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Several of the best travel credit cards tout their complimentary travel insurance benefits. These benefits can reimburse costs when your travel plans change or cancel. Here is a closer look at how credit card trip insurance works and if you should still buy a standalone travel insurance policy.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
How Credit Card Trip Insurance Works
Your non-refundable travel purchases can qualify for complimentary travel insurance from your credit card provider when you charge the entire reservation to the same card.
The coverage amounts and covered reasons vary by credit card.
There are also several different types of credit card insurance:
- Trip cancellation and interruption
- Trip delay
- Baggage delay
- Lost or damaged baggage
- Car rental collision damage waiver
- Roadside assistance
- Medical evacuation
Most credit cards offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance that can cover your non-refundable travel purchases.
Secondary car rental coverage is another standard benefit that Visa, Mastercard, and American Express provide.
You might need a premium card to get additional coverage benefits for your baggage and travel delays.
When Do Credit Card Travel Insurance Benefits Start?
In most cases, you will need to exhaust any practical alternative with the travel provider first.
The credit card trip protection benefits can activate when the travel provider will not offer an alternate travel plan or reimburse your original purchase.
You will need to file your claim with your credit card benefit provider within a specific number of days after learning about the trip cancellation or interruption.
You can receive reimbursement for covered reasons, including:
- Accidental injury, sickness, or death of the traveler or an immediate family member
- Physician-imposed quarantine
- Severe weather
- Primary cardmember or immediate family member’s house becomes uninhabitable
- Change in military orders
- Jury duty or court subpoena (that cannot be rescheduled)
- An organized strike affecting public transportation
- Terrorist action or hijacking
The qualifying reasons can vary by the credit card company. However, the above list is consistent for most trip cancellation and interruption coverage.
However, you won’t get full or partial reimbursement for these reasons:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Are intoxicated or under the influence at the time of an injury
- Injured in a high-risk activity
- Traveling against the advice of a physician
- The travel provider cancels the trip for reasons other than severe weather or an organized strike
- Travel provider goes out of business or becomes financially insolvent
- Personal change of mind or financial condition (i.e., buyer’s remorse or personal bankruptcy)
- Insured traveler breaks the law or becomes incarcerated
- Declared or undeclared wars
Additionally, there are several other reasons that can disqualify your claim as well.
Must File Claims With Other Insurance Providers First
Your credit card company will also require you to submit a claim with your other insurance providers first.
However, if you buy a standalone travel insurance policy, that means you will most likely request reimbursement from them first. It’s the same thing with filing a claim with your health insurance provider for medical care claims and your car insurance provider with secondary auto rental insurance.
Refer to your credit card benefits guide to review the claims process.
You will need to provide proper documentation to back your claim.
Some of the documents you may need to provide include:
- Original purchase receipt
- Credit card billing statement displaying the purchase
- Travel provider’s cancellation process
- Proof of loss (i.e., doctor’s note, military travel orders, severe weather statement)
Is Credit Card Trip Insurance Worth It?
Credit card trip insurance can be worth it for low-cost trips and falls within the card coverage limits. You don’t pay an additional fee other than the card’s annual fee.
Most domestic trips are trouble-free and don’t require filing a claim. If you must reschedule or cancel because of extenuating circumstances, the travel providers are likely to offer a travel credit or reschedule your trip.
With a separate travel insurance policy, you must purchase coverage for each trip. Some travel insurance providers offer annual plans that can be more cost-effective for frequent flyers.
Here are some of the best credit card travel insurance policies that can provide peace of mind and help you save a few dollars.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Chase Sapphire family probably has the best overall credit card trip insurance benefits. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card benefits are pretty impressive for a $95 annual fee card:
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip
- Trip delay reimbursement: Up to $500 per ticket
- Primary auto rental insurance: Up to the actual cash value of the vehicle
- Baggage delay insurance: Up to $100 a day for 5 days
This card has also been upgraded recently. You can learn all about it in our Chase Sapphire Preffered review.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers excellent travel benefits and more trip protection benefits too.
Travel insurance coverage amounts include:
- Trip cancellation and interruption: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip
- Trip delay reimbursement: Up to $500 per ticket
- Emergency evacuation and transportation: Up to $100,000
- Lost luggage reimbursement: Up to $3,000 per person
The Platinum Card from American Express
Some of the benefits include:
- Trip cancellation: Up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per 12-month period
- Trip delay: Up to $500 per trip
- Baggage insurance: Up to $2,000 for carryon and $3,000 for checked baggage (per person)
- Secondary auto rental coverage
The annual fee is $695 (See Rates & Fees) but can be offset with the perks, which are valued at over $1,400.
When to Purchase Travel Insurance Instead
Buying a separate travel insurance policy can be the better option for several reasons.
Need Higher Coverage Amounts
Some credit cards only offer barebones trip insurance benefits that may not cover your full ticket purchase or the entire trip cost for your travel party.
Standalone travel insurance may also provide more covered reasons like adventure sports.
It can be worth buying a policy when you’re traveling outside the United States. More countries are requiring visitors to purchase COVID-19 travel insurance to cover medical and quarantine-related expenses if they test positive or exhibit potential symptoms.
Travel insurance for foreign travels can also be worth it to get higher coverage amounts, overseas medical treatment, and emergency evacuation and transportation benefits.
Cancel for Any Reason
Credit card trip insurance and a standard travel insurance policy won’t let you request reimbursement for a change of mind or an unexpected personal financial downturn.
Purchasing a “cancel for any reason” rider lets you get full reimbursement. However, this benefit is expensive and costs up to 50% more than a regular policy.
You may also still need to cancel so many days or hours before your departure time to file a claim.
Want to Use a Different Credit Card
The credit card you want to use to book your trip may offer better purchase rewards and add-on travel benefits. However, it may have inferior trip insurance benefits.
Another reason to buy an external policy is your credit card has reduced their coverage benefits. Some credit card providers have recently reduced their coverage benefits to offer different rewards.
In this case, buying a separate policy can be better to enjoy the card benefits.
In conclusion, credit card trip insurance can be a valuable built-in benefit that can cover the most common reasons for delaying travel such as accidental injury, illness, and severe weather. However, purchasing coverage is still a better idea for expensive trips and also for international travel.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.