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Flight delays are inevitable when traveling by air. Planes get held up by weather, mechanical, or personnel issues, or you may get bumped due to the flight being overbooked. But, provided you pay with the right card, you won’t have to rough it in the departures lounge or wear the outlay of an expensive airport hotel. If you hold a Chase or Citi travel rewards card, it’s highly likely you have access to some of the best Trip Delay protection available, provided you follow all the steps listed out below.
While Trip Delay coverage can take the financial sting out of unwanted delays, AwardWallet members often express confusion around the claims process. Who is covered? What delays and expenses will the cover reimburse? And what do you need to do to submit a successful claim? In this post, we aim to deconstruct the process for Chase and Citi cards using two of our favorite products, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Citi Prestige® Card.
What Delays Are Eligible for Trip Delay Coverage?
Trip Delay Reimbursement differs significantly between providers, with select delay events covered by Citi cards that Chase doesn’t include. Both providers require just a portion of the travel cost to be charged to your card, meaning you can pay with points or miles, and only need to cover the award fees & taxes with the card to qualify for coverage.
The policy offered on the Citi Prestige® Card covers:
- Delays caused by the common carrier (mechanical, personnel related, etc.)
- If your passport, money, or other travel documents are lost or stolen
- Passengers not able to board due to overbooking
- Delays caused by severe weather, a natural disaster, a previously unannounced strike, a quarantine, or hijacking.
Chase Trip Delay coverage includes:
- Equipment failure
- Delays due to inclement weather
- Labor strikes
- Hijacking or skyjacking
The fact that Citi covers overbooking and lost travel docs or money gives it a definite edge over Chase in the Trip Delay stakes. However, if you miss your flight due to sleeping in, traffic, or were given advanced notice of the delay, your claim will be denied.
Also, if you missed a connecting flight and your original flight was delayed less than 3 hours, you technically wouldn't be covered, according to this Reddit thread.
Your Card Determines Your Level of Coverage
Coverage on the Citi Prestige® Card kicks in after a delay of 6 hours and covers situations not covered by any other card. The coverage on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card kicks in after the same 6-hour delay, which is standard among high-end travel rewards cards. If you’re unsure what level of protection your card offers, check out our master list of credit card guides to benefits.
Who is Covered by Trip Delay Reimbursement?
Citi offers the most extensive coverage, including extended family members:
“Covered Travelers means You and Your Family Member(s) traveling on the Trip.
Family Members means Your 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.
Domestic Partner means a committed relationship between two unmarried adults, in which the partners, (1) are each other’s sole Domestic Partner, (2) maintain a common residence, (3) share financial obligations if both are employed, (4) are not married or joined in a civil union to anyone else or are not the Domestic Partner of anyone else, and (5) are not blood related.
You are still eligible for coverage on Trips for Your Family Member(s) even if You are not traveling.”
Chase, on the other hand, covers immediate family only:
“your spouse, and your dependent children under 22 years of age.”
What Expenses Does Trip Delay Reimbursement Cover?
Both cards feature Trip Delay coverage of up to $500 in associated costs, which includes items such as:
- Lodging – Hotel for an overnight stay
- Ground Transportation – Taxi or Uber to and from the hotel, or a rental car
- Personal or business necessities – Toiletries, medications, clothing, or other items needed when delayed
In both cases, Trip Delay Reimbursement is secondary and kicks in after reimbursements supplied by the airline or other insurers.
What to do if Your Flight is Delayed
The first thing to do is record all the details and collect documentation to prove the delay was out of your control. The terms from both Citi and Chase are somewhat vague, leaving the insurer plenty of wiggle room to deny your claim if you haven’t supplied the correct paperwork.
You’ll need records of why you were delayed (weather, mechanical, lost documents, etc), the length of delay and whether it requires an overnight stay, and a statement from the airline confirming all the details. It’s best to obtain this from the customer service desk before leaving the airport, but with some airlines, it can be done via their website or through customer service after the fact.
It’s also essential to keep itemized receipts for all expenses incurred due to the delay. These include the cost of accommodation, transport, and meals. Note: You don’t need to pay for these expenses with the card providing the Trip Delay protection. We run through a valid trip delay claim in a previous post, detailing how each item was paid for with a breakdown of reimbursed expenses. Some of the costs were paid in cash, others on a separate travel card, but all were approved in the claim because receipts were kept itemizing each expense.
How to File a Trip Delay Claim With Chase and Citi?
Go to CardBenefits.citi.com to download a claim form or call 1-866-506-5222 within 60 days of the trip delay for instructions on how to submit a Citi Trip Delay claim. Citi will ask you a few questions, send you a claim form and advise you what documents they need as proof to support the claim. Claim forms and all requested materials must be returned within 180 days of the original delay.
Docs commonly requested by Citi include:
- Proof of the delay or a delay statement from the airline
- A completed and signed claim form
- An account statement showing a portion of the travel cost charged to the card and a copy of your itinerary
- A statement detailing any compensation from the airline or another insurer
- Receipts for all expenses you want to claim
- Any other docs the administrator deems necessary to support your claim
Head to eclaimsline.com or call the Benefit Administrator at 1-804-281-5772 within 60 days of the date of delay to file a claim. The completed claim form and requested documentation must be returned within 100 days of the trip delay.
You'll need to include:
- Completed and signed claim form
- Account receipt showing that the travel fare was charged to your eligible card. If more than one method of payment was used, include documentation that shows a portion of the purchase was made with your Account.
- Copy of the Common Carrier ticket
- Statement from the Common Carrier indicating the reasons that the Covered Trip was delayed
- Copies of receipts for the claimed expenses
- Any other documentation deemed necessary to substantiate the claim
While the process may seem a lot of hassle, if you start recording everything from the moment the flight is delayed, you’ll find the workload a lot less burdensome. And with up to $500 in expenses on the table for each companion traveling on your itinerary, the benefits can extend to thousands of dollars.
We’re huge fans of ancillary benefits here at AwardWallet, often rating the benefits received with rewards cards to be a significant contribution to the overall value on those cards. Swiping the right card when paying for travel expenses can provide thousands of dollars in value if your travel is delayed by causes beyond your control, providing reimbursement for hotel accommodation, meals, and transport to/from the airport.
If you’ve claimed Trip Delay Reimbursement from Citi or Chase in the past, we’d love you to share your experience in the comments below.
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