
Reasons Covered: Equipment failure, inclement weather, labor strikes, and hijacking or skyjacking.

Luxury Cards: Mastercard® Black Card™, Mastercard® Gold Card™, Mastercard® Titanium Card™

When you charge your trip’s entire common carrier fare to your Luxury card or use the card for partial travel purchases (after coupons, vouchers, or discounts from frequent flier programs), you are automatically covered for Trip Delay Reimbursement.
What’s Considered a Delay: More than six hours.
Coverage Provided: Up to $300 per trip. Pro Tip: Note this is per trip and not per ticket.
Coverage Extension: Cardholder and any travel companions on the same itinerary.
Reasons Covered: Equipment failure, inclement weather, and lost or stolen passport or travel documents.

WORST American Express Platinum and Gold Cards

When you charge your trip’s entire common carrier fare to any American Express card or use Membership Rewards points to book travel, you are NOT automatically covered for Trip Delay Protection. Cardmembers who previously enrolled in American Express trip delay insurance can still access this protection for an additional $9.95 per person when purchasing airline tickets (but not when using Membership Rewards points).

New cardholders or existing cardholders who’ve never used this service cannot enroll. For those able and willing to opt-in, American Express’ trip delay coverage goes into effect after a delay of four hours, provides coverage up to $250 per person, and covers the cardholder, cardholder’s spouse or partner, and cardholder’s children under age 25 (for both primary and supplementary cardholders).

 

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Award-winning travel writer and economist Paul Rubio is a credit card enthusiast, whose sophisticated use of points and rewards has helped him travel to 132 countries for free. Paul is a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in economics. He also holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University with a double major in economics and environmental policy and a minor in conservation biology. He attended both undergraduate and graduate schools on full scholarships. Paul worked in the field of wildlife conservation before embracing his writing talents full-time in 2008. Since then, he has won more than two dozen national awards for his exemplary work in travel journalism. The prolific writer contributes to a number of top-tier international, national, and regional publications including Condé Nast Traveler, Florida Design, Fodors.com, Palm Beach Illustrated, and Robb Report.