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Enjoy your vacation, but make sure the credit card you use to book your travel is the responsible decision. Some of the best travel credit cards have built-in protection for trip delay and cancellation, and lost or delayed luggage. It can help if you have a sudden illness or injury, or if another unforeseen circumstance pops up at the last minute.
These perks can save you money when you book your trip, too because you won’t have to worry about paying extra for certain types of travel insurance. With these benefits, you can potentially be reimbursed for necessary expenses you incur when things go wrong, like food, lodging, clothing, toiletries, and medication.
Best for low annual fee
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Travel insurance benefits
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best entry level rewards credit card with travel insurance perks. The card comes with primary rental car insurance when you pay for the rental with your card or with Chase Ultimate Rewards points tied to your account and decline the rental company’s Collision Damage Waiver.
This card also includes trip delay coverage and if your flight is delayed by 12+ hours or requires an overnight stay you can be reimbursed up to $500 per ticket for you, your spouse or domestic partner, and any immediate family on your reservation. You can be reimbursed for additional expenses resulting from the delay, including lodging, ground transportation, food and incidentals.
Chase will also cut you a check if your bags are delayed 6+ hours. You, your spouse or domestic partner, and any immediate family on your reservation can claim up to $100 per day for five consecutive days without your bags and if the airline loses your bag, you’re reimbursed up to $3,000 per person.
MMS staffer Joseph had the unfortunate opportunity to use this benefit, too. Traveling for a conference, his bags were lost for over a month. Because he brought suits in his checked bag for the conference, Chase reimbursed him $500 to purchase a suit.
When you pay for your trip with your Sapphire Preferred card you’ll get trip interruption/cancellation insurance. This will cover things like inclement weather, sickness, death, a call to jury duty, etc. and you may be eligible for reimbursement up to $10,000 per person ($20,000 per trip) for prepaid expenses such as airfare and hotels. You and your immediate family traveling with you are covered. There are conditions that aren’t covered, such as injury due to negligence, preexisting conditions and war. You can check out the Sapphire Preferred’s full terms and conditions here.
The Sapphire Preferred is a great card to have because with it you’ll have the ability to transfer the Chase Ultimate Rewards points you earn with no-annual-fee cards (Chase Freedom®, Chase Freedom Unlimited®) to Chase’s travel partners. This is the first card I recommend to family and friends who want to use miles and points to book travel because its’ easy to use and earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Best low annual fee business card
Earn 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after making $15,000 in purchases in first three months of account opening.
Travel insurance benefits
The Ink Business Preferred is the business credit card version of the Sapphire Preferred and it has very similar travel coverages. You’ll get primary rental car insurance, when you’re renting primarily for business purposes and you decline the rental company’s collision coverage.
If you use the card to pay for prepaid travel expenses, you could be covered for up to $5,000 if your trip is cut short or cancelled for reasons like weather, illness, or injury. Immediate family members and business owners also qualify for this coverage. In addition, any travel paid for with the card will receive trip delay and lost/delayed luggage coverage. You can be reimbursed up to $500 per covered person for delays of 12+ hours or that require an overnight stay. And you can be reimbursed up to $100 per day, for five days, for luggage that is delayed six or more hours and up to $3,000 for lost luggage.
If you can qualify for business credit cards, the Ink Business Preferred is my favorite card. Not only does it often have the biggest intro offer, but the minimum spending requirement is quite reasonable compared to some of the other top business cards. And it’s hard to beat what you can do with Chase Ultimate Rewards points, like booking a resort stay worth $3,000+ with points.
Best for delayed trips
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Travel insurance benefits
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a lot in common with the Sapphire Preferred. It has similar primary rental car insurance benefits. And baggage insurance benefits, so you’ll get reimbursed up to $100 per day for five days for delayed luggage and up to $3,000 for lost luggage. However, the Sapphire Reserve’s trip delay insurance is much better. You can be reimbursed for up to $500 per ticket for you, your spouse or domestic partner, and any immediate family on your reservation. But the benefit kicks in much earlier, after a delay of only 6+ hours (or if it requires an overnight stay). That’s half the time of most other trip delay coverages.
The trip interruption/cancellation insurance covers you for up to $10,000 per person ($20,000 per trip) in prepaid expenses. Situations where this insurance kicks include instances such as illness, severe weather and jury duty. You’ll also get emergency medical/dental benefits if you’re 100 miles or more from home on a covered trip, you can be reimbursed up to $2,500 for medical expenses if you or your immediate family member become sick or injured.
And in a worst case scenario and you or a member of your immediate family are injured or become sick and need emergency evacuation you can be covered for medical services and transportation up to $100,000. The card also provide travel accident insurance for death or dismemberment of up to $100,000. It also has a very good roadside assistance perk.
When it comes to travel coverages the Sapphire Reserve is at the top of the class, which is what you’d expect with a card that has a $550 annual fee. But in reality, the high annual fee is more manageable than it first appears. First off, every year you’ll get up to $300 in travel credits. Just purchase things like airfare, hotels or rental cars and you’ll automatically be reimbursed for the expense. Plus, the card also comes with a Priority Pass airport lounge membership, which gets you (and up to two guests) unlimited lounge access.
Best Amex personal card
Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
Travel insurance benefits
The American Express Platinum’s benefits are excellent overall, but when it comes to travel insurance the card lacked some of the best perks. However, that is all changing in 2020, so let’s look at the current coverages the card has and what is being added in 2020.
The Amex Platinum has baggage insurance that covers damaged, stolen or lost baggage up to $3,000 per person when you pay for the entire fare with your card. It also comes with access to the Premium Global Assist Hotline, which will help you with everything from lost passport replacement to emergency medical transportation.
The card’s travel accident insurance and roadside assistance benefits are being discontinued on Jan. 1st 2020. But these coverages are being added. For travel paid for with your card on or after Jan. 1st 2020, you’ll have trip cancellation/interruption coverage of up to $10,000 per trip ($20,000 per account per 12 months) for prepaid expenses when you can’t travel or your travel is cut short for instances such as illness, injury or jury duty. You’ll also have trip delay insurance (after Jan. 1st 2020) of up to $500 per trip (max two claims per 12 month period). This is a nice addition, but it isn’t quite as extensive of a trip delay perk as what the Sapphire Reserve provides.
$695 (see rates and fees)
After January 1st 2020, when trip delay and trip interruption/cancellation coverages will be added to the card the Platinum card will become an excellent card to us for booking certain travel. It earns 5x Amex points on airfare booked directly with the airlines or through the Amex travel site and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. You’ll have a hard time beating that return. The card also has yearly credits that can knock down your out-of-pocket cost for the annual fee. You’ll get up to $200 in annual airline incidental fee credits, up to $200 in Uber credits per year and up to $100 annually in credits for Saks Fifth Ave. purchases.
Best Amex business card
The American Express Business Platinum has a welcome offer of 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
Travel insurance benefits
The travel insurance benefits on the American Express Business Platinum closely mirror those of the personal Platinum card. You’ll have access to the Premium Global Assist Hotline for emergencies when you’re traveling more than 100 miles from home, including missing luggage services and emergency medical transportation assistance. The cards baggage insurance will cover you for up to $3,000 per person for lost, stolen or damaged luggage.
Just like with the personal Platinum card, the Business Platinum is losing its roadside assistance and travel accident insurance on Jan. 1st 2020. But it’s gaining trip delay and trip interruption/cancellation coverage. Trip delay insurance will kick in after a delay of 6+ hours and reimburse you for up to $500 per trip with a max of two claims per 12 month period. The trip cancellation/interruption insurance covers you for up to $10,000 per trip ($20,000 per account per 12 month period) for prepaid expenses when you miss a trip or a trip is cut short by certain events, like sickness, severe weather or jury duty.
$595 (see rates and fees)
In addition to the travel insurance benefits, the Business Platinum is loaded with other perks. You’ll get up to $200 in airline incidental fee credits every year and up to $200 in credits for eligible Dell purchases. Plus, the card comes with top-notch airport lounge access that gets you into Delta SkyClub lounges (when traveling with Delta), Amex Centurion lounges and Priority Pass lounges.
As card issuers try to save money useful travel insurance perks are being cut from even the best rewards credit cards. Citibank went as far as removing nearly every single travel insurance benefit from just about all of its cards. Granted, travel coverages shouldn’t be the main factor in whether or not you get a specific card, but it shouldn’t be ignored either. I’m made two successful trip delay claims with Chase saving me over $500 in the process. Now I always make sure I pay for travel with a card that has a trip delay benefit.
For this list we focused mainly on the card’s travel insurances when determining which cards made the cut and not as much on bonus offers or other travel perks. You could also look as this list as a handy guide to which of your current stack of cards should be used to pay for your next trip.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For the rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card from American Express, please click here.
Featured photo by Evgeny Bakharev/Shutterstock.
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