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

Oct 31, 2019

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No one expects their trip to be cancelled or interrupted. But, sometimes things happen. Perhaps a family member is suddenly hospitalized, you’re called to jury duty and you can’t postpone it or you have an emergency that makes your house uninhabitable.

Generally, you’d lose any pre-paid, nonrefundable expenses such as hotels, flights and tours if you decide not to go on a trip, regardless of the reason you cancel.  You’d also generally be on the hook for change fees and other arrangements if you need to return home early.

But if you pay for your trip with select credit cards, you might be covered. One credit card benefit many people overlook is trip cancellation and interruption protection. This benefit provides reimbursement for non-refundable, prepaid trip expenses when a trip must be canceled or altered due to a covered situation. Covered situations, maximum coverage amounts and eligible expenses vary across the cards that offer this benefit. This guide presents some of the best trip cancellation and interruption protection benefits offered by select credit cards.

In This Post

Best credit cards for trip cancellation and interruption protection

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: Excellent all-around travel protections and earning, and up to $10,000 per covered person with a maximum of $20,000 per trip
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Excellent all-around travel protections and up to $10,000 per covered person with a maximum of $20,000 per trip — all with a sub-$100 annual fee
  • IHG  Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card: Up to $5,000 per covered person with a maximum of $10,000 per trip for no annual fee
  • Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa credit card: A non-Chase card with a sub-$100 annual fee that provides up to $5,000 per person in coverage that will cover a wide range of non-refundable expenses
  • JetBlue Plus Card: Sub-$100 annual fee card with up to $5,000 per insured person; explicitly covers return home or flight to resume itinerary but doesn’t cover one-way travel without a return destination

These cards are all highlighted for the reasons provided, but there are many other cards that offer trip cancellation and interruption protection. The best card for you to use when paying for a trip depends on many factors: the cost of your trip, whether paying with a specific card gets you benefits with the travel provider, the earnings provided by the card and more.

Related: The best travel credit cards of 2019

What is trip cancellation and trip interruption protection?

Generally, trip cancellation insurance provides reimbursement when a trip must be cancelled before its departure date and trip interruption insurance provides reimbursement when an ongoing trip is interrupted or cancelled.

Although you can often buy travel insurance that will provide a refund if you cancel your trip for any reason, credit card trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance doesn’t work in the same way. Card-provided insurance has specific covered losses and exclusions that define the situations in which you can claim reimbursement — and these vary from card to card.

Many different types of cards — including some credit cards with no annual fee — offer trip cancellation and interruption benefits. The remainder of this guide details some of our favorite cards and issuers that offer trip cancellation and interruption benefits, as well as some cards that will be adding this benefit very soon. (Of course, benefits change frequently so it’s best to take a look at your card’s guide to benefits to ensure you understand the protections it provides.)

(Photo by Beatrix Boros/Stocksy)
If you book travel with the right card, you’ll be covered if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip for covered reasons. This effectively puts cash back in your wallet. (Photo by Beatrix Boros/Stocksy)

Premium Chase credit cards

The Chase credit cards in the table below provide trip cancellation and interruption insurance with relatively high maximum coverage amounts.

Credit card Coverage amount Annual fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve Up to $10,000 per covered person with a maximum of $20,000 per trip $450
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Up to $10,000 per covered person with a maximum of $20,000 per trip $95
United Club Card Up to $10,000 per covered person with a maximum of $20,000 per trip $450
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card (no longer accepting applications) Up to $10,000 per covered person with a maximum of $20,000 per trip $450
United Explorer Business Card Up to $10,000 per covered person with a maximum of $20,000 per trip $95
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card Up to $5,000 per covered person with a maximum of $10,000 per trip $89
IHG  Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card Up to $5,000 per covered person with a maximum of $10,000 per trip $0
The World of Hyatt Credit Card Up to $5,000 per trip $95
The Hyatt Credit Card (no longer available) Up to $5,000 per trip $75
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card Up to $5,000 per trip $95

The information for the United Club, IHG Rewards Premier, and United TravelBank has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

When you use one of the above credit cards to pay for a prepaid tour, trip or vacation, you and your immediate family will be covered when:

  • Some portion of the cost has been charged to your Chase credit card
  • The destination is more than one mile from your primary residence
  • The trip will not exceed 60 days in duration

If you used Chase Ultimate Rewards to pay for part or all of the trip, you’ll be reimbursed the monetary value of the redemption or $0.01 per point if the value doesn’t appear on your itinerary or confirmation.

However, you’ll only be eligible for reimbursement if one of the following events causes cancellation or interruption of your travel arrangements:

  • Accidental bodily injury, death or sickness experienced by you, a traveling companion or an immediate family member of you or a traveling companion
  • Severe weather that prevents a reasonable and prudent person from beginning or continuing on a covered trip
  • Change in military orders for you, your spouse or your domestic partner
  • A terrorist action or hijacking
  • A call to jury duty or receiving a subpoena from the courts, neither of which can be postponed or waived
  • Finding you or your traveling companion’s dwelling to be uninhabitable
  • Quarantine imposed by a physician for health reasons
  • Financial insolvency of the travel agency, tour operator or travel supplier whose services you booked
CRAIG, MISSOURI - MARCH 22: Floodwater surrounds a farm on March 22, 2019 near Craig, Missouri. Midwest states are battling some of the worst floodings they have experienced in decades as rain and snowmelt from the recent "bomb cyclone" has inundated rivers and streams. At least three deaths have been linked to the flooding. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
If your home floods and is considered uninhabitable, you may be able to cancel or interrupt your trip and be reimbursed. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

For trip cancellation, you won’t be eligible for reimbursement if any of the following directly or indirectly cause the trip cancellation:

  • Travel arrangements canceled or changed by a common carrier, tour operator or any travel agency — unless the cancellation is the result of severe weather or an organized strike affecting public transportation
  • Change in plans, financial circumstances and any business or contractual obligations applying to you, your traveling companion, your immediate family member or an immediate family member of your traveling companion
  • A pre-existing condition
  • Any accident, accidental bodily injury or loss caused by or resulting from, directly or indirectly: the commission or attempted commission of any illegal act including but not limited to any felony
  • Any occurrence during incarceration
  • Being engaged in or participating in a motorized vehicular race or speed contest
  • Participating in any professional sporting activity for which a salary or prize money is received
  • Traveling or flying on any aircraft engaged in flight on a rocket-propelled or rocket-launched aircraft
  • Suicide, attempted suicide or intentionally self-inflicted injury
  • When: a) the U.S. has imposed any trade or economic sanctions prohibiting insurance of any accident, accidental bodily injury or loss; or b) there is any other legal prohibition against providing insurance for any accident, accidental bodily injury or loss
  • A declared or undeclared war

For trip interruption, you won’t be eligible for reimbursement if any of the following by you or your traveling companion directly or indirectly caused the trip interruption:

  • Traveling against the advice of a physician
  • Traveling while on a waiting list for specified medical treatment
  • Traveling for the purpose of obtaining medical treatment; or traveling in the third trimester (seventh month or after) of pregnancy
  • Traveling with a pre-existing condition
  • Commission or attempted commission of any illegal act including but not limited to any felony
  • Being engaged in or participating in a motorized vehicular race or speed contest
  • Participating in any professional sporting activity for which the insured person received a salary or prize money
  • Traveling or flying on any aircraft engaged in flight on a rocket-propelled or rocket-launched aircraft
  • Suicide, attempted suicide or intentionally self-inflicted injury
  • Additionally, any accident, accidental bodily injury or loss caused by or resulting from, directly or indirectly:
    • Common carrier-caused delays, unless they are as a result of an organized strike that affects public transportation
    • Travel arrangements canceled or changed by a common carrier, tour operator or any travel agent unless the cancellation is the result of severe weather or an organized strike affecting public transportation
    • Change in plans, financial circumstances and any business or contractual obligations of the insured person, traveling companion, immediate family member of the insured person or immediate family member of the traveling companion
    • Any occurrence while the insured person is incarcerated
    • When: a) the U.S. has imposed any trade or economic sanctions prohibiting insurance of any accident, accidental bodily injury or loss; or b) there is any other legal prohibition against providing insurance for any accident, accidental bodily injury or loss
    • A declared or undeclared war

On a covered canceled trip, you can be reimbursed for non-refundable amounts paid for the tour, trip or vacation. On a covered interrupted trip, you can be reimbursed for the forfeited, non-refundable prepaid land, air and/or sea transportation arrangements that were missed. Or, if you’re able to postpone a trip you can be reimbursed for change fees and the unused non-refundable land, air and/or sea arrangements.

Related: Maximize your wallet with the perfect quartet of Chase cards

Other Chase credit cards

The Chase Freedom Cards. Are you truly free if you don
The Chase Freedom cards both provide trip cancellation and interruption insurance even though they charge no annual fee. (Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

The United Explorer Card, Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited also provide trip cancellation and interruption insurance. However, if you have a covered loss — which is defined similarly to the premium Chase cards discussed in the previous section — these cards will only reimburse non-refundable, prepaid passenger fares charged by an airline, cruise line, railroad or any other common carrier. The insurance will reimburse up to $1,500 for each covered person per trip to a maximum of $6,000 for all covered persons traveling together on the same trip.

Likewise, the United TravelBank Card may reimburse up to $1,500 per trip for your prepaid, non-refundable passenger fares if your trip is canceled or cut short by covered situations like sickness or injury.

Related: Chase Freedom vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited: Which card is right for you?

Select Bank of America credit cards

The Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa credit card provides reimbursement of up to $5,000 per person, per trip, for unused prepaid non-refundable travel expenses including passenger fares, tours and hotels if you have to cancel due to a covered reason.

If you have a Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card that is a World Mastercard, you can be reimbursed the unused non-refundable portion of the common carrier (airline, bus, train, cruise ship) passenger fare if your trip is cut short or called off altogether because you, or an eligible family member, gets sick or injured. Be sure to check your card’s guide to benefits to determine the maximum reimbursement.

Related: The best Bank of America credit cards

Select Barclays cards

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
Some Barclays card, like the JetBlue Plus Card, provide trip cancellation and interruption insurance. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Some Barclays cards offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance. However, these benefits generally aren’t advertised publicly to potential applicants, and based on two guide to benefits that I studied, the terms and covered reasons for cancellation and interruption vary across cards. This can make it difficult to determine which card to apply for if you’re looking for a card with particular protections.

However, I can confirm that the following Barclays cards offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance:

If you currently have any Barcalys cards, you can check the coverage provided by your cards online — which is probably a good idea considering the changes to benefits that will occur on some cards effective Nov. 1, 2019. Simply log in to your account, select the “Rewards & Benefits” drop down, select “My card benefits,” click on “Travel” and then click “Learn More” by “Trip Cancellation & Interruption.” The resulting page will display details of the benefit. You can also click on “Click here for Full Terms & Conditions” for the guide to benefits.

Visa Infinite cards

Although some Visa Infinite cards offer their own trip cancellation and interruption insurance, all Visa Infinite credit cards issued by U.S. banks also offers a minimum level of protection. In this section, we discuss that minimum level — but it’s important to realize that the protection on your exact Visa Infinite card may be different.

Visa Infinite cards offer a trip cancellation and interruption benefit that covers the cardholder (you), your spouse or domestic partner and your dependent children when you purchase your travel ticket with your Visa Infinite card or rewards associated with your card. This benefit can reimburse for the nonrefundable cost of passenger fare on a common carrier if you must cancel or interrupt your trip. Up to $2,000 per insured person can be reimbursed for air, ferry, train, bus and cruise ship tickets that are purchased with your card.

Your guide to benefits will have the full list of exclusions, but Visa’s website provides a pdf with the following examples of instances when you would not be covered: trips cancelled as a result of a pre-existing condition; accidental injuries arising from participation in some sporting events, racing or speed contests; most type of cosmetic surgery; illness or injury that occurred under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and uncertified scuba diving.

Related: Everything you need to know about the Visa Infinite program and perks

American Express cards

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
Some of our favorite premium Amex cards will soon become better with the addition of various travel protections, including trip cancellation and interruption insurance. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

You may have noticed that no American Express cards have been discussed so far in the guide. This is because most Amex cards don’t currently offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance. But, starting Jan. 1, 2020, the following Amex cards will begin offering trip cancellation insurance for eligible round-trip itineraries:

This new protection will reimburse non-refundable travel expenses of up to $10,000 per trip, with a maximum of up to $20,000 per eligible account for each consecutive 12-month period, when you need to cancel your flight for a covered reason. To be eligible, you must book a round-trip (travel to one or more destinations that begins and ends in the original city of departure) using an eligible card. You can either pay for the entire fare using the card, pay using Pay With Points or pay the taxes and fees on an award ticket using the card.

Related: Choosing the best American Express card for you

Bottom line

The trip cancellation and interruption insurance provided by select credit cards can come in handy when something unexpected forces you to cancel or interrupt a trip. If you need to cancel a trip for a covered reason and you put your initial trip expenses on a credit card offering trip cancellation insurance, you’ll usually be reimbursed your prepaid, nonrefundable expenses up to a particular maximum. If you need to interrupt a trip, most cards offering trip interruption insurance will simply cover any change fees and/or reimburse unused portions of your trip.

This being said, there are many exclusions, so it pays to read the guide to benefits on your favorite cards and determine whether it’s better to rely on the coverage provided by your card or whether you should purchase travel insurance. Some travel insurance policies let you cancel for work reasons or even cancel for any reason — but you’ll obviously be paying a premium for these policies.

Related: When to buy travel insurance versus when to rely on credit card protections

Featured photo by Cecilie_Arcurs/Getty Images.

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Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,000

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on all travel and dining, $300 annual travel credit, 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.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 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®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
18.74% - 25.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$450
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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