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Which credit cards cover baggage delays?

July 14 2022
10 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.

There are two types of travelers: those who carry on all their baggage, and those who prefer to check a bag.

If you check a bag, you’re familiar with the downsides. Waiting at baggage claim can delay the start of your trip, and careless bag handlers could result in damage.

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And then, sometimes your luggage isn’t there when you reach your destination. Even if the airline can tell you the location of your luggage (or even if you can find it using products like Apple AirTags), it still may take a while to be reunited with your bag. In the meantime, you’ll be left without essential items like a change of clothing and toiletries — and this may be even more likely during the burgeoning headache that is this summer travel season.

Related: What to do when your luggage is delayed or lost by an airline

Some airlines have policies for reimbursing travelers for essential items when a bag is delayed, but this reimbursement is often limited and can be difficult to obtain. Travel insurance is another option for seeking reimbursement.

But there’s also the option I rely on and have used multiple times: the baggage delay protection that is included on select credit cards simply by paying for the flight with the credit card.

Here are some of the best credit cards that offer this perk to cardholders.

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What is baggage delay protection?

(Photo by Hinterhaus Productions/Getty)

The baggage delay protection offered by select credit cards can reimburse you for the cost of necessary personal and business items while you wait for your checked bag when it’s delayed by a common carrier.

A common carrier is a company that transports any public passenger who pays a fare or buys a ticket and provides service on a regular schedule; common examples include planes, trains, ferries and cruise ships.

What’s covered by baggage delay protection?

Generally, baggage delay protection covers the things that you might need while your bag is delayed. This includes items like a change of clothes and toiletries. But depending on your situation, other items might be allowable. Maximums and restrictions vary from credit card to credit card.

Chase cards that offer baggage delay protection usually carry constraints. For example, the following items are excluded:

  • Hearing aids.
  • Artificial teeth, dental bridges or prosthetic devices.
  • Tickets, documents, money, securities, checks, traveler’s checks and valuable papers.
  • Business samples.
  • Jewelry and watches.
  • Cameras, video recorders and other electronic equipment.
  • Recreational equipment.

How do I get coverage?

The eligibility requirements differ from card to card, so check your specific guide to benefits to be sure.

Most of the cards discussed in this guide provide coverage as long as some part of the common carrier fare (like your airline ticket) is paid for either with the card or by redeeming points associated with the card. Paying the taxes and fees on an award ticket counts as paying for part of the flight for most cards discussed in this guide.

That’s why you’ll want to use a credit card that provides benefits even when you book an award ticket and only pay the taxes and fees on the award using the card.

One final restriction to note: Most of the cards mentioned in this guide don’t provide baggage delay protection if the bag is delayed when you’re returning home to your primary residence.

Credit cards that offer baggage delay coverage

CardLength of delayMaximum amount
Chase Sapphire Preferred CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to five days.
Chase Sapphire ReserveSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to five days.
Aeroplan Credit CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
Ink Business Preferred Credit CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to five days.
World of Hyatt Credit CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to five days.
Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MastercardFour hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
IHG Rewards Premier Credit CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
United Club Infinite CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
United Explorer CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
United Quest CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
British Airways Visa Signature CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
Iberia Visa Signature CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.
Aer Lingus Visa Signature CardSix hours or more.$100 per day for up to three days.

The information for the Aviator Red 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.

Note that most of the cards listed in the table above also have the following restrictions:

  • Coverage is secondary, so you’ll need to file claims with the airline and any other sources (like travel insurance) first.
  • Immediate family is covered even if you book a ticket for them with your card but aren’t traveling with them.
  • Coverage isn’t provided when your destination is your permanent residence.

It's worth noting that The Platinum Card® from American Express, one of our favorite cards for buying airfare, unfortunately doesn't offer this protection. You may still want to use this card for your flights thanks to the 5 points per dollar you'll earn (on up to $500,000 of these purchases each year), but be sure to keep this limitation in mind when choosing which card to use.

How to file a claim

Before filing a claim with your credit card’s benefits department, you’ll need to:

  • Notify the airline about the delayed or lost luggage. Generally, this is done by filing a report at the airline’s baggage services desk before leaving the airport. Get a copy of this report (including a reference or tracking number), as you’ll likely need to submit it with your claim.
  • Get documentation from the airline regarding the delayed baggage and the actions the airline is taking to locate and return the luggage. If the airline offers any reimbursement for items you need while your bag is delayed, get information on how to file this claim.
  • Keep original, itemized receipts of all necessary items you purchased while your baggage was delayed. If you are buying non-covered items at the same merchant — like snacks or entertainment for the kids — pay for these in separate transactions to avoid any confusion.
  • Keep any documentation that is provided when your delayed bag is delivered. This will prove the time at which the baggage was delivered.

If your luggage is indeed delayed, take a look at your credit card’s guide to benefits to determine the next steps, or simply call the number on the back of your card if you don’t have your benefits guide handy. Don’t take too long, either, as you’ll need to start the claim process relatively quickly.

To give you some context on common timelines, if you purchased your trip with an eligible Chase credit card listed above, you’ll usually have 20 days from when your bag was delayed to file a claim notice.

Then, you’ll be sent a “Proof of Loss” form. You’ll need to return it along with receipts and other documentation within 90 days from when your bag was delayed. From there, approved claims can take up to 60 days to be paid.

Finally, if you’re flying Alaska Airlines or Delta Air Lines, be sure to file a claim for bonus miles. Both carriers will award you 2,500 bonus miles (Alaska also allows you to choose a $25 flight voucher) if your bag doesn’t reach baggage claim within 20 minutes of arrival.

Bottom line

Unfortunately, delayed baggage insurance is still relatively rare among credit cards. The good news is, despite traveling full time as location-independent digital nomads, our checked baggage was only delayed twice in the 147 flights we took in the 15 months immediately prior to the pandemic.

In the rare case when a bag is delayed, however, you’ll be glad you booked your flight with a credit card that offers a delayed baggage benefit. It cannot be stressed enough that the details of this oft-overlooked benefit differ from card to card, so be sure to check your guide to benefits for the exact details on the credit card you usually use to book flights.

That way, you’ll know what to do and what you’re entitled to if your luggage is delayed on a future trip.

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Benét J. Wilson and Chris Dong.

Featured photo by (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)
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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