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

Jan 2, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Oct. 31, 2019.

No one expects their trip to be canceled 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 describes 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 insurance

 

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

What is trip cancellation and trip interruption protection?

(Photo by Beatrix Boros/Stocksy)
If you book travel with the right card, you may 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)

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. 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.

Related: Are authorized users covered by credit card travel insurance?

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
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, 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.

The following information is based on 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 eligible travel expenses, you and your immediate family may be covered when:

  • Some portion of the cost has been charged to your Chase credit card
  • The trip will not exceed 60 days in duration

If you used Chase Ultimate Rewards to pay for part or all of your eligible trip expenses, 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.

Related: What proof is needed for Chase’s trip insurance?

However, you’ll only be eligible for reimbursement if certain events cause cancellation or interruption of your travel arrangements. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s guide to benefits indicates trip cancellation and interruption coverage may be provided for the following events:

  • Accidental bodily injury, loss of life, or sickness experienced by you or your traveling companion which prevents you or your traveling companion from traveling on the trip
  • Accidental bodily injury, loss of life, or sickness experienced by an immediate family member of you or your traveling companion when the accidental bodily injury or sickness is considered life threatening, requires hospitalization, or such immediate family member requires care by you or your traveling companion
  • Severe weather, which prevents a reasonable and prudent person from beginning or continuing on a trip and occurs: 1) at the point of origin of the trip prior to departure; or 2) in the path between your place of permanent residence and the point of origin of the trip prior to departure; or 3) within 50 miles of the airport, terminal, station, booked lodging, and/or host at destination location listed on your travel itinerary; and which: A) impacts a reasonable and prudent person’s ability to: (a) safely travel to the departure point of a common carrier on which you are scheduled to travel; or (b) safely remain at a booked provider of lodging, or a host at destination location listed on your travel itinerary; or B) causes the cessation of operation of a common carrier for which you are scheduled to travel provided that such cessation of operation causes you to: (a) miss at least 20% of the scheduled duration of the trip; or (b) miss the departure of a prepaid cruise, or tour (booked through a tour operator) that you are scheduled to take; or C) causes a provider of lodging with which you booked accommodations to cease normal operations
  • 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 being made uninhabitable, being burglarized, or damaged by fire or flood
  • You or your traveling companion’s lodging accommodations at the destination of the trip being made uninhabitable
  • The death or hospitalization of you or your traveling companion’s host at destination
  • Quarantine of you or your traveling companion imposed by a physician or by a competent governmental authority having jurisdiction, due to health reasons
  • An organized strike affecting public transportation which causes you or your traveling companion to a) miss at least 20% of the scheduled duration of the trip; or b) miss the departure of a prepaid cruise, or tour (booked through a tour operator) that you are scheduled to take
  • The following losses are specific to trip cancellation:
    • Terrorist incident within 25 miles of you or your traveling companion’s place of permanent residence within 30 days of your scheduled departure date; or a terrorist incident within 25 miles of an airport, booked lodging, and/or host at destination location listed on the itinerary within 30 days of the scheduled arrival
    • A travel warning due to terrorism issued by the branch of the United States government with jurisdiction to issue such warning for the immediate vicinity of you or your traveling
      companion’s place of permanent residence within ten days of the scheduled departure date; or a travel warning due to terrorism issued by the United States Department of
      State or other branch of the United States government with jurisdiction to issue such warning for a geographic area within 25 miles of an airport, booked lodging, and/or host at destination location that is in effect within 30 days immediately preceding the scheduled departure date
  • The following losses are specific to trip interruption:
    • Terrorist incident within 25 miles of an airport, booked lodging, and/or host at destination location listed on your itinerary while on a trip
    • Travel warning due to terrorism issued by the United States Department of State or other branch of the United States government with jurisdiction to issue such warning for a geographic area within 25 miles of an airport, booked lodging, and/or host at destination location that is issued during your or your traveling companion’s trip
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)

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 of you or your traveling companion and his or her immediate family members
  • A pre-existing condition or any other event that occurs or commences prior to 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 prior to their expiration date
  • Travel arrangements that are scheduled to take place after the twenty-sixth week of pregnancy; or when any multiple pregnancy, with or without complications, occurs prior to the initial deposit date or booking date of the trip; or any pregnancy associated with an assisted reproductive program, such as in vitro fertilization
  • Any loss for any trip booked while on a waiting list for specified medical treatment
  • Any loss for any trip that is booked for the purpose of obtaining 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, including any felony
  • 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
  • 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)
  • For trip cancellation only:
    • Trips booked to any area known to be associated with terrorist activity
  • For trip interruption only:
    • 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, or unless specifically covered herein
    • 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 prior to the initial deposit date or booking date of the trip
    • A terrorist incident within 25 miles of an airport, booked lodging, and/or host at destination location listed on your itinerary within 30 days of your initial deposit date or booking date of the trip

In general, you may only be reimbursed for eligible non-refundable prepaid travel expenses charged by a travel supplier or redeposit fees imposed by a rewards program administrator. A travel supplier is defined as a travel agency, tour operator, provider of lodging, rental car agency, rented recreational vehicle provider, commercial recreational excursion provider, cruise line, airline, railroad and other common carriers. However, for trip interruption you may also reimbursed for:

  • Change fees
  • Costs to return a rental vehicle to the closest rental agency
  • Costs to return your personal vehicle to your closest leased or owned residence
  • Ground transportation expenses up to $250 to directly transport you for necessary medical treatment to the airport, terminal or station of departure, and/or between the arrival airport, terminal or station and your residence (not including transportation in vehicles operated by a medical facility or specifically designed to transport sick or injured individuals)
  • Prepaid unused non-refundable land, air, and/or sea arrangements (if you are forced to temporarily postpone a trip due to a loss and a new departure date is set)

Additionally, be aware of the following specific restrictions to this protection:

  • In the event that your trip cancellation or trip interruption results in a credit for future travel, accommodations, or other consideration being issued by the travel supplier, 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 a portion of such expense has been charged 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 largest benefit amount for the loss that occurred

Related: Best Chase credit 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, United TravelBank 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.

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.

I was able to confirm that the following two cards offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance because my husband is a cardholder of both cards:

  • JetBlue Plus Card: up to $5,000 per insured person if certain unforeseen covered events cause you to cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason
  • AAdvantage Aviator Mastercard: up to $1,500 per insured person if certain unforeseen covered events cause you to cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason

If you currently have any Barclays cards, you can check the coverage provided by your cards online. 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.

Related: What card should I use during a trip delay, cancellation or interruption?

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 offer 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 Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
Some of our favorite Amex cards added trip cancellation and interruption insurance for trips booked on or after Jan. 1, 2020. (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

For trips booked on or after Jan. 1, 2020, the following Amex cards offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance for eligible round-trip itineraries:

You can find benefit guides for all of these cards on Amex’s website. For trip cancellation, Amex may reimburse you for the nonrefundable amount paid to a travel supplier with your eligible card if a covered loss causes an eligible traveler’s trip cancellation, subject to the cancellation provisions in effect at the time the travel supplier is notified of cancellation.

If a covered loss causes an eligible traveler’s trip interruption, Amex may reimburse you for the nonrefundable amount paid to a travel supplier with your eligible card for the following:

  • The forfeited, non-refundable, pre-paid 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

If a covered loss causes an eligible traveler to temporarily postpone transportation by common carrier for a covered trip and a new departure date is set, we 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, non-refundable 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. 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 credit 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.

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.