Which Credit Cards Have the Best Flight Delay Insurance? [2020]

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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.

delayed flight

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 has 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.

Credit CardMinimum Delay RequiredMax Amount CoveredAnnual Fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve®6 hours$500$550
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card6 hours$500$450
The Platinum Card® from American Express6 hours$500$550
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express6 hours$500$595
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card6 hours$500$550
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card6 hours$500$550
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card6 hours$500$450 - Rates & Fees
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card6 hours$500$450
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card12 hours$500$95
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card12 hours$500$95
Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card12 hours$500$0 intro annual fee for the First Year, then $85
United℠ Explorer Card12 hours$500$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
The Hyatt Credit Card12 hours$500$75
United Club℠ Infinite Card12 hours$500$525
United MileagePlus® Club Card12 hours$500$450
United℠ Business Card12 hours$500$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $99
United℠ Explorer Business Card (No longer open to applications)12 hours$500$95
Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card12 hours$500$0 intro annual fee for the First Year, then $99
American Express® Green Card12 hours$300$150
American Express® Gold Card12 hours$300$250
American Express® Business Gold Card12 hours$300$295
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card12 hours$300$250
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card12 hours$300$250

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

Final Thoughts

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: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees)

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