The best credit cards that offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance
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No one expects their trip to be canceled or interrupted. But, things happen. Perhaps a family member is suddenly hospitalized. Or maybe an emergency makes your home uninhabitable and you have to oversee repairs. You might even be the one that’s injured or hospitalized.
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You’ll typically lose what you’ve spent on prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses such as hotels, flights and tours if you don’t go on a trip. Or, if you’re lucky, you may be able to pay a few change fees to alter your travel dates. But you may need to book entirely new travel arrangements or pay a sizable fare difference if your trip is interrupted and you need to return home earlier or later than you’d planned.
Travel insurance can cover some of these unexpected expenses. Before the pandemic, many travelers didn’t buy travel insurance. As COVID-19 concerns have spiked interest in travel insurance, you may be wondering where to get started. In fact, if you pay for your trip with select travel rewards cards, you may be covered. After all, some credit cards offer travel insurance benefits. And one of these benefits is often trip cancellation and interruption protection.
In this guide, I’ll take a closer look at the trip cancellation and interruption protection benefits offered by select cards, as well as the best rewards cards that offer these benefits.
Best credit cards for trip cancellation and interruption insurance
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best overall card.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for travelers looking for a sub-$100 annual fee.
- United Club Infinite Card: Best for United loyalists.
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Best for IHG loyalists.
- World of Hyatt Credit Card: Best for Hyatt loyalists.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for business travelers.
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: Best for Bank of America Preferred Rewards members.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best when traveling with non-family companions.
The cards listed above are my top picks for trip cancellation and interruption insurance. But many other cards also offer trip cancellation and interruption protection. And the best card for you to use when booking a trip depends on many factors. For example, you may want to consider whether paying with a specific card gets you benefits from the travel provider and the earnings provided by the card.
What is trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance?
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance provide reimbursement for nonrefundable, prepaid trip expenses when you cancel or alter your trip due to a covered situation. And in some cases, you may be covered for select additional costs such as a new flight home. However, maximum coverage amounts, the types of covered situations and the types of eligible expenses vary from card to card.
Generally, trip cancellation insurance provides reimbursement when you must cancel a trip before its departure date. Meanwhile, trip interruption insurance may refund you if an ongoing trip is interrupted or canceled.
Although you can buy separate travel insurance that will provide a partial refund if you cancel your trip for any reason, trip cancellation and interruption insurance doesn’t typically work the same way. Instead, trip cancellation and interruption insurance typically 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 insurance when you purchase travel with your card. The remainder of this guide details some of my favorite cards and issuers that offer trip cancellation and interruption benefits. Of course, benefits frequently change. So it’s best to take a look at your card’s guide to benefits before booking to ensure you understand the protections it currently provides.
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||$550|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||Up to $10,000 per covered person with a maximum of $20,000 per trip||$95|
|United Club Infinite Card||Up to $10,000 per covered person with a maximum of $20,000 per trip||$525|
|IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card||Up to $5,000 per covered person with a maximum of $10,000 per trip||$89, waived for the first year|
|World of Hyatt Credit Card||Up to $5,000 per covered person with a maximum of $10,000 per trip||$95|
|Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||Up to $5,000 per covered person with a maximum of $10,000 per trip||$95|
I obtained the following information from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card‘s guide to benefits dated Dec. 1, 2019 (see the guide to benefits here). I believe the other Chase premium cards listed above provide similar benefits. But check your card’s guide to benefits to ensure your coverage is the same.
When you use an eligible Chase card to pay for select travel expenses, you and your immediate family may be covered when:
- You charge a portion of the cost to your Chase credit card.
- The trip will not exceed 60 days in duration (if your trip exceeds 60 days, Chase may reimburse a prorated portion of any nonrefundable prepaid eligible travel expenses).
Suppose you used Chase Ultimate Rewards to pay for part or all of your eligible trip expenses. In that case, Chase will reimburse you the redemption’s monetary value or 1 cent per point if the value doesn’t appear on your itinerary or confirmation.
Eligible trip cancellation or interruption events
You’ll only be eligible for reimbursement if certain events cause cancellation or interruption of your travel arrangements. For example, Chase may provide trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the following circumstances:
- Accidental bodily injury, loss of life or sickness experienced by you or your traveling companion that prevents either of you from traveling.
- Accidental bodily injury, loss of life or sickness experienced by an immediate family member of you or your traveling companion that’s considered life-threatening, requires hospitalization or requires care by you or your traveling companion.
- Severe weather that would prevent a reasonable and prudent person from beginning or continuing on a trip, occurs in select locations related to your trip and affects your travel in specific ways.
- Named storm warning.
- Change in military orders for you or your spouse.
- A call to jury duty or receiving a subpoena from the courts, neither of which can be postponed or waived.
- You or your traveling companion’s place of permanent residence becomes uninhabitable, burglarized or damaged by fire or flood.
- You or your traveling companion’s lodging accommodations being made uninhabitable.
- The death or hospitalization of you or your traveling companion’s destination host.
- Quarantine of you or your traveling companion imposed by a physician or by a competent governmental authority having jurisdiction (only due to health reasons).
- An organized strike affecting public transportation, which affects your trip in select ways.
Additionally, Chase may provide trip cancellation coverage for the following events:
- Terrorist incident within 25 miles of you or your traveling companion’s place of permanent residence within 30 days of the scheduled departure.
- Terrorist incident within 25 miles of an airport, booked lodging and/or destination host within 30 days of your scheduled arrival.
- A travel warning due to terrorism issued by the U.S. government for the immediate vicinity of you or your traveling companion’s place of permanent residence within 10 days of the scheduled departure.
- A travel warning due to terrorism issued by the U.S. government for a geographic area within 25 miles of an airport, booked lodging and/or destination host that is in effect within 30 days immediately preceding the scheduled departure.
Finally, Chase may provide trip interruption coverage for the following events:
- Terrorist incident within 25 miles of an airport, booked lodging and/or destination host while on a trip.
- Travel warning due to terrorism issued by the U.S. government during your trip for a geographic area within 25 miles of an airport, booked lodging and/or destination host.
Excluded reasons for trip cancellation or interruption
However, you won’t be eligible for reimbursement if any of the following directly or indirectly cause the trip cancellation or interruption:
- A change in plans, financial circumstances and any business or contractual obligations.
- A preexisting condition or any other event that occurs or commences before the initial deposit date or booking date of the trip.
- Any loss due to the voluntary surrender of unused vouchers, tickets, credits, coupons or travel privileges available to you from the travel supplier before their expiration date.
- Travel after the 26th week of pregnancy, travel when any multiple pregnancy occurs before the initial deposit date or booking date of the trip or travel during any pregnancy associated with an assisted reproductive program.
- Any loss for any trip booked while on a waiting list for specified medical treatment.
- Any loss for a trip booked to obtain medical treatment.
- Disinclination to travel due to civil unrest.
- Failure of you or your traveling companion to obtain necessary visas, passports or requisite travel documents.
- Your commission or attempted commission of any illegal act.
- Your suicide, attempted suicide or intentionally self-inflicted injury.
- You being under the influence of any narcotic, legal recreational marijuana or other controlled substance at the time of a loss (except if the narcotic or other controlled substance is taken and used as prescribed by a physician).
- Your disinclination to travel due to an epidemic or pandemic.
- The default of the common carrier resulting from financial insolvency or financial insolvency of a travel agency, tour operator or travel supplier.
- War, undeclared war, civil war, insurrection, rebellion, revolution, warlike acts by a military force or personnel, any action taken in hindering or defending against any of these, the destruction or seizure of property for a military purpose or any consequences of any of these acts (war does not include terrorism).
Additionally, Chase won’t provide trip cancellation coverage for trips booked to any area known to be associated with terrorist activity. Plus, trip interruption coverage won’t be provided for loss caused by or resulting from:
- Travel arrangements canceled or changed by a travel supplier unless the cancellation is the result of severe weather or an organized strike affecting public transportation.
- Any terrorist incident or travel warning that occurred within 25 miles of your or your traveling companion’s place of permanent residence within 30 days before the initial deposit date or booking date of the trip.
- A terrorist incident within 25 miles of an airport, booked lodging and/or destination host within 30 days of your initial deposit date or booking date of the trip.
In general, Chase will only reimburse you for eligible nonrefundable, prepaid travel expenses charged by a travel supplier or redeposit fees imposed by a rewards program administrator. However, for trip interruption, Chase may also reimburse you for:
- Change fees.
- Costs to return a rental vehicle to the closest rental agency.
- Costs to return your vehicle to your closest leased or owned residence.
- Ground transportation expenses up to $250 to directly transport you for necessary medical treatment (not including transportation in vehicles operated by a medical facility or designed to transport sick or injured individuals).
- Prepaid unused nonrefundable land, air and/or sea arrangements (if you must temporarily postpone a trip and set a new departure date).
Additionally, be aware of the following specific restrictions to this protection:
- If your trip cancellation or trip interruption results in the travel supplier issuing a credit for future travel, accommodations or other consideration, you will not receive any payment for that portion of the eligible travel expenses until the issued credit expires.
- No benefit will be paid for any eligible travel expense unless you charged a portion of such expense to your card.
- Additional transportation expenses will not be reimbursed, including the difference in cost between the original fare or any new fare to return home or rejoin the trip.
- If you are eligible for insurance under multiple credit card accounts, you will only be insured under the account which provides the most significant benefit amount for the loss that occurred.
Apply now for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, United Club Infinite Card, IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, World of Hyatt Credit Card or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Other select Chase credit cards
Several other Chase cards, including the United Explorer Card, Chase Freedom Flex 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 nonrefundable prepaid passenger fares.
Eligible travel expenses include change fees imposed by a travel supplier to change the date and/or time of prescheduled travel arrangements. Redeposit fees charged by a rewards program administrator are also eligible. Chase may reimburse you up to $1,500 per person per trip. However, there is a reimbursement cap of $6,000 for all covered persons traveling together on the same trip.
Related: Best Chase credit cards of 2021
Select American Express cards
The following Amex cards offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance for eligible round-trip itineraries:
- The Platinum Card from American Express (including most varieties of the card).
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card.
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
- Centurion® Card from American Express.
- Business Centurion® Card from American Express.
- Corporate Platinum Card®.
- The Corporate Centurion® Card from American Express.
You can find benefit guides for all of these cards on Amex’s website. And you can read Amex’s COVID-19 page to learn about what types of related trip cancellation claims may be approved. But let’s take a closer look at what kind of events are typically eligible.
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.
Eligible trip cancellation or interruption events
Based on the benefits guide for these Amex cards, covered losses include trip cancellations or trip interruptions that result from the following:
- Accidental bodily injury, loss of life or sickness of either the eligible traveler, traveling companion or a family member of the eligible traveler or traveling companion.
- Inclement weather which prevents a reasonable and prudent person from traveling or continuing on a covered trip.
- The eligible traveler or his or her spouse’s change in military orders.
- Terrorist action or hijacking.
- Call to jury duty or subpoena by the courts, either of which cannot be postponed or waived.
- The eligible traveler or traveling companion’s dwelling made uninhabitable.
- Quarantine imposed by a physician for health reasons.
Excluded reasons for trip cancellation or interruption
However, for Amex’s trip cancellation and interruption insurance, coverage does not apply to any accident, accidental bodily injury or loss caused by or resulting from the following, directly or indirectly:
- Preexisting conditions.
- The eligible traveler’s suicide, attempted suicide or intentionally self-inflicted injury.
- A declared or undeclared war.
- Mental or emotional disorders, unless hospitalized.
- The eligible traveler’s participation in a sporting activity for which he or she receives a salary or prize money.
- The eligible traveler being intoxicated at the time of an accident (the laws of the jurisdiction where such accident occurs define intoxication).
- The eligible traveler being under the influence of any narcotic or other controlled substance at the time of an accident, unless the narcotic or other controlled substance is taken and used as prescribed by a physician.
- The eligible traveler’s commission or attempted commission of any illegal or criminal act.
- The eligible traveler parachuting from an aircraft.
- The eligible traveler engaging or participating in a motorized vehicular race or speed contest.
- Dental treatment except as a result of accidental bodily injury to sound, natural teeth.
- Any nonemergency treatment or surgery and routine physical examinations.
- Hearing aids, eyeglasses or contact lenses.
- One-way travel that does not have a return destination.
- A counterfeit scheduled airline or train ticket, or a scheduled airline or train ticket charged to a fraudulently issued or fraudulently used eligible card.
- Any occurrence while the eligible traveler is incarcerated.
- Loss due to intentional acts by the eligible traveler.
- Financial insolvency of a travel agency, tour operator or travel supplier.
- Any expenses that are not authorized and reimbursable by the eligible traveler’s employer if the eligible traveler makes the purchases with a commercial card.
If a covered loss causes you to cancel your trip, Amex may reimburse you for the nonrefundable amount you paid to a travel supplier with your eligible card. However, suppose a covered loss causes you to interrupt your trip. In that case, Amex may reimburse you for the nonrefundable amount paid to a travel supplier with your eligible card for the following:
- The forfeited, nonrefundable, prepaid land, air and sea transportation arrangements that were missed.
- Additional transportation expenses that the eligible traveler incurs less any available refunds, not to exceed the cost of an economy-class air ticket by the most direct route for the eligible traveler to rejoin his or her common carrier covered trip or to return to his or her place of origin.
Now, suppose a covered loss causes you to temporarily postpone transportation by a common carrier for a covered trip and set a new departure date. In that case, Amex will reimburse you for the following:
- The additional expenses incurred to purchase tickets for the new departure (not to exceed the difference between the original fare and the economy fare for the rescheduled covered trip by the most direct route).
- The unused, nonrefundable land, air and sea arrangements paid to a travel supplier with your eligible card.
The protection offered for eligible trips purchased on these cards may reimburse up to $10,000 per trip, with a maximum of up to $20,000 per eligible account for each consecutive 12-month period. 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 to be eligible.
You can pay for the full fare using the card, pay using Pay with Points or pay for part of the fare with your card and part of the fare using redeemable certificates, vouchers, coupons or discounts awarded from a frequent flyer program or similar program. In particular, you can get coverage when you pay the taxes and fees on an award ticket using your card.
However, to get full coverage for a trip, you’ll need to book an eligible round-trip using one of the eligible cards and use that same card for any other travel expenses you want to be covered. As such, your best option is The Platinum Card from American Express. After all, the Amex Platinum earns 5x on flights booked directly with airlines and prepaid hotels and airfare booked with Amex Travel.
Apply here for The Platinum Card from American Express, The Business Platinum Card from American Express, Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
Select Bank of America credit cards
The Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card provides reimbursement of up to $2,500 per person, per trip, for unused prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses, including passenger fares, tours and hotels, if you have to cancel due to a covered reason. The card has a $95 annual fee, but you’ll earn 2 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, earn 2 points for every dollar spent on grocery store purchases — now through Dec. 31. Check out our Bank of American Premium Rewards card review for more details.
Apply here: Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card
Select Barclays cards
Some Barclays cards offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance. However, these benefits generally aren’t advertised publicly to potential applicants. As such, I was only able to confirm the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard and the JetBlue Plus Card offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance. The information for the AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard and JetBlue Plus 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.
Presumably, other Barclays cards also offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance. If you currently have any Barclays cards, you can check the coverage provided by your cards online.
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 provide basic protection. In this section, we discuss that minimal level of protection. But it’s essential to realize that the protection on your exact Visa Infinite card may be different.
Visa Infinite cards offer trip cancellation and interruption protection covering the cardholder (you) and your immediate family when purchasing your travel ticket with your Visa Infinite card or rewards associated with your card. This benefit can reimburse up to $2,000 per trip for the nonrefundable passenger fare cost on a common carrier if you must cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason.
You can see a quick overview of the Visa Infinite protections on Visa’s website. However, your card’s guide to benefits will have the full details.
Are trips affected by COVID-19 covered?
If you have a trip booked to an area affected by COVID-19, you may wonder whether you can cancel your trip and file a claim for reimbursement. The answer and specifics will vary based on the card you used and the details of why you want to cancel. But in general, you won’t be able to get a refund from trip cancellation and interruption insurance if your reason is primarily related to:
- You’re no longer willing to take your trip.
- Your destination has reported incidents or confirmed cases of COVID-19.
- There’s a CDC travel warning for your destination.
- Your destination won’t offer you entry or would require testing, vaccination or quarantine for entry.
- The flight to or from your destination is canceled due to COVID-19.
However, some cards may offer coverage in specific cases. For example, Amex may provide coverage if the reason for your trip cancellation is that you contract COVID-19 or are quarantined by a physician for health reasons related to COVID-19 before departing for your trip.
Of course, many airlines now offer free changes or cancellations. And you may be able to work with other travel suppliers to change or cancel your arrangements. So, you may be able to be refunded or otherwise accommodated even if your reasons for cancellation or interruption aren’t eligible for reimbursement by your insurance.
What is the difference between trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage?
The main difference between trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage is timing. Trip cancellation insurance protects your trip from when you make the initial payment to the time of your scheduled departure. On the other hand, trip interruption insurance covers your trip from the day of your scheduled departure to your scheduled date of return.
What types of expenses are covered?
Covered expenses vary significantly from card to card. For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited will reimburse nonrefundable prepaid common carrier fares but not any other nonrefundable prepaid travel expenses. But premium cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve will reimburse a wide variety of nonrefundable prepaid travel expenses charged by a travel supplier as well as redeposit fees imposed by a rewards program administrator.
Some cards may cover additional expenses under trip interruption that wouldn’t be covered under trip cancellation. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve will reimburse change fees and costs to return a rental vehicle to the closest rental agency or your vehicle to your closest leased or owned residence. Some cards may also reimburse for prepaid unused nonrefundable land, air and/or sea arrangements if you must end your trip early due to a covered reason. And select Amex cards will even reimburse expenses to rejoin a trip or return to the place of origin after a covered interruption.
However, you generally won’t be reimbursed for event tickets or prepaid fees to theme parks, museums, golf courses or other points of interest unless you purchase such expenses as part of a travel package. And there’s often a per-person, per-trip or per-account maximum each year.
Who is covered?
Who is covered by your credit card travel insurance also varies. For example, eligible Chase cards cover you and your immediate family members who purchase all or a portion of a trip on your card. Chase defines an immediate family member as someone with any of the following relationships to you:
Spouse, and parents thereof; sons and daughters, including adopted children and stepchildren; parents, including stepparents; brothers and sisters; grandparents and grandchildren; aunts or uncles; nieces or nephews; and Domestic Partner and parents thereof, including Domestic Partners or Spouses of any individual of this definition.
Chase notes that “immediate family member” also includes legal guardians or wards and that immediate family members do not need to be traveling with the cardholder for benefits to apply.
On the other hand, eligible American Express cards cover you, your family members and traveling companions when you charge the full amount of an eligible trip (including common carrier round-trip fare) to your card or when you use a combination of your card and accumulated points on your card or redeemable certificates, vouchers, coupons or discounts awarded from a frequent flyer program or similar program. Amex defines a traveling companion as “an individual who has made advanced arrangements with you or your Family Members to travel together for all or part of a Covered Trip” and family members as:
… a spouse, Domestic Partner, or unmarried dependent child up to age 19 (or under age twenty-six (26) if a full time student at an accredited college or university).
So, although Amex will cover traveling companions, you’ll need to charge round-trip common carrier fares to your eligible Amex card to be covered. On the other hand, Chase doesn’t cover traveling companions but does provide a broad interpretation of family and doesn’t require round-trip common carrier travel.
How do I file a claim?
If you’re in a situation where you believe you may be eligible for your credit card’s travel insurance, your first step should be to read your card’s guide to benefits and/or call the number on the back of your card. Even if you believe your insurance will cover you after reading your card’s guide to benefits, it is usually a good idea to call the number on the back of your card. Doing so will let you ensure you’re covered, learn about deadlines for making your claim and determine what documents you’ll need to collect.
The benefits administrator will usually walk you through the necessary steps for making your claim. Luckily, many card issuers now allow you to make claims online, so you may not even need to send in any physical documents. Be sure to pay attention to any deadline for starting your claim and uploading documents, as well as any specific requirements for requested documentation.
The trip cancellation and interruption insurance provided by select cards can come in handy when something unexpected forces you to cancel or interrupt a trip. Suppose 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. In that case, your card may reimburse your prepaid, nonrefundable costs up to a particular maximum. If you need to interrupt a trip, most cards offering trip interruption insurance will only cover any change fees and/or reimburse unused portions of your trip.
However, 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 travel insurance provided by your card or whether you should purchase travel insurance. And, especially when traveling during the coronavirus pandemic, you may want to buy “cancel for any reason” trip insurance for particularly uncertain trips.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve Business, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, click here.
Featured photo by Orbon Alija for Getty Images.
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