Comparing the Baggage Insurance of Premium Travel Cards
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While the ban on large electronics in the cabin on flights to the US from select destinations in Africa and the Middle East has largely been lifted, there may still be instances where you need to check laptops and other valuables in your luggage. Perhaps you're traveling to the UK from one of several destinations in the Middle East, or maybe you just don't have enough room in your carry-on to stow the new gadgets you're bringing home as presents for the holidays.
You'll naturally want to take extra precautions with your laptop, tablet, e-reader or any other valuables you check in your baggage. You may want to consider purchasing a luggage tracker that keeps you abreast of your bag's location throughout its journey from check-in to baggage claim. Of course, taking steps to prevent your baggage from going missing can only get you so far. Ultimately, the handling of your checked luggage is out of your control the moment you hand it over at the airport, which opens your belongings up to the possibility of loss or damage. The good news is that several travel rewards credit cards offer coverage in the event that your checked baggage goes missing.
For all the cards mentioned below, note that you need to pay for at least a portion of your itinerary with the card in question to be eligible for coverage if an item is lost or damaged (and in some cases you need to pay for the entire itinerary using the card or its associated loyalty currency). Additionally, you'll want to make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully, since most cards' policies have several exceptions and various limitations, along with differing processes for actually filing a claim and getting compensation.
Also, note that, in many cases, electronics fall under issuers' definition of "high-risk items," meaning they're eligible for a lower limit of coverage. With the Platinum Card® from American Express, for instance, if your laptop is lost or damaged in checked luggage, you'll only get up to $250 in coverage, as opposed to up to $2,000 for items outside of the "high-risk" category.
Finally, note that most cards offer secondary lost luggage coverage, meaning that the issuer will only cover losses in excess of what the airline itself might reimburse you — so definitely check with the carrier as well.
Premium Cards' Lost Baggage Coverage
Quite a few travel rewards credit cards offer some degree of baggage insurance, but below we're focusing on the premium options that offer the most extensive coverage. For example, many Amex cards, such as the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, offer up to $500 in replacement costs for checked bags and their contents, but the more premium Platinum Card from American Express covers up to $2,000 per person for checked bags. Of course, that card comes with a much higher annual fee too (and the $2,000 coverage amount doesn't apply to electronics), but it could be worth it if you factor in its impressive benefits package, in addition to its more generous coverage.
|Card||Checked Bag Coverage||High-Risk Items Coverage||How to Be Eligible for Coverage|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Up to $3,000 for each covered person per covered trip||Up to $500 per covered person per covered trip for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment||You travel on a common carrier and charge some portion of the fare to your card or pay for some portion of the fare with Ultimate Rewards points.|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Up to $3,000 for each covered person per covered trip||Up to $500 per covered person per covered trip for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment||You travel on a common carrier and charge some portion of the fare to your card or pay for some portion of the fare with Ultimate Rewards points.|
|Citi Prestige||Up to $3,000 for each covered person per covered trip (up to $2,000 per bag for New York residents)||N/A||Your Citi card and/or ThankYou points must be used to purchase at least a portion of the common carrier fare.|
|Platinum Card from American Express||Up to $2,000 for each covered person per covered trip||Up to $250 per covered person for jewelry, sporting equipment, photographic or electronic equipment and computers and audio/visual equipment||You charge the entire common carrier fare to your Amex card or you use Membership Rewards points.|
As you can see, most of the cards' policies include electronics under its definition of "high-risk" items, so they're not eligible for as much coverage as non-restricted items in the event that they do get damaged or go missing. Luckily, the Citi Prestige's benefits guide lists no such lower coverage limit for more expensive items like electronics. So that means you should get up to $3,000 (or up to $2,000 per bag if you're a New York resident) in coverage on an eligible itinerary — closer to what the repair or replacement cost of a laptop will likely be.
It's good to know that various travel rewards cards offer some level of coverage to help compensate you if a big-ticket item is damaged or goes missing. Still, given the restrictions of most of these lost baggage policies, we'd love to see carriers increase their checked baggage coverage as well.