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What your credit card's trip protection covers — and what it doesn't

Aug. 07, 2021
5 min read
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When things go awry, you'll thank yourself later when you have travel insurance. Thankfully, many rewards credit cards offer complimentary protections as long as you pay for prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses with the card, giving you peace of mind when you embark on your journey.

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Let's take for example the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, a popular travel rewards card with a reasonable $95 annual fee. Among all of its great travel benefits, it also comes with trip cancellation and interruption insurance, along with trip delay reimbursement, with a substantial level of coverage that may prevent the need for you to buy separate travel insurance.

We're often asked if these credit card trip protections will cover the price of a new flight in the event of a delay or cancellation. More broadly, we'll discuss what's covered (and isn't covered) so that you can manage your expectations on your upcoming trip. For the purposes of this guide, I'll continue to use the Chase Sapphire Preferred as the example, but be sure to read the fine print for your credit card's specific terms on trip insurance.

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance

(Photo by Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

First, let's quickly go over trip cancellation and interruption insurance, as outlined by Chase:

"If your trip is cancelled or cut short by sickness, severe weather and other covered situations, you can be reimbursed up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for your pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours, and hotels."

At first, that $10,000 limit per person (or $20,000 per trip) seems quite high, but in reality, it's unlikely that you'll max out — or even get close to maxing out — this benefit.

Then, it goes on to state that "reimbursement can be provided for prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses including passenger fares, tours and hotels." If the airline, hotel or tour operator does not refund you for your prepaid travel expenses, that's when you can file a claim under trip cancellation and interruption insurance to get reimbursed for these costs.

The key words here are prepaid and non-refundable, meaning you won't get reimbursed for any new travel accommodations made because of the cancellation or interruption.

Related: How I used Chase’s trip cancellation coverage to recoup $800 in non-refundable airfare

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Trip delay reimbursement

(Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

The terms are similar for trip delay reimbursement on the Chase Sapphire Preferred:

"If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket."

As with the trip cancellation and interruption insurance, the trip delay policy only offers reimbursement for specific expenses, which are outlined as "reasonable additional expenses incurred for meals, lodging, toiletries, medication and other personal use items due to the covered delay." Therefore, you can expect to get reimbursement for essential items that you have to purchase as a result of the delay, such as meals or an overnight hotel stay.

However, this does not mean you can buy a new flight on a different carrier and get reimbursed.

Related: Here’s what to do if your flight is delayed or canceled

Will trip insurance cover the cost of the new flight?

(Image by Caiaimage/Chris Ryan / Getty Images)

If you've made it this far, you probably can infer the answer to this question. In short, the answer is no. Whether you file a claim under trip cancellation and interruption insurance or trip delay reimbursement, you will not get reimbursed for new airfare. That means, if you buy a $100 United flight that gets canceled (or delayed), and you end up purchasing another $300 flight on Delta instead, neither card protections will cover the cost of new airfare.

I recently learned this the hard way on my solo trip to Europe. I'll save you the long story, but my flight from Italy to Greece was canceled, forcing me to rebook and thus reroute myself through an airport two hours away. After buying a new flight, hopping on a bus and waiting patiently in the terminal for the next flight, I tried filing a claim with with my Chase Sapphire Preferred.

(Screenshot courtesy of Eclaimsline)

This may seem frustrating, but you'll still get reimbursed for prepaid, nonrefundable expenses with trip cancellation and interruption insurance.

Bottom line

It's great that many travel credit cards come with benefits such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance and trip delay reimbursement, but it's important to read the terms to see what exactly these benefits will cover. While these protections may be sufficient for most travelers, those who want higher coverages should seriously consider buying travel insurance that offers more protection or "cancel for any reason" coverage.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
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.

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  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

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10XEarn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
5XEarn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
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    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

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  • Annual Fee

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  • 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.

    Fair/Good

Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

Pros

  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees