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One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about how points and miles have helped them get where they want to go. Each week I pick one that catches my eye and post it for everybody to enjoy. If you’re interested in sharing your own award travel success story, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. If we publish it, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure!
Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Chris, who got outsized value from a credit card benefit after bad weather derailed his itinerary. Here’s what he had to say:
My wife and I were scheduled to fly from Chicago to St. Lucia for our honeymoon this summer. Since nonstop flights from O’Hare are only offered seasonally, we had to stop in Charlotte on our way. We had a layover of nearly two hours, which should have given us sufficient time to transfer planes, but some uncooperative weather in Chicago that morning led to our flight being delayed by about three hours.
This caused us to miss our connecting flight in Charlotte — the only flight that day to St. Lucia. American Airlines kindly booked us on the same flight for the following day, so the first night of our honeymoon was to be spent in Charlotte instead. We arrived there around 11:00am, so we had all day and night to occupy ourselves.
Because I had paid for the honeymoon package via AAA with my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, I decided to forego the extra insurance offered by AAA and utilize the trip delay coverage on the Sapphire Preferred. Once our flight was delayed, I called and got confirmation that we were eligible for up to $500 per person, per night to cover our hotel, transportation, food, medicine, etc. We just had to make sure to save all receipts.
We ended up spending around $275 for the hotel, meals and Lyfts to and from the airport. This was covered without any issue, and we ended up having fun in Charlotte as it was the first time traveling there for both of us.
The icing on the cake was that benefit services even agreed to cover the cost of the first night that we missed in St. Lucia, since we were staying at an all-inclusive property. That added $370 on top of the expenses they covered from our time in Charlotte, so we’re getting back a total of $645.
This is above and beyond the $95 annual fee that I’m about to be charged since I’m coming up on a full year with this card. I was already planning to keep this card, but thanks to this benefit, I can say for sure say that the only way I’d get rid of it is if I upgrade to the Sapphire Reserve!
We write a lot about the sign-up bonuses and high-end perks offered by rewards credit cards, but this story is a great example of the value you can get out of secondary benefits. Most premium and second-tier cards come with coverage for travel woes like baggage delays and medical emergencies. You hope to never need these perks, but you’ll be glad to have them when you do, and you should account for them when you’re deciding whether to keep or cancel a card.
Most cards cap trip delay coverage at $500 per ticket, but there’s a wide range in the length of delay required before the benefit applies. For example, the Sapphire Preferred card and many others require a delay of at least 12 hours. In comparison, delay coverage kicks in after six hours with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and just three hours with several Citi cards (such as the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard). You’re only covered when you use the card to purchase your ticket, so take the risk of delay into consideration the next time you’re buying airfare.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Chris for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you.
Again, if the strategies you’ve learned here have helped you fly in first class, score an amazing suite, reach a far-flung destination or even just save a few dollars, please indulge me and the whole TPG team by emailing us with your own success stories (see instructions at the top of this post). Feel free to also submit stories of your most egregious travel mistakes. In either case, you’ll have our utmost appreciation, along with some extra spending money for your next trip.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Featured image by Jaromir Chalabala / EyeEm via Getty Images.
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