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Warning: Book carefully if you have multiple Amex cards that offer travel protections

Jan. 29, 2020
7 min read
Warning: Book carefully if you have multiple Amex cards that offer travel protections
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When American Express announced that it would be adding trip delay and trip cancellation and interruption insurance to select cards effective Jan 1, 2020, many cardholders were thrilled. Finally, select Amex cards would offer travel protections that might sway cardholders to use an Amex card instead of other cards with extensive travel protections, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Related reading: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum: Which is better for airfare purchases?

As a reminder, the following Amex cards now offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance as well as trip delay insurance when you're delayed by a covered reason for six hours or more:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express (and some of its varieties)
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
  • Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
  • American Express Corporate Platinum Card
  • Amex Centurion Card, Amex Business Centurion Card and Amex Corporate Centurion Card

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

And the following cards offer trip delay insurance when you're delayed by a covered reason for more than 12 hours:

  • American Express® Gold Card
  • American Express® Business Gold Card
  • American Express® Green Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card

The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related reading: What you should know about the trip cancellation and interruption protection offered by select credit cards

As with any credit card benefit, it's important to read the guide to benefits for your card so you know the details of the benefits offered. Luckily, American Express conveniently provides links to the guide to benefits for all eligible cards online. In these guides, Amex defines a covered trip as:

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A period of round-trip travel to one or more destinations other than an Eligible Traveler’s city of residence at the time of departure where: (1) The Eligible Traveler departs by Common Carrier to begin the period of round-trip travel; (2) the period of round-trip travel ends when the Eligible Traveler returns by Common Carrier to the city of departure; (3) the period of round-trip travel does not exceed three hundred sixty-five (365) days away from the Eligible Traveler’s city of residence at the time of departure; and (4) the Eligible Traveler charges the full amount of the cost of transportation by Common Carrier(s) to your Eligible Card. The period of round-trip travel may consist of roundtrip, one-way, or combinations of roundtrip and one-way tickets with Common Carrier(s)
You may be eligible for select travel protections when you book round-trip common carrier travel with your Amex Platinum Card. (Photo by The Points Guy)

However, in studying the guide to benefits, some cardholders noticed potential limitations. For example, the guide to benefits requires that "the full amount of the Eligible Traveler’s cost of transportation by Common Carrier(s) is charged to your Eligible Card." Luckily, the guide to benefits further specifies:

You must charge the full amount of a Covered Trip to your Eligible Card or in combination with your Eligible Card and accumulated points on your Eligible Card or redeemable certificates, vouchers, coupons, or discounts awarded from a frequent flyer program or similar program.

A few cardholders — myself included — also wondered how Amex's new travel protections would work when paying for travel with multiple eligible Amex cards. For example, you may want to use The Platinum Card from American Express to earn five Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel, and then use the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express to earn 14 Hilton points per dollar spent on an eligible Hilton stay.

Related reading: Why you might want to get a premium credit card instead of purchasing travel insurance

My initial reading of the guide to benefits — which is the same for both cards — was that trip cancellation and interruption insurance would cover the Hilton stay in the case of an eligible event that canceled or interrupted your trip. After all, coverage is provided when you "charge the full amount of a Covered Trip to your Eligible Card or in combination with your Eligible Card and accumulated points on your Eligible Card or redeemable certificates, vouchers, coupons, or discounts awarded from a frequent flyer program or similar program" and an eligible card is defined as "a U.S. issued American Express Card that is eligible for coverage under the Group Policy."

However, to be sure my reading of the guide to benefits was correct while writing this piece, I reached out to Amex. I was disappointed when a spokeswoman informed me that only expenses on the card used for common carrier travel would be eligible:

Although both cards may be eligible for the benefit, coverage is only activated on the card that was used to purchase the Covered Trip. Any subsequent purchases to a different card would not be covered.

So, if you want to be protected by Amex's trip delay protection, make sure to charge all of your common carrier fares to a single eligible card. And, if you're looking to be protected by Amex's trip interruption and cancellation insurance, make sure you use one eligible card for your common carrier fares and any non-refundable travel expenses with tour operators, innkeepers and resorts.

Of course, you can use a card with higher earnings to book refundable travel expenses or those that you are okay forfeiting — but you'll likely want to put most non-refundable expenses on the eligible Amex card that you used for your round-trip common carrier fares.

Related reading:

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Featured image by (Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

5X points
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 Points
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees