Starting today, Jan. 1, 2020, American Express has added trip delay and cancellation coverage to the Platinum Card® from American Express and some of its other top travel rewards cards, addressing a glaring shortcoming that should encourage more users to purchase flights with their Amex cards.
Top-dollar cards like the Platinum Card, the Business Platinum Card® from American Express, the Hilton Honors Aspire Card, and the Delta Reserve Credit Card will get the richest coverage. Lesser cards like American Express Gold and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express will be eligible for reimbursement after lengthy flight delays.
These policies are more or less identical to what you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, which offer some of the best travel protections out there. The one consideration to keep in mind is that this new coverage only applies to round-trip bookings.
Add in the 5x points per dollar you earn on the Platinum Card from American Express when booking flights directly with the airline, and the Platinum Card could be the absolute best way to book flights in 2020.
Unfortunately, there's a bit of bad news: Amex is cutting roadside assistance as well as travel accident insurance on these cards effective Jan. 1, 2020. But these new travel protections should more than outweigh those cuts for most travelers. Amex has reported that fewer than 1% of cardmembers have utilized these benefits, so this shouldn't impact many travelers.
Details on the New Amex Travel Coverage
Just what coverage you'll get will depend on which American Express card you have. The most comprehensive coverage is reserved for Amex cards with large annual fees, including:
- The Platinum Card from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card from American Express
- American Express Corporate Platinum Card
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
If you pay for your round-trip flight with one of these cards – or put the taxes and fees on a round-trip award flight on it – you will be eligible for:
- Trip Cancellation Insurance: You can get reimbursed for up to $10,000 of nonrefundable expenses – and up to $20,000 a year total – if your flight is canceled due to weather, an injury or illness, and other “covered reasons.”
- Trip Delay Insurance: If your flight is delayed by more than six hours, you are eligible for up to $500 in reimbursement for lodging, food, personal use items, and other associated expenses.
Note that these flights must be round-trip. It appears that one-way flights will not qualify for travel coverage.
With some of the lesser Amex cards like the American Express Gold Card, the American Express Green Card, and the Platinum Delta SkyMiles co-branded card, you'll only be eligible for up to $300 in reimbursement if your flight is delayed by 12-plus hours. These cards aren't eligible for trip cancellation coverage.
But you'll be eligible for coverage so long as you either pay for the round-trip flight with your card or use it to pay the taxes and fees on an award booking.
Read more about Amex's Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance on their website.
This is a game-changing move for American Express cardholders and a massive win for many travelers. And it should largely end the debate over which card is better to book airfare: The Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. The American Express Platinum card.
The Platinum Card from American Express now more or less matches Chase's top-tier travel protection – aside from the apparent restriction that flights must be booked round-trip to qualify for coverage. And it still beats the Chase Sapphire Reserve card's 3x return beat when booking flights (The Amex Platinum Card earns 5x points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline).
The lack of travel protection policies was one of few flaws on the American Express Platinum and other top-tier Amex cards. With these cards now offering solid trip cancellation and interruption coverage, that's no longer an issue. The Platinum Card will earn more of my airline spending in 2020, and it should earn more of yours, too.