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If you’ve ever been the last person standing at an empty luggage carousel waiting for your bags, you’ll understand the frustration of checked bags getting delayed or, even worse, disappearing. It can mean hours spent filing reports and on the phone chasing up the location of your bag, not to mention the out of pocket expense of purchasing essentials like phone chargers, a change of clothes and toiletries.
The good news is, if you pay for your flight with the right credit card, you can have immediate, incidental costs reimbursed if your checked bags are late to the party. Each credit card provider offers a different baggage delay policy, excluding specific items from claims, and, with anywhere from 6 to 12 hours before benefits go into effect.
In this post, we look to breakdown Baggage Delay policies from some of our favorite rewards cards and point out the best policies overall.
What is Baggage Delay Coverage?
A Baggage Delay policy will reimburse you for immediate, out-of-pocket expenses incurred if your bag is delayed or misdirected by a common carrier on route to your destination.
Covered expenses typically include items such as toiletries, a change of clothes, and phone chargers, but excludes non-essential items such as jewelry, watches, and electronics. Most cards will cover the primary cardholder and immediate family members, even if the cardholder isn’t traveling on the same itinerary (provided the ticket is paid for with the eligible card).
It’s important to differentiate between Baggage Delay Coverage, and Lost or Damaged Luggage coverage, as these policies are often confused.
- Baggage Delay cover reimburses you for the immediate purchase of essential items if your bag is delayed or misdirected by a common carrier on route to your destination.
- Lost Luggage cover will reimburse you for the cost of repairing or replacing checked or carry-on baggage (and typically the contents of your bag) if the luggage is lost or damaged while in transit on a common carrier.
There are significant discrepancies in how each provider defines a common carrier, and how the trip must be paid for to qualify for Baggage Delay coverage, so it’s crucial you read the Guide to Benefits for your credit card to understand the Baggage Delay policy.
As an example, take a look at the contrasting policies from two of the most popular travel rewards cards.
- Benefit kicks in after 6 hours
- Up to $100 per day for a maximum of 5 days
- Covers cardholder and immediate family
- Includes any motorized land, water or air conveyance licensed for the transportation of passengers for hire
- Covers award tickets and revenue fares paid in full/part using the Sapphire Reserve, and also award travel paid for with points earned via Chase cards even when the card isn’t used to pay fees and taxes
- Benefit kicks in after 6 hours
- Up to $500 per trip
- Covers cardholder, immediate family, and travel companions
- Includes planes, trains, ferries, and cruise ships, but excludes taxis, car service, rental car, and ride-sharing services
- Covers award fares paid for with ThankYou Points and revenue fares paid in full/part using the Prestige Card
Best Rewards Cards for Baggage Delay Coverage
Similar to a lot of the other travel insurance perks we’ve covered such as Trip Delay and Trip Interruption/Cancellation Insurance, Citi and Chase feature at the top of the list, although only with select cards. Baggage Delay doesn’t appear to be a benefit issued across all cards in the same manner. Again, Amex is absent from the list of providers, as none of its cards feature Baggage Delay, although they do offer Lost Luggage insurance which we’ll cover in another post.
|Credit Card||Minimum Delay||Maximum Coverage||Who is Covered||Annual Fee|
|Citi Prestige® Card||6 hours||$500||Cardholder, family, travel companions on same itinerary||$450|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®||6 hours||$500||Cardholder, family, travel companions on same itinerary||$450|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||6 hours||$100 per day up to max 5 days ($500)||Cardholder & immediate family members||$450|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||6 hours||$100 per day up to max 5 days ($500)||Cardholder & immediate family members||$95|
|The Hyatt Credit Card||6 hours||$100 per day up to max 5 days ($500)||Cardholder & immediate family members||$75|
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card||6 hours||$100 per day up to max 5 days ($500)||Cardholder, immediate family members, and employees||$95|
|AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®||12 hours||$100 per day up to max 3 days ($300)||Cardholder||$95|
Both Visa and Mastercard provide basic Baggage Delay coverage on mid-tier & top-tier credit cards.
Visa Signature Baggage Delay Reimbursement
“If your checked baggage is delayed or misdirected for more than four hours, you can be reimbursed for necessities you purchase up to $300. Certain terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. In order for coverage to apply, you must use your covered Visa Signature® card to secure transactions.”
Note: Be sure to review the terms for your specific card.
World Elite Mastercard Baggage Delay Insurance
“Reimburses you for replacing essential personal or business items in your baggage, if the baggage you have checked on a common carrier is delayed in transit and your tickets were purchased using an eligible Mastercard.”
Coverage on the Visa Signature and World Elite Mastercard rewards cards are capped as standard at $300 per trip, but like many other travel insurance perks we’ve covered, Baggage Delay appears to be an optional card benefit that isn’t provided on all products. It’s essential to call your benefits administrator to check if your card offers Baggage Delay, and what items will be reimbursed.
What Purchases Does Baggage Delay Cover?
Baggage Delay policies only cover essential costs incurred because your baggage is delayed or misdirected. Baggage Delay policies typically apply to your destination only, and both Barclays and Citi explicitly exclude claims when returning home. As per the Citi T&C's:
“There is no coverage when baggage is delayed returning to the Covered Traveler’s primary residence.”
Chase Baggage Delay covers:
- Charging cables for cellular telephones (1x cord per claim).
Chase won’t cover:
- Personal health items including contact lenses, eyeglasses, hearing aids, artificial teeth, dental bridges or prosthetic devices
- Tickets, documents, money, securities, checks, traveler's checks, and valuable papers
- Business samples
- Jewelry and watches
- Electronics such as cameras, video recorders, cell phones, tablets, or computing equipment
Citi Baggage Delay covers:
- “Personal and business items.. such as toiletries or a change of clothes…”
Citi won’t cover:
- Any items not contained in the checked baggage
- Traveler’s checks, tickets of any kind (e.g., for airlines, sporting events, concerts, or lottery), passport, visas, negotiable instruments, bullion, rare, or precious metals, stamps, and coins, currency or its equivalent
All baggage delay policies from every provider we looked at offer secondary coverage, meaning they will only reimburse costs not covered by the carrier or another travel insurance policy.
How to File a Baggage Delay Claim
To file a Baggage Delay claim, you’ll need to supply documentation to support your claim, which may include:
- Completed claim form
- A copy of the itinerary with all passengers listed
- Confirmation of the Baggage Delay from the carrier plus a copy of the settlement/denial from the carrier (you must get this before you leave the airport)
- Credit card statement that shows the charge for your common carrier travel
- Receipts for purchased items
Citi provides the largest claim window, and also the longest window in which to submit supporting documents.
- Citi – Provides 60 days for you to lodge a claim, with all supporting documents submitted within 180 days.
- Chase – Need to file a claim within 20 days of the delay, and all supporting documents supplied within 90 days.
- Barclays – Need to file a claim within 20 days of the delay, and all supporting documents supplied within 90 days.
To file a claim, either call your Benefits Administrator or visit the listed website.
- 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.
- Barclays – Call the Claims Administrator on 1-855-830-3721, and once supplied a claim number visit MyClaimsAgent.com to submit supporting documents.
Turning up at your destination only to find your bags have arrived elsewhere can be a real hassle. However, with the right credit card, you can have the cost of essential items reimbursed, reducing the out of pocket expense and taking the sting out of an unfortunate situation. Just be sure to call the Benefits Administrator to clarify exactly what's covered, as policies differ widely between cards, even cards from the same provider.
If you’ve got a Baggage Delay success story you’d like to share, be sure to let us know in the comments.
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