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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.
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.
Lost Luggage insurance is one of the seemingly endless benefits provided on Visa Infinite cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and United Club℠ Infinite Card and also features on select Visa Signature cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 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 offers Lost Baggage Protection on many of its World and World Elite Mastercard products. 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.
Baggage Insurance is provided on many business and consumer Amex cards, with the cover offered on 40+ cards including some low and no-annual-fee cards like the 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
- 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.
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 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, which offer top-class Lost Luggage Protection on par with their premium stablemates.
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