TPG reader question: What happens to my card’s travel protection benefits when I downgrade?

Mar 1, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This article is part of our weekly column to answer your credit card questions. If you would like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at tips@thepointsguy.com


Over the past year, cardholders have had to make some difficult decisions about what to keep in their wallets.

While we’ve seen some incredibly generous sign-up bonuses and limited-time perks, the reality is that some people may not need a high-annual-fee card anymore. Before you cancel a card, remember to consider your options, including whether a downgrade may make the most sense.

TPG reader Daniel K. asks us this week what happens to baggage and travel protections on a card that he plans to downgrade.

Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG’s free daily newsletter.

I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and I was planning to downgrade. I was wondering how my lost baggage and travel protection works when this happens. Will the coverage still be under the original card’s protection plan or fall under the new card’s coverage?

TPG reader Daniel K.

The premium Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the best cards to use for travel, with perks such as 3x Ultimate Rewards points on travel purchases and an annual $300 travel credit. But beyond this, the $550-per-year Sapphire Reserve has one of the most comprehensive protection benefits of any card on the market. That includes trip cancellation and delay coverage and delayed and lost luggage reimbursement.

As a cardholder, you are bound to the benefits guide of your specific card product. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve — and for most cards — most of your protections and benefits will no longer apply after your account is closed.

That is, all of your protections and benefits will change to those offered by the new card, whichever one that may be.

Related: How to downgrade a Chase card

For instance, for the baggage delay benefit, the Chase Sapphire benefits guide states, “coverage will not be provided if the Cardholder’s Account is closed before the Baggage Delay occurs.” That means if you pay for a trip with your Sapphire Reserve and cancel the card before the trip, the benefit would likely not apply.

However, Chase goes on to note that “a Cardholder’s cancellation of his or her Account [does not] invalidate or reduce any otherwise valid claim that has already been submitted.” Therefore, if you already have an active claim but close your card, fear not, as your claim will still be valid.

Related: Which cards offer baggage delay protection?

Baggage claim at LGA Terminal B (Photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy)

For other benefits, such as travel protection and trip cancellation, there is less certainty on whether it would remain eligible after closing or downgrading your card account. It’s best to refer to your card’s individual benefits guide and call your card issuer for more details.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which card is right for you?

Bottom line

At the end of the day, the safest course of action is to assume that any protection and benefits will be null and void on your current card once you close your card account and switch or downgrade to a new card.

In Daniel’s case, downgrading to a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card may be a wise option considering the healthy array of travel and return protection benefits offered on this sister card with a much more palatable $95 annual fee.

The one disadvantage of downgrading a card is that you typically won’t get a sign-up bonus for the card you’re downgrading to. However, downgrading allows you to maintain your credit line and the average age of credit, so it doesn’t have the same negative effect on your credit score as canceling a card might. Finally, Daniel will retain full use of his transferable Ultimate Rewards points by holding onto an Ultimate Rewards-earning card that has an annual fee.

Featured photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.