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With roughly 15% of US travelers having to cancel or change their travel plans each year, investing in quality travel insurance is a must. But one of the issues with travel insurance is it can be prohibitively expensive, with 3rd party insurance plans increasing the cost of travel by as much as 10%.

If you carry a rewards card in your wallet, chances are you already have access to some form of travel insurance, with many cards featuring a variety of travel protection policies that have your back when something goes wrong. And the cost of this coverage? For the majority of providers, the policy is free of charge, the only qualifying factor being you use the card to pay for the travel you want to be covered.

The coverage you need if you have to cancel travel plans, or your trip is interrupted partway through your vacation, is Trip Interruption & Cancellation Insurance.

People Walking at Airport with Bags

What is Trip Interruption and Cancellation Insurance?

Trip Interruption and Cancellation Insurance covers you if your travel plans are interrupted during a trip, or you have to cancel before your travel begins for any of the reasons covered under your card’s policy. The difference between the two policies is simple.

  • Trip Cancellation covers you up until the day of departure. If your plans are canceled due to bad weather, illness, or another covered reason before you depart on your travels, Trip Cancellation insurance can help you recover the out-of-pocket, pre-paid expenses you can’t recoup from the travel provider.
  • Trip Interruption covers you during your travels. If your trip is interrupted for a covered event and you have to cut your travels short, Trip Interruption Insurance can reimburse you for the portion of the journey you are unable to complete.

Both Chase and Citi cover trips paid for with points or your qualifying card, so the cards listed in the table below include award travel paid for directly with points.

The Best Rewards Credit Cards for Trip Interruption and Cancellation Insurance

Similar to the results in our post covering the best cards for Trip Delay Reimbursement, all the cards listed below are from Chase or Citi. Chase provides the higher maximum claim limit than Citi.

Credit CardMaximum CoverageWho is CoveredAnnual FeeGuide to Benefits
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardUp to $10,000 per person for each covered trip ($20k per trip and $40k per year max)Primary cardholder and immediate family$95Sapphire Preferred Guide to Benefits
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Up to $10,000 per person for each covered trip ($20k per trip and $40k per year max)Primary cardholder and immediate family$450Sapphire Reserve Guide to Benefits
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit CardUp to $10,000 per person for each covered trip ($20k per trip and $40k per year max)Primary cardholder and immediate family$450Ritz-Carlton Card Guide to Benefits
United MileagePlus® Club CardUp to $10,000 per person for each covered trip ($20k per trip and $40k per year max)Primary cardholder and immediate family$450MileagePlus Club Card Guide to Benefits
Citi® Double Cash CardUp to $1,500 per covered tripPrimary cardholder and family members$0Double Cash Card Benefits
Citi Prestige® CardUp to $5,000 per traveler per covered tripPrimary cardholder and family members$450Prestige Card Guide to Benefits
Citi Premier CardUp to $5,000 per covered tripPrimary cardholder and family members$95, waived for first 12 monthsThankYou Premier Guide to Benefits

Unfortunately, Amex cards don’t make the list, even premium travel cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express as American Express doesn’t offer Trip Delay, Interruption, or Cancellation insurance on any of its credit card products. Other providers that don’t make the cut include:

Another card often featured on ‘best of' lists is the United℠ Explorer Card from Chase. However, the latest Guide to Benefits for the card states the Trip Interruption/Cancellation coverage was cut June 1, 2018, from $10,000 per trip to $1,500 per covered person up to a maximum $6,000 per trip.

Not sure if your credit card offers any kind of Trip Interruption/Cancellation coverage? Check out our master list of credit card Guides to Benefits.

What does Trip Interruption and Cancellation Insurance Cover?

Coverage differs between providers, but the most common covered events include:

  • Accidental injury, death, or illness experienced by you or a family member
  • Severe weather which prevents you from the beginning or continuing a trip
  • Change in military orders for you, your spouse, or partner
  • A terrorist action or hijacking
  • Jury duty or receiving a subpoena from the courts which can't be postponed or waived
  • Finding your hotel/accommodation to be uninhabitable
  • Quarantine imposed by a Physician for health reasons
  • Financial insolvency of the Travel Agency, Tour Operator, or Travel Supplier whose services you booked

The expenses covered by your policy are typically limited to non-refundable pre-paid air, land, or sea transportation, change fees if you need to change travel arrangements to a later date, and any pre-paid tour or accommodation costs that cannot be refunded. Unlike the Trip Delay coverage provided on many of the same cards, to receive a full refund of your travel expenses, the entire trip must be paid for on the card or with points earned within that provider's rewards programs.

How to File a Trip Interruption or Cancellation Claim

To file a claim, you’ll need to supply the following documentation:

  • Completed claim form
  • Copy of your itinerary and tickets
  • Confirmation of the reason for the Trip Cancellation/Interruption—i.e., medical documents, death certificate, or other documentation supporting your claim
  • Copy of the Credit Card statement that shows the charge for prepaid travel arrangements
  • Proof of expenses incurred due to a Trip Interruption
  • A copy of the cancellation or refund policies of the Common Carrier, Tour Operator, or Travel Supplier
  • Any other documentation required by your card provider

The claim window is a lot shorter with Chase than Citi, less than half the time Citi allows for the initial claim to be made.

  • Chase – Need to file a claim within 20 days of the cancellation/interruption, and all supporting documents supplied within 90 days.
  • Citi – Provides 60 days for you to lodge a claim, with all supporting documents submitted within 180 days.

To file a claim, either call your Benefits Administrator or visit the Chase or Citi websites.

  • Chase – Head to eclaimsline.com or Call the Benefit Administrator at 1-804-281-5772 for information to file a claim.
  • Citi – Go to CardBenefits.citi.com to download a claim form or call 1-866-506-5222 for instructions on how to submit a claim.

Final Thoughts

An essential feature if you don’t want to pay top dollar for 3rd party travel insurance, Trip Interruption and Cancellation Insurance offered with rewards credit cards can save you plenty of cash by making another ‘necessary’ travel insurance free of charge for cardholders.

While the four Chase cards all feature the same coverage, the gong for best overall card goes to the Sapphire Preferred. Compared to the premium cards keeping it company at the top of the table, the Sapphire Preferred only charges an annual fee of $95, and yet provides the same or better coverage than every other card on the list. The Citi Double Cash also gets an honorable mention, with $5K Trip Interruption/Cancellation coverage on a card that charges no annual fee.

If you’ve ever made a Trip Interruption or Cancellation claim on your card, either approved or denied, we’d love to hear your experience in the comments!

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (See Terms)

Top Credit Cards for Trip Interruption & Trip Cancellation Insurance [2019]
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Comments

  • charles j says:

    I I assume that I can safely assume that paying the fee and tax with a card when using points to pay for the flight won’t work.

  • I am surprised that AMEX overlooks travel insurance benefits.

  • Without question the Chase Sapphire’s are the best for this in my mind.

    • Well you are wrong. It turns out that all Chase credit card interruption insurance will NOT pay to have a traveler return to his home. This is in contrast to all other trip insurances including other credit card interruption insurance. Even the CITI AAdvantage card will pay to get the traveler home. But NOT Chase – they will not pay for the single most expensive part if your trip is interrupted, I have both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the CITI Prestige and will be terminating 1 card in July. Since I have learned of this I will be terminating the Chase card.

      • Beware the fine print for Chase Trip Interruption Insurance with Chase Sapphire Reserve ( and I presume the Preferred card). As was pointed out in another blog, Chase, which uses Allianz Ins., will not pay for the extra expense if you have to upgrade to a new last minute ticket to continue your interrupted trip. (Nor I presume the hotel costs until you can resume your trip). I had a medical emergency that would have delayed my return trip. Chase said it would pay for the change fees, but not the cost of an upgraded ticket to change (and airlines often waive the change fee for medical). My ticket was so cheap (8 months out at 50% discount) that Singapore air did not have a comparable seat at that cost, so I would have to upgrade to a normal fare for $1000 more. Chase said it would not cover it. Fortunately my ear infection subsided and I was able to make the original flight. What the other blogger pointed out is that in most Trip Insurances they include the phrase something like “and additional fees” to continue the journey. Chase does not have that.

  • Since I use one of these cards to pay for my trips, maybe I should quit buying separate travel insurance.

  • Amex really needs to up its game on this front.

  • I believe that Citi has just announced that they are changing their trip delay and cancellation benefits to equal those of the Chase Cards. (no longer including travel companions, only family) So the Sapphire Reserve continues to be the leader. I also wish the Amex Platinum included this type of benefits.

  • deerseason says:

    Haven’t used mine yet, luckily, but looks like they continue to be devalued, unluckily. You’d think with interest rates increasing and deregulation, the rewards would be getting good again, but alas not the case.

  • I wish amex offered these benefits. Surprised to see Citi DC offers it though

  • Michaelj1 says:

    Thank you for the reminder. I just advised a friend of the above as he just suffered a cancellation and delay. I hope he and his family are covered.

  • Wow I didn’t know about the 20 days of the cancellation/interruption window with Chase, good to know!

  • Yes, AMEX certainly falls behind the leader, Chase, in this regard. Thank you for a great explanation and Chase for a solid benefit!

  • Amex needs to step up to the plate on this one.

  • Looks like Citi is a bit cheap on benefits when you pay $450.00 for the prestige card.

    • The benefits on the card have been slashed pretty significantly over the past year and they haven’t touched the annual fee or added significant benefits. It is a tough sell for the cost.

  • I think one of the first commenters meant, if they pay the fees and taxes on an award booking, does that initiate or activate coverage?

  • Another reason to love the Sapphire Reserve; this is part of the reason both my wife and I have it.

  • charles j says:

    Yes. I suppose you have to actually pay for the flight with the card to get these benefits, and if you book through a credit card’s site, when a credit card has rewards, like Thank You points, orf you airline miles, and pay the small fee and tax with one of these cards, you don’t get the benefit.

  • Jacqueline says:

    I’m very surprised to hear Amex is not as good in this area, especially considering their hefty annual fees.

  • Yea Amex is weak here. Also sucks that Citi lowered the coverage on the Prestige.

  • Are pre-paid cruises covered by the above credit cards in the event of trip cancellation/interruption?

  • I did not know that award bookings were covered before.

  • Well that does make me happy to have the Sapphire Preferred. I would think that the higher the AF the better the benefits would be though.
    I wonder how they justify it and even apply certain benefits to the higher AF cards?
    I am very surprised that Amex doesn’t have this coverage! They seem to be the “elite” travel card, however Chase is gaining on them, I would have never thought they wouldn’t have this.

  • Trip insurance and cancellation insurance is a really good benefit to have on a card. Strangely I wouldn’t pay for them, but would be happy to pay a fee for a card that includes this.

  • David Damsker says:

    R, I agree completely. Not important enough to pay for from the airline/ third party, but if my credit card covered it, I’d be all for it.

  • Christine Bethke says:

    Just redeemed some points for a Delta flight, was going to place the fees on my Amex and remembered my Chase Reserve had benefits for trip cancellation.

  • In reply to someone who has questioned above, for some credit cards you do get the insurance even when you book award tickets if you pay all taxes and fees with the credit card. Better check with your card provider if that’s your case.

  • Thank you for this excellent report! I love AwardWallet and this is icing on the cake. I see with dismay that none of my current credit cards are on your list for travel protection. How terrible that AMEX just ignores that feature. All us AMEX card holders should protest, indeed. This is outrageous. I just wish I knew what cards of mine I should use to buy my tickets, which I have to do this week. I will apply for the Chase Sapphire (through your site), but I need to purchase my tickets tomorrow. I’ve got AA Advantage cards, business and Platinum Select, Mastercard. Any thoughts on which I should use?

  • Glad to run across this thread. Although I already took the plunge to purchase a single travel insurance policy, I really need to take a closer look and compare what I already had available and potentially paid for. Looking at the list above, I don’t currently have any of those specific flavors. Perhaps a consideration if I find I really don’t have what I need. Thanks for the head’s up!

  • I think that your listing for City TY Premier card is incorrect. It should be $5000/trip – not per person. Also Citi Double Cash is now $1500/trip.

  • Does anyone know if trip cancellation insurance would apply to a situation where you have rented a beach house for a week and a hurricane makes the occupancy impossible? Thanks.

    –David

  • Do you know any cases when insurance actually payed claimed money? I claimed my trip cancellation due to illness through United Mileage. It’s on the final review. They said it will take 5 business days, it was a month ago. It’s still pending, still no decision.

    • Citi typically pays very quickly (a week or two). Chase can take several months – but they eventually pay. Last year I had to cancel an Antarctic cruise and had charged the $40,000 ($20,000 with CSR, $10,0000 with Ink Preferred, and $5000 to eac. of two City TY Premier cards) all were eventually paid. Using the cards saved me $40,000 cruise fare – or $2800 in trip cancellation insurance.

      The CSR card is amazing!!

  • It is worth noting that Amex Platinum cards provide medical evacuation to the US through their global assist program. This includes adventurous destinations like safaris in Botswana and cruises to Antarctica. The coverage is regardless of how the trip was paid as long as the Plat card is active.

  • CSR also provides free emergency evacuation ($100,000) and medical, dental and drug coverage ($2500). AMEX provides nothing in the way of trip cancellation/interruption coverage. To get full coverage (up to your stated limits) with CSR you only need to charge the tax on air or any portion of the cruise or tour fare.

  • @Joel: That is good to know about the CSR. In the future, I will be sure to include some part of the trip expense on my CSR.

    I had a cancelation claim for about $3000 with Citi Premier for a family kayaking trip to Baja last year. They paid the entire amount in just a few weeks with just a doctor’s note (broken ankle) and a copy of the expense receipt. I was pleasantly surprised.

    I like Amex because there is no cap on evacuation costs, which can be phenomenal. According to the Amex Global Assist rep I spoke to before our Antarctica trip, they will organize a rescue anywhere an air ambulance can land – including Antarctica. He described a complex evacuation he organized from South Georgia back to the US that cost the client zero. Chase covers evacuation to the nearest hospital. Amex covers that and medical transportation to your home city if needed after being stabilized. That is truly comprehensive. Whether it is worth the annual fee depends on your travel profile and whether you can take advantage of other Amex card benefits.

  • Tim Collins says:

    Anyone know if your Homeowners or Auto Insuror covers travel cancellation reimbursement or will sell me a rider or short term policy for it at a resonable price if the credit cards travel plans won’t work?

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