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What Card Should I Use During a Trip Delay, Cancellation or Interruption?

Dec. 01, 2019
5 min read
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"Reader Questions" are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

Many of the top travel rewards credit cards offer some form of trip delay or trip cancellation/interruption coverage. However, it's helpful to understand how these policies work before you travel, because the decisions you make in the midst of a chaotic flight cancellation might smooth your day out or preclude your from receiving insurance reimbursement. TPG reader Emily wants to know what card she should use for purchases that are covered by her card's travel insurance ...

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[pullquote source="TPG READER EMILY"]When you submit a claim for trip insurance, do the claimed expenses all have to be on the card that provides the insurance benefit?[/pullquote]

Simply holding the right credit cards is not enough to receive travel insurance coverage; you need to use that card to purchase either a part of all of your trip (the exact terms vary by card). The logic would hold that you also need to use that card to purchase your eligible reimbursement expenses — such as an extra hotel night if your flight is cancelled — but in reality that's not the case.

Let's take a look at one of the most rewarding cards for booking travel and see what it has to say. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers up to $500 for reasonable expenses if your flight is delayed more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay. If you go to the benefits guide, you'll see a list of required documents needed to submit a claim for reimbursement, including the following:

  • A copy of your monthly billing statement (showing the last four [4] digits of the Account number) confirming the Common Carrier ticket was charged to the covered account. (Only applicable if the travel itinerary does not reflect the last 4 digits of the Account number)
  • Copies of itemized receipts for your claimed expenses. For food expenses, receipts are required; however, itemized receipts are only required for bills of fifty ($50.00) dollars or more per covered traveler.

Now these terms are written very carefully by a team of legal experts, so we can learn as much from the words they do use as the ones they don't. You're required to submit proof that your common carrier ticket was charged to your eligible card (in this case the Sapphire Reserve), but when you're claiming expenses for reimbursement you simply need "copies of itemized receipts," with no mention of proof of payment. This means you can use any credit card to pay for these expenses, or even local currency as long as you make sure to get an itemized receipt.

I've tested this out myself before using trip delay insurance to cover an extra (forced) hotel night in Bangkok and Hong Kong. In each case, I paid for the hotel with one of my Marriott Bonvoy credit cards to earn bonus points. While the claims processes didn't always go smoothly, I never ran into any problems claiming expenses that were paid for with a different card.

Now the trip cancellation/interruption benefit is a bit different, as this allows you to be reimbursed for prepaid, nonrefundable expenses charged to the Sapphire Reserve when you have to cancel a trip before departure. If you need to interrupt a trip, you can get reimbursed for the forfeited prepaid expenses you miss, though those must be charged to the card for reimbursement to apply. However, if you do need to incur additional expenses as a result of the trip interruption, you should be able to get reimbursed for those costs, regardless of which card you used for them.

Just bear in mind that these policies do differ from card to card, so be sure to review your specific card's benefits guide to know what to expect. Any be sure to keep every receipt for additional expenses, as documentation is key for getting these claims processed successfully.

Bottom Line

When things go wrong and flights get cancelled, the last thing you want to worry about is using the right credit card to avoid triggering an exclusion in your coverage. The good news is that, as long as the original trip purchase was charged to the right card, you're generally free to pay for eligible expenses with whatever card you want in order to best maximize your bonus points or other perks.

Thanks for the question, Emily, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
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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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases