The Best Credit Cards With Travel Protections

Nov 7, 2018

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Some credit cards offer travel protections that can save you significant money if something goes wrong. For example, the travel protection benefits provided with select cards can reimburse you for expenses when your baggage is lost or delayed, when you’re stranded overnight due to a flight delay or cancellation or when you have to return home to handle a family medical emergency.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of booking a trip and forget to use the credit card that provides the best trade-off between earning points and getting the protections you might need. So, this guide compares the earning and protections provided by six of the top cards for travel purchases. Three of these cards even have annual fees of less than $100.

Since most, but not all, travel protections are related to common carrier travel — such as planes, trains and buses — this guide focuses on the protections related to these purchases. Unless otherwise noted, you’ll need to put some of the common carrier fare on your card in order to be eligible for the card’s protections.

Photo by Brian A Jackson/Getty Images
Photo by Brian A Jackson/Getty Images

In This Post

What Travel Protections Are Offered?

Travel rewards credit cards often offer the following types of travel protections. See the links below for more information on these types of protection as well as the best cards for each type of protection.

The types and levels of protection vary across credit cards. So, in the remainder of this guide I consider the merits — and missing protections — of the following travel credit cards that earn transferable currencies.

Card Bonus for Airfare Purchases/Return Based on TPG Valuations Protection Notes Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve 3x points/6% Good protection in all areas, biggest flaw is low limit for high-risk items under the lost/damaged baggage protection $450
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 2x points/4% Weaker across the board than the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but good enough for most situations $95
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card 3x points/6% Weaker across the board than the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but good enough for most situations $95
The Platinum Card® from American Express 5x points/10% Doesn’t offer trip delay, baggage delay or trip cancellation/interruption protections $550 (See Rates & Fees)

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve became my go-to card for travel expenses. This card offers 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on all travel and dining purchases. Based on TPG’s latest valuations this means an effective 6% return on travel and dining purchases. Due to this return and the card’s excellent travel protections, I purchase most of my flights using my Sapphire Reserve.

Protection Details
Baggage delay Up to $100 reimbursed per day for up to 5 days if your baggage is delayed more than 6 hours
Lost/damaged baggage $3,000 per passenger, but only $500 per passenger for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment
Trip delay reimbursement Up to $500 per ticket if you’re delayed more than 6 hours or require an overnight stay
Trip cancellation and interruption protection Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses
Medical evacuation benefit Up to $100,000 for medical services and transportation in the case of emergency evacuation when on a trip of five to 60 days and traveling more than 100 miles from home
Travel accident insurance Accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $1,000,000
Emergency medical and dental benefit Up to $2,500 for medical expenses when on a trip more than 100 miles from home

For more information on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, check out the following articles:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best credit cards for infrequent travelers because it provides solid earning at home and on vacation. You’ll earn 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases. This 4% return on travel purchases is the worst of the cards discussed in this guide, but it’s not bad considering the card’s modest $95 annual fee and decent travel protections.

Protection Details
Baggage delay Up to $100 reimbursed per day for up to 5 days if your baggage is delayed more than 6 hours
Lost/damaged baggage $3,000 per passenger, but only $500 per passenger for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment
Trip delay reimbursement Up to $500 per ticket if you’re delayed more than 12 hours or require an overnight stay
Trip cancellation and interruption protection Up to $10,000 per trip for your prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses
Medical evacuation benefit Not offered
Travel accident insurance Accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000
Emergency medical and dental benefit Not offered

For more information on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, check out the following articles:

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is a business credit card, but none of the travel protections require the purpose of the trip to be business. This card provides similar travel protections to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but it offers better travel earning in the form of 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare and everything else that Chase includes in its travel classification.

Photo by Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Image
Photo by Hinterhaus Productions/ Getty Images

 

Protection Details
Baggage delay Up to $100 reimbursed per day for up to 5 days if your baggage is delayed more than 6 hours
Lost/damaged baggage Up to $3,000 per passenger, but only up to $500 per passenger for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment
Trip delay reimbursement Up to $500 per ticket if you’re delayed more than 12 hours or require an overnight stay
Trip cancellation and interruption protection Up to $5,000 per trip for your prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses
Medical evacuation benefit Not offered
Travel accident insurance Accidental death or dismemberment coverage of up to $500,000
Emergency medical and dental benefit Not offered

For more information on the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, check out the following articles:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Platinum provides an impressive 5x points for airfare booked directly through the airline or through Amex Travel and 5x points on hotels booked through Amex Travel. Using TPG’s latest valuations, this means you’ll get a 10% return on these purchases. But, there’s a reason I use The Platinum Card as a membership card and not a card for booking flights: the travel protections provided with the card are very limited.

Protection Details
Baggage delay Not offered
Lost/damaged baggage Up to $3,000 per traveler, but only $1,000 per traveler for high-risk items, must pay entire fare with your card and/or Membership Rewards points
Trip delay reimbursement Not offered
Trip cancellation and interruption protection Not offered
Medical evacuation benefit Offered with no cap on trips of less than 90 days but excludes pre-existing conditions, no requirement to put any trip expenses on your card
Travel accident insurance Up to $500,000 per person, must pay entire fare with your card and/or Membership Rewards points
Emergency medical and dental benefit Not offered

For more information on the Amex Platinum, check out the following articles:

Bottom Line

Many travelers love The Platinum Card’s impressive 5x points for airfare booked directly through airlines — until their bags get delayed or weather cancels their flights. Sure, points and miles serve as a great insurance policy, but I’d rather save these rewards and instead utilize the excellent travel protections that come simply by using my Chase Sapphire Reserve when booking flights and other common carrier travel. Or, if you can’t quite justify the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $450 annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card also provides good travel protections for just a $95 annual fee.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here.   

Featured photo by mikkelwilliam/Getty Images

2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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