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Lost and damaged luggage when traveling can be a major inconvenience. Whether your bag turns up at the carousel sporting fresh battle scars, or worse yet, doesn't turn up at all, it means time wasted reporting to the airline, filling out forms, and in the case of lost luggage, the loss of your bag and its contents.

luggage-conveyor
Not the sight you want to see when awaiting your bags at the Luggage Carousel

While aircraft safety is top notch, the same can’t be said for your bags, which tend to endure much harsher treatment than their owners (even with some overtly bad customer service issues). Alongside travel delays, lost and damaged luggage is far and away the most common issue passengers' face when traveling by air. Moreover, although the number of lost or damaged bags fell by over 7% according to SITA’s 2017 report, that still amounts to a staggering 21.6 million bags that didn’t make it to their destination intact.

If you’re one of the unlucky millions that find yourself sans-bag when you arrive at your destination, the knowledge you paid for your flight with a credit card featuring Lost Luggage Reimbursement can take the sting out of an unfortunate situation.

The list we've put together doesn't cover every card providing Lost Luggage Protection which would require a list dozens of cards long. Instead, we’ve broken down the coverage by credit card network and recorded some of the specifics for each provider.

What is Lost Luggage Reimbursement and How Does it Work?

Lost Luggage Reimbursement covers the cost to repair or replace your luggage, and the personal belongings contained within if your bag is lost or damaged during a covered trip.

What constitutes a covered trip differs between credit card providers, but for the most part covers airline, train, bus, and marine transport charged to your eligible credit card. Lost Luggage insurance is secondary to any reimbursement from the airline or travel provider, typically covers both your checked and carry-on baggage, and coverage lasts from the moment you check-in to the time you pick up your bags at the other end of your journey and walk out of the terminal.

As an example of how the policies and exclusions differ between providers, we’ve collated Lost Luggage protection policy details provided on World Mastercard, Visa Infinite (the benefit is also included on select Visa Signature cards), and American Express cards below.

Visa Lost Luggage Policy

Lost Luggage insurance is one of the seemingly endless benefits provided on Visa Infinite cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and also features on select Visa Signature cards such as the Sapphire Preferred and United℠ Explorer Card. Visa covers up to $3,000.00 per person per trip ($2,000 for New York residents), which includes up to $500 for high-risk items like jewelry, watches, electronics, and cameras.

Mastercard Lost Luggage Policy

Mastercard offers Lost Baggage Protection on many of its World and World Elite Mastercard products, including Citi’s popular Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and Citi Prestige® Card. Similar to the Visa coverage above, the Mastercard Policy covers up to $3,000 per person per trip (again, $2,000 for New York residents), up to a total of $10,000 for all covered travelers per trip.

American Express Lost Luggage Policy

Baggage Insurance is one of the few travel protection perks provided on almost the entire range of business and consumer Amex cards, with cover offered on 40+ cards including low and no annual fee cards like The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express and Hilton Honors American Express Card. To qualify for Baggage Insurance, the entire cost of the fare must be paid for using your Amex card, Membership Rewards Points, or the Amex Pay with Points program, and the terms specifically exclude tickets paid with points from another program or using gift cards or vouchers. Amex offers different tiers of Baggage Insurance depending on the card you hold, for example:

Gold card coverage includes:

  • Up to $1,250 per person for carry-on baggage
  • Up to $500 per person for checked baggage
  • Maximum benefit of $250 on high-risk items such as jewelry, sporting equipment, electronics, etc
  • Claims cannot exceed $1,250 per person total per covered trip

Platinum card coverage includes:

  • Up to $3,000 per person for carry-on baggage
  • Up to $2,000 per person for checked baggage
  • Maximum benefit of $1,000 on high-risk items such as jewelry, sporting equipment, electronics, etc
  • Claims cannot exceed $3,000 per person total per covered trip

If you want to know what level of coverage your Amex card offers, head to the Retail and Travel Benefits page on the Amex website, click on Eligible Cards button under Baggage Insurance Plan, and you’ll find a full list of Amex cards and the coverage they provide.

What Items Are Not Covered By Lost Luggage Protection?

Lost Luggage policies typically cover both your checked bags and carry-on luggage and their contents, but each card also features a bunch of excluded items. The lists below aren’t exhaustive, so confirm the details of your particular card with your Benefits Administrator.

  • Chase – Documents or valuable papers, money, securities, tickets, checks, traveler’s checks or furs
  • Citi – Antiques and collector’s items, traveler’s checks, tickets, passport, visas, negotiable instruments, bullion, rare, or precious metals, stamps, and coins, currency or its equivalent
  • Amex – Cash, cards, and equivalents, travel documents including passports and visas, securities, tickets and documents, living plants and consumables, eyewear, medical aids or items.

Something to be aware of before pulling out your card to pay for a fare is that some cards offering Lost Luggage Protection require you to charge the entire fare to the card to qualify for coverage, whereas others cover you when you pay with points or miles, provided you earn the rewards within a program administered by that provider.

For example, Chase covers Sapphire Reserve cardholders if “some portion of the fare for transportation has been charged to your Account issued by Chase Bank USA” or “when free flights have been awarded from frequent flier or Rewards programs, provided that all of the miles or Rewards points were accumulated from a Rewards program sponsored by Chase Bank USA.” You could pay for an award ticket with United MileagePlus miles, pay the taxes/fees with your Sapphire Reserve, and you’d still qualify for Lost Luggage coverage.

Final Thoughts

Free travel and aspirational redemptions are the poster-perks for most members of the points and miles community, but acquiring an intimate knowledge of your credit card perks and benefits can also provide a lot of value, particularly when travel doesn’t entirely go as planned.

It’s common knowledge that top-tier rewards cards like the Prestige Card and the Sapphire Reserve provide exceptional travel protections including lost/damaged baggage cover, but the benefit also features on mid-tier cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and ThankYou Premier, which offer top-class Lost Luggage Protection on par with their premium stablemates.

Which Credit Cards Offer Lost or Damaged Luggage Protection? (Updated August 2018)
5 (100%) 4 votes
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Comments

  • good overview of details

  • ron_vaughn@hotmail.com says:

    good tips. thx

  • The travel protection perk on credit cards was something I hadn’t given much consideration of until I read a nightmare story from one traveller recently, basically the card protection perk saved the day.

  • Maryjane says:

    This is certainly something that comes in handy and many people forget that it is available. The restrictions, particularly on the Amex card, could make it difficult to qualify. The Sapphire Reserve again comes out ahead in this case. That being said, I find there are many benefits to not checking luggage at all. I only carry a small bag that fits under the seat for all my travels (business or vacation) so I don’t even have to worry about overhead bin space. It takes a while to learn to travel like this, but it is very liberating when you achieve it.

    • deerseason says:

      Until we have a kid, we continue to travel with carry-ons only, which continues to be a far better scenario overall than checking luggage. Funnily enough the rest of my family always check luggage and take full advantage of the benefit if/when their luggage is lost or delayed. Not worth the hassle in my opinion.

    • “I find there are many benefits to not checking luggage at all.” Totally agree: simplicity, speed, savings, peace of mind, sheer weight, etc. Having said all that, there are certainly times it’s impossible, so this is a good article to keep on file for when those do arise.

  • Great summary of all the providers. Luckily have never had to use this type of coverage and I hope I never do.

  • Great for that 1 time it happens. Trust me. Been there.

  • Jacqueline says:

    Only recently delved deeper into the full benefits on some of the leading cards out there, this type of protection perk is invaluable

  • Good overview, thanks.

  • charles j says:

    Thanks. I would have never contemplated that carry on is covered. (I would only check luggage if I had to, like if TSA person had an issue with something I was carrying on, which I never had, and I can then just go, check it, using either the first bag free card or a airline incidentals fee rebate card. I’m going to have to look into this, and which card to use that covers this when using miles and paying only the taxes and fees.

  • Bertrand Say says:

    I wish there is coverage also for those who did not charge their whole ticket price on the credit card. For example those who use miles to book trips are not covered.

  • Air Flyer says:

    What about the Mastercards from Capital One? Are those different?

  • What about FFP redemptions with taxes paid for by one of these cards?

  • Sebastian says:

    Never happened to me till now – and hope it won’t happen at all! But if, im happy with my Amex!

  • Great tips! Thanks.

  • Whenever I can I only bring a roll-on and never, ever check a bag if I can help it. I also try every trick in the book to not gate check a bag. I do not want to ever have to utilize any of these samples

  • Rosemarie says:

    Good info to know. Glad I read it!

  • Has anyone had issues making claims for a second time if you were unlucky enough to have this happen to you? Sometimes, I hold off from making smaller claims because I am worried if it happens with more valuable things later, I would be out of luck. Maybe it depends upon the card and the annual fee?

  • great protection! just gotta remember to use the right card to book the flight.

  • I must be lucky but this has never happened to me thankfully!

  • Thanks for the article. Never used such benefits and hope I never have to.

  • Lost luggage has never been a problem for me…but damaged, yes. Can you clarify when and how that is used?

  • I always buy separate trip insurance. Maybe it’s no longer necessary with all this credit card coverage these days.

  • Thanks, it’s good to know about these credit card benefits. My favorite (not mentioned in this post) is rental car insurance.

  • As a traveller with a lot of expensive sporting gear, baggage insurance is great for the peace of mind.

    • You might want to specifically look at an insurance policy to cover your gear based on the replacement cost of your gear — I don’t know what type of equipment you have but if the value is more than $3,000, you’ll want a separate policy.

  • Thankfully I haven’t needed to avail myself of these benefits, an frankly was unfamiliar with them, but it’s reassuring to know I’ve been doing the right thing by charging my travel to my Sapphire Reserve,, just in case!

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