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The Best Credit Cards Offering Travel Insurance

Credit Card Myths

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When it comes to travel insurance, not all policies are created equal. And the same is true of the coverage you’ll get from credit cards.

Some of the biggest names in travel rewards cards can offer an incredible level of insurance protection in different categories, making them a more cost-effective option than a standalone travel insurance policy.

But it can be confusing, as just what you get with each card varies widely. So we’re breaking down four of the most important categories in travel insurance – trip delay and cancelation coverage; medical evacuation and travel accident coverage; baggage delay and lost luggage coverage; and rental car protection – and picking the best credit card option for each.

With Citi announcing they will be removing travel insurance benefits from their card lineup, it’s the perfect time to discuss the best options currently available. Read on for a full breakdown.

 

Trip Delay & Cancelation Coverage

When it comes to trip delay protection, there are a number of credit cards that will reimburse you for expenses you incur due to a delayed or canceled flight, train, bus, etc. But the clear winner is the Chase Sapphire Reserve card as it provides the best coverage with a reasonable annual fee.

The reimbursement can be used for costs like meals, lodging, toiletries, etc. incurred because of the delay. Most credit cards offering this benefit will reimburse you for delays more than six or 12 hours, and the delay must take place away from the cardholder’s primary city of residence. The Sapphire Reserve card will reimburse you for any delay lasting six hours or more, which is one of the reasons it’s the best option for trip delay coverage.

The Sapphire Reserve cardholder will be covered along with their spouse or domestic partner and any dependent children under the age of 22 for up to $500 for each purchased ticket.

The kicker here is that the trip must have been paid for with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card (or with Chase Ultimate Rewards points from the card.)

For more information on the Chase Sapphire Reserve trip delay benefit, visit the following link on Chase’s website.

 

 

When it comes to trip cancelation coverage, both the Sapphire Reserve and Preferred card offer identical coverage. The cardholder and any immediate family members will be covered if a covered loss prevents you from traveling and results in having to cancel nonrefundable arrangements for a trip. The coverage will reimburse you up to $10,000 per person up to $20,000 total per covered trip and a total of $40,000 per year.

For Chase, the following situations qualify:

  • Accidental bodily injury, loss of life, or sickness experienced by the cardholder, a traveling companion or an immediate family member of the cardholder or a traveling companion
  • Severe weather that prevents the start or continuation a covered trip
  • Terrorist action or hijacking
  • Jury duty or a court subpoena that cannot be postponed or waived
  • Financial insolvency of the cardholder’s travel agency, tour operator, or travel supplier
  • A change in military orders for you, your spouse, or your domestic Partner

Again, the kicker here is that the trip must have been paid for with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card or Chase Ultimate Rewards points from the card.

 

Category Winner: The Chase Sapphire Reserve. While the Sapphire Preferred provides coverage for the same events, the Sapphire Reserve card will reimburse you after a six-hour delay as opposed to 12 hours on the Sapphire Preferred card.

 

 

Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve

 

Medical Evacuation & Travel Accident Coverage

You always hope you never need Medical Evacuation & Travel Accident coverage. But when and if you need it, it’s invaluable.

Many cards offer this coverage, but the clear winner is the Platinum Card from American Express.

The Platinum Card provides medical evacuation coverage with no expense cap on trips of less than 90 days and at least 100 miles from your residence. This will exclude evacuations due to any pre-existing conditions, but a huge part of why the Platinum Card wins this category is there is no requirement to put any of your trip expenses on the card to take advantage of the coverage. Just for being a Platinum cardholder, you can use it if you ever need it.

Additionally, the benefits are extended to immediate family and children under the age of 23 (and under 26 if enrolled full-time in school).

 

 

One thing to note is that a Premium Global Assist (PGA) administrator from American Express must coordinate everything in order for the medical or evacuation costs to be covered.

Any costs for medical transport not authorized and arranged through the Premium Global Assist Hotline Program will not be reimbursed. For more information on this from American Express, visit the Global Assist Hotline information page.

The Platinum Card from American Express will also cover up to $500,000 per person for loss of life on a trip. However, to take advantage of this coverage, you must pay for your entire fare with your Platinum card and/or Membership Rewards points.

For more information on American Express’ travel accident coverage for Platinum cardholders, visit the terms and conditions page.

 

Category Winner: The Platinum Card from American Express. While other cards offer solid coverage in this category, only the Platinum card doesn’t have a cap on the cost of medical evacuation and there is no requirement to pay for your travels with the card to take advantage of it.

 

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Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express

 


Baggage Delay & Lost Luggage Coverage

When it comes to credit cards covering baggage delays and/or lost luggage, you will be hard pressed to find more bang for your buck than the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

And with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card only charging an annual fee of $95, it is our winner for the best option for baggage delay and lost luggage coverage.

If you check your bags and they’re delayed more than six hours, both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred can reimburse you up to $100 per day for up to five days. This coverage is meant to provide reimbursement for essential items like toiletries, clothing, and cell phone charging cables.

Additionally, the coverage will cover the primary cardholder, the cardholder’s spouse or domestic partner, and any immediate family members.

For more information on the Chase Sapphire Preferred baggage delay benefit, visit the following link on Chase’s website.

 

 

When a bag is lost, both The Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve also provide reimbursement of up to $3,000 per person per trip. This even includes theft. However, there is a $500 cap for high-risk items like jewelry, watches, and electronics.

This coverage will include the primary cardholder and any immediate family members, regardless of whether or not the primary cardholder is traveling with them. But it must be reported immediately after the incident occurs and you will need to provide proof that you submitted a report to the carrier.

For more information on the Chase Sapphire lost luggage benefit, visit the following link on Chase’s website.

As is the case with most of the Chase Sapphire insurance coverage, you must pay for your trip with your Chase Sapphire card or Ultimate Rewards points.

Category Winner: Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve provide the same coverage in this category. Since the Sapphire Preferred has an annual fee of only $95, it’s our choice.

 

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Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

 

Rental Car Insurance Benefits

There are two categories of insurance coverage when it comes to rental cars: primary and secondary. A large majority of travel rewards credit cards in the market place offer secondary coverage on your rental if you pay with the card. Secondary coverage typically comes with a deductible and it only kicks in if you don’t have your own personal car insurance policy. It will likely not cover the entire loss of a vehicle either.

Primary insurance, on the other hand, will cover all damage from collision or theft of most rental cars. If you waive the car rental company’s coverage when renting, these benefits will apply if your vehicle is damaged, lost or stolen and you paid with a card offering primary insurance.

Our favorites in this category are the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred. While the Sapphire Reserve provides a bit more coverage, the Sapphire Preferred should be adequate for most travelers and has a much lower annual fee at only $95.

 

 

One thing to note is that both primary and secondary coverage only insure damage to the rental vehicle itself. Personal injury, personal liability, and damage to other vehicles and/or personal property are not covered under either car rental benefit.

Most rental agencies will build some sort of liability coverage into their rates, but this is something you may want to look into further with your personal insurance policy to see what kind of liability coverage you have.

That being said, a combination of your personal auto insurance policy and the coverage offered by either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve should be more than adequate for most travelers renting a vehicle during their travels.

Category Winner: The Chase Sapphire Preferred (or the Sapphire Reserve) is your best option for a credit card providing primary car rental insurance.

 

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Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

 

And the Winner Is…

If you are going to choose just one credit card to provide coverage for your travels, you’d be hardpressed to find a better option than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It offers a vast array of coverage in the most important categories. Check out the full travel benefits of the card on Chase’s website.

While the card does have a $450 annual fee, it also comes with a $300 travel credit each year that can be used for any expenses that code as travel. This lowers the out of pocket expense to $150.

Add in the fact that the card provides lounge access, earns 3x points per dollar spent on dining and travel and redeems Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents each through the Ultimate Rewards portal and it is easy to see why we’ve named it our number one travel rewards credit card.

The travel insurance coverage this card provides is one of the main reasons I carry this card. For what it costs, the coverage is second to none and provides peace of mind during all travels.

 

 

Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve

 

Bottom Line

Travel insurance is a complicated topic, and there’s no one size fits all option. Ultimately, get a credit card or insurance policy that will give you peace of mind and the ability to enjoy your travels worry free.

 

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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.

3 Responses

  1. peggy mueller says:

    Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit of $300 per year. I want to know how hard it is to book a flight, and how to get the reimbursement. Does the booking need to be done through Chase? I have found many of these cards you have to book through their website, and usually can’t find the cheapest fares listed there (i.e. cheaper on other search engines, thus cheaper to book elsewhere). So how does one book to get the $300 and how does one get reimbursed?

    • Kyle Potter says:

      It applies automatically to any purchase that codes as travel, whether it be a plane ticket, hotel reservation, Uber ride, parking ramp fee, etc. So there’s no need to worry about jumping through hoops for reimbursement – it happens automatically.

      • Kyle B. says:

        I can second this, it is truly seamless. There is nothing you need to do! It is automatic. Book your flight as you normally would and it will automatically give you up to a $300 credit.

        On your benefits page, it gives you a handy

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