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Scanning photos of fellow award travelers reclining in First and Business Class, often paying just cents on the dollar for their seats, it’s easy to forget that some of the best money-saving tips for travel have nothing to do with collecting points and miles.
Almost every rewards card features ancillary benefits ranging from purchase protection and extended warranty coverage to roadside assistance and a slew of different travel insurance perks. One of the most valuable (and widely used) of these benefits is Trip Delay Reimbursement, which can cover your expenses in the event of a delayed or canceled flight.
Policies differ between providers, particularly the length of the delay required before the coverage kicks in, although the coverage is activated for all providers if an overnight stay is required.
What is Trip Delay Reimbursement and How Does it Work?
Trip Delay Protection reimburses you for expenses incurred due to a delayed or canceled flight, train, bus; virtually any land, air, or sea-based transport designed to take you directly from point A to point B.
The length of the delay before coverage kicks in varies by provider, typically ranging between 6 and 12 hours, with policies providing up to $500 per person for a covered incident.
Most trip delay policies cover meals and accommodation, along with any personal necessities that travelers may require due to the delay. While the coverage is different for each provider, covered delays can include:
- Equipment failure
- Extreme weather and natural disasters
- Lost or stolen passport or travel documents
- Labor strikes
- Unable to board because of overbooking
- Hijacking or skyjacking
Both the covered events and the length of the delay before coverage kicks in vary widely between providers. Before choosing which card to swipe for your next travel purchase, read over the Guide to Benefits for each of your cards to see which offers the best protection.
It’s important to note which cards require that you put the entire cost of the travel on the card to obtain coverage, and which need just a portion (for example taxes and fees with the rest covered by points or miles). This can have a big impact on which card to choose.
Credit Cards Offering Trip Delay Protection
The cards listed below aren’t the only cards to offer trip delay reimbursement as a benefit. However, they represent the cards offering what we see as the best coverage, and those that provide better than average protection while also providing plenty of value overall.
Citi historically had the top spot in these lists with the Citi Prestige® Card cover kicking in after just a 3-hour delay. However, as of September 22, 2019, Citi dropped trip delay cover on all of its rewards cards, including premium cards like the Citi Prestige® Card. That leaves the policies on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card in the top spot, which both cover delays of 6 or more hours.
At the beginning of 2020, Amex also added trip delay cover to some of its premium travel cards. Amex Trip Delay coverage is split into two tiers, with ultra-premium cards like the The Platinum Card® from American Express receiving the highest level of protection, and mid-tier cards receiving second-tier coverage.
Want to know your policy but can’t find the Guide to Benefits for your credit card? Check out our master list of credit card benefits guides!
How to File a Trip Delay Claim
To file a trip delay claim, you’ll need to submit:
- Completed claim form
- Copy of your account showing the fare paid
- Copies of the travel tickets
- Statement from the carrier indicating why travel was delayed
- Receipts for all expenses
- Any other documentation required by your card provider
Initial contact typically must be made within 60 days of the date of delay, with all requested documents returned within 120 to 180 days, depending on your provider. To initiate a trip delay claim, contact the relevant phone number below, or visit the listed website for your provider.
- American Express – Call the Benefits Administrator on 1-844-933-0648 to open a claim.
- Barclaycard – Visit MyCardBenefits.com or call 1-800-Mastercard to open a claim.
- Chase – Head to eclaimsline.com or call the Benefit Administrator at 1-804-281-5772 for information to file a claim.
An Example of a Valid Trip Delay Reimbursement Claim
Here's a straightforward, real-world example from within the AwardWallet family of a valid claim:
Howie's wife, Sara, took a trip to Key West 2 years ago and her return flight was eventually canceled due to a mechanical delay, which forced an overnight. Delta would have paid for a hotel (whichever they could find that was the cheapest) and would have shuttled her to the hotel, but instead Sara left the airport, Howie booked her a hotel room, she took a cab there, and had a nice meal; all knowing that she'd be filing a claim for reimbursement.
In the end, everything was 100% reimbursed, and here are the details on her booking:
- Flights originally paid for using 30,000 Delta SkyMiles (from Sara's account, but this doesn't matter) + $11.20 in taxes/fees charged to Howie's Citi Prestige® Card
- Paid cash for her cab from the airport to the Westin Key West (no longer an SPG Property)
- Used her authorized user card attached to Howie's Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express to pay for the hotel room
- Charged her meals to the room at the Westin
- Paid cash again for the cab back to the airport
Sara kept receipts for everything, which were submitted electronically. A check arrived within 2 weeks of submission.
Key points to note:
- Only charged the taxes/fees to the credit card
- The Prestige Card wasn't used to pay for any of the additionally incurred expenses
Trip Delay Reimbursement is one of the most valuable benefits offered by credit card providers, covering you for expenses incurred due to transport delays and cancellations. Each credit provider offers different coverage; you must look at the details of each card to figure out which is best for your scenario.
Echoing reviews of other ancillary benefits we’ve covered, Chase currently takes out the top spot for Trip Delay coverage with a policy covering delays of 6 hours or more and will cover the entire family.
If you have any experiences to share claiming for trip delays, or you think there’s a card that should be included in the list, get in touch via the comments below.
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card (Rates & Fees), Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card (Rates & Fees), American Express® Business Gold Card (Rates & Fees), American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card (Rates & Fees), Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card (Rates & Fees), Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card (Rates & Fees), The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees)
The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
This is great information in one place!
Good information. Very useful.
Didn’t one of the Chase cards require an overnight delay for coverage?
The terms you’ll see typically read “X hours OR overnight stay”
Howie, if you purchase a ticket using AA points and then charge taxes and any carrier imposed charges on the card, does this fully cover you for travel insurance for the majors ie Chase, Citi or Barclays, or do they only work for tickets purchased for $’s?
It depends. Check out this post: https://awardwallet.com/blog/which-credit-card-should-you-use-to-pay-award-taxes-fees/
Thank you Howie! This is very useful!:)
Most of these cards require a pretty long delay. Does weather delay count?
Yes, as the article states, a weather delay is an eligible delay for compensation.
What if the flight is overbooked, and at the check-in counter there is an offer of (say) EUR600 to voluntarily give up your seat, and you take the offer. Can you still make a claim for “being unable to board”?
If you voluntarily give up you’re seat, you’re not “unable to board”.
thanks for the information, I had no idea. one more reason to charge my sapphire reserve.
Now that I read the comments, the last 2 trips I took missed a potential major snow storm by a day (on one occasion, United offered a measly $400 to give up your seat, with the airports already ordered closed the next day, so you would have been given a seat 9 a.m. 2 days later, assuming flights were even taking off.). Using a card that only requires at least any amount charged (taxes and fees) would have been smart.
Great comparison guide.
Citi Prestige is generally the best even with the recent claims denials.
Really useful! Can someone help me? Im trying to decide about applying for US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa infinite card and I can’t find the travel delay insurance details shown in this article for it. Can anyone tell me what this cards policy is on delays? Thank you in advance!
According to https://benefits.usbank.com/personal/benefits/benefits-us-bank-altitude-visa-infinite.html
When you purchase air travel with your covered U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card and your flight is delayed by more than six hours or requires an overnight stay, Trip Delay kicks in.
This benefit can reimburse you for reasonable expenses incurred as a result of a delay ($500 maximum per ticket).This coverage applies even if the delay is due to weather or mechanical issues. And, this benefit is in addition to any airline vouchers you receive for food or hotels. In order for coverage to apply, you must use your covered U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve card to secure transactions. Certain terms, conditions, and exclusions apply.
Call 1-800-546-9806 to learn more
very helpful. I had no idea that this benefit existed.
Didn’t they recently do some changes to the Prestige’s flight delay insurance that made it sub-par?
Sub-par, no not at all. They clarified the terms such that if you arrive late due to a missed connection and that connection was less than 3 hours, you wouldn’t be covered by trip delay protection.
very helpful, thank you
My Amex Gold insurance replied to my request of refund because of cancelled flight (by airline) which the cancellation of a flight is not covered.
So only delays, mis-connections and baggage problems are covered.
Does these cards cover trip delay only or cancellation as well?
Also, is delay covered as per the start or the end of journey timeline. Say, the airline gives us a new routing within an hour of original departure, with a stopover, so that we arrive about 7-8 hrs late at our destination- would we be covered?
Delay and cancellation. And yes, a delay has to do with getting to your destination — so 7-8 hours late would be covered, as long as it is in excess of the threshold required for coverage.
I wish I had the Citi prestige. It would have been useful today.
nice outline of who’s doing what, and not (AMEX)
@Anupam says: “Citi seems to provide better coverage. I wonder which one has less papaerwork.”
Yes, when evaluating such coverage, the cost in terms of time to exercise, i.e. the ease of exercising, the coverage should definitely be included in any such assessment.
If only Amex would also offer decent trip delay benefits…
Are there ever any issues with receiving reimbursement via the card’s insurance policy if the carrier offered compensation, like Delta in this example offering a hotel room?
In the example included, Delta actually offered a hotel room, however, Sara didn’t take it. You don’t need to take the compensation offered by an airline.
Trip insurance is one of those things that isnt important to you until you actually need it.
Used $495 of the $500 Chase delay insurance on my CSR over the winter due to the crazy storms. Won’t go without it again.
I wonder why Amex won’t offer coverage. For $550 on the platinum that is the least they could do!
great to have these cards!
very useful information, thanks for the post.
Thanks for helpful breakdown
thanks for the info
Wow. I really could have used this list in the past. Thank you for providing this.
How does it work with EU regulations? If the trip on an EU carrier was delayed more than 3h, the passenger is entitled to quite nice monetary compensation… 250-700 euro or close to that depending on how long the flight is. Your example here shows someone declining airline`s offer to cover accommodation and transport, which most likely (I don`t know) means you can not claim the monetary compensation? Or does it not interfere with that?
Just goes to show that often these cards have benefits that people don’t even realise. Good post.
Is it normal to get all costs covered? What does the reimbursement amount depend on?
Covers the cost of lodging, food, transport to/from lodging, and personal need items
I had never thought about flight delay insurance before, and this article has got me thinking that it is something I must look into further.
Hi! if I purchase a ticket for a friend (who are not an authorized user) – can they benefit from the flight delay insurance? flight is purchased on amex personal platinum
Amex doesn’t cover trip delay
Thank you for this really helpful information. I’ve printed it for reference when considering my next trav card.
Really appreciate the real world example. Was afraid that Citi would just reimburse up to the amount charged to the card.
Had a great experience with the Citi Prestige card when my luggage didn’t arrive in London (misrouted to Indianapolis.. because, why not?). Was very smooth – out of pocket expenses were about $100 or so and the bags made it the following day.
The CSR’s fee is prorated (450 for 365 days, so about $1.24/day), if the coverage you’re looking for from your claim is more than the refund, I say just hold onto the card until the claim is closed.
THis would have been helpful for me on some previous trips.
Thanks for the info
I’d definitely keep the csr too. For 150 per year after the 300 credit, the insurance coverage alone is worth that if you do any kind of travel.
Such an important gathering of details for your readers regarding this very helpful topic. Many thanks.
Thanks for the helpful info.
Chase took over two months to respond to a claim I submitted through eclaims, only to ask for more info. I’m still waiting.
Keep in mind, that Chase does not process these claims. They’re processed by the insurance company that manages the claim.
Citi seems to be the most generous with trip delay coverage, but weighing the entire pantheon of benefits, the CSR still comes out on top for me.
I recently bought a ticket with my Amex Platinum to get the 5 points per dollar. Delta sent me an opportunity to upgrade a few days later. If I pay for the upgrade with my CSR, will that trip then be covered by the trip delay insurance of the CSR (I don’t have the Citi Prestige)
Technically it should as you’re paying for a portion of the trip with the CSR, but you should secure message them first to get it in writing.
Good information to have just in case of a delay situation. What if you don’t routinely get a paper ticket?
Are you indicating that the “max amount covered” is a reimbursement for actual expenses covered rather than payment for the inconvenience and sometimes trauma of a delay? In your example, she received only compensation for receipted expenses.
That is correct.
Thanks for this.
nice summary. I need to track this, as it seems to happen about 10% of my travel.
Great info, thanks!
How does it work if you travel as a family? Let’s say a family of 4 paid through CSR? Would that be $500 per person? And what if the total flight was paid split from CSR and Prestigue? Thanks!
Cover is up to $500 per person provided a portion of ALL tickets are paid for using that card. You can only claim insurance from one card or the other, not both.
Nice!! Thanks for highlighting all theses options.
Keeping this info for future reference if ever needed. Much appreciated!
Citi seems to provide better coverage. I wonder which one has less papaerwork.
i personally LOVE the chase sapphire from my experience.
Citi may not cover you in certain cases, see
Thanks, have updated post with FT thread.
I just clicked on the information for the Ritz-Carlton card, and it says it must be a 12 hour delay, not 6.
The ritz guide to benefits links to the visa signature version of the card (there doesn’t appear to be a visa infinite version published) but it is 6 hours, not 12. More here: https://www.ritzcarltonrewardscard.com/travel-purchase-protection
I have 2 citi cards from Costco–one is business and one personal. I often use the business one to charge flights. Citi cards reimburse you if you miss a flight due to a medical emergency. I had an emergency and tried to file a claim. The coverage is only available on my Citi Costco personal card–not business. Of course, all travel is now charged with my personal card.
It isn’t just Citi, may other issuers do as well.
I was surprised at some of the covered delays, good to know also about not having to charge the entire ticket, and just paying the taxes on an award ticket counts towards being covered!
I hope to never find personally how good these benefits are, but I’m glad they’re there!
Wow. Thank you ever so much for this important info.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ MasterCard® . Do you have to charge the card for the trip also?
Yes, the entire trip must be paid for with the card.
This is a very comprehensive and useful comparison!
We could have used this yesterday going to Beijing. We eventually switched airlines, but were quite delayed.
I purchased a ticket with my chase reserve points, and my return flight was cancelled. First, our tickets purchased with chase reserve points eligible for trip delay insurance claim? Second, I was about to downgrade my Reserve card. I can get my claim filed before I do that, but do I need to keep Reserve card open for the claim processing period? (THat would cost me the ability to get a full refund of my annual fee.) thanks.
Based on what you’ve stated here, yes, you’re eligible, if the cancellation reason is covered. You can downgrade and still claim the benefit — I’d recommend filing the claim now, while you have the card … and then keeping the card anyway 🙂
I’m actually shocked the window is that big, even at 3 hours for citi.
Pretty good deal on the Citi. Didn’t know that. Thanks.