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The best travel credit cards with trip delay insurance can get you up to $500 in reimbursement when your flight is delayed

Submitted by Tech Insider on June 23, 2022 - 4:33pm

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The best travel credit cards with trip delay insurance

The travel industry is intrinsically unpredictable. From inclement weather to mechanical issues to absent crew members, there are many reasons why your trip may not commence at its scheduled time of departure. And now with the Omicron variant and winter storms causing even more disruptions, your credit card's trip delay insurance can be more valuable than ever.

Trip delay insurance covers you (and often family members traveling with you) for expenses like meals, transportation, lodging, medication, and toiletries. For example, if your flight is delayed by more than six hours, some travel credit cards will reimburse you up to $500 in "reasonable expenses" such as:

  • An Uber from the airport to a hotel
  • A one-night hotel reservation
  • Dinner at a nearby restaurant

I've (unfortunately) used this benefit a handful of times, and it's saved me hundreds. Just note that you must use your qualifying card to pay for your fare — even if that means simply paying taxes and fees on an award flight.

Read more: Guide to the best airline credit cards

Trip delay insurance applies to more than just flights. You're eligible for coverage whenever you book a "common carrier" — defined as "any land, water, or air conveyance that operates under a valid license to transport passengers for hire and requires purchasing a ticket before travel begins." As long as it's not a taxi, limo, commuter rail, bus, or rental car, you're likely covered.

Below are the best travel credit cards for trip delay insurance. Even if you don't travel regularly, you should be using one of these cards to reserve your travel, because trip delay insurance will come in handy sooner or later.


Best card for all-around travel protection: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the gold standard of trip delay insurance. After just six hours of delay — or any delay that requires an overnight stay — you're eligible for up to $500 in covered expenses per ticket. You and those traveling with you (a spouse and dependent children under 22) are covered.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a Chase Sapphire Reserve® annual fee. Still, it's a favorite among the travel community for its well-rounded offerings of top-tier travel coverages such as baggage delay insurance and primary car rental insurance. The card also provides excellent travel benefits, such as:

Read more: The Chase Sapphire Reserve card will cover a hotel room, meals and other expenses during a flight delay — here's how to take advantage

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® currently offers Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Insider estimates Chase Ultimate Rewards points value to be 1.8 cents each, on average. That makes this bonus worth around Chase Sapphire Reserve® in travel. Read our guide to the best ways to use Chase points.


Best Capital One card for all-around travel protection: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is Capital One's first premium travel credit card. It's a Visa Infinite card (similar to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®), and benefits from extremely generous trip delay insurance***. You'll get up to $500 per ticket in covered expenses after a delay of six hours or more. Those eligible for this insurance are your spouse and dependent children under age 22.

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card incurs a Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card annual fee, but comes with benefits like:

  • Primary rental car insurance and baggage delay insurance
  • Up to $300 per year in statement credits toward Capital One Travel bookings
  • 10,000 bonus miles after each account anniversary (worth at least $100)
  • Airport lounge access (Priority Pass Select and Capital One lounges)

Read more: Capital One Venture X review

This card currently offers Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. That's worth at least Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card in travel — and much more if you know how to use Capital One transfer partners for fancy airplane seats and luxury hotels.


Best beginner card for travel protection: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the best beginner travel credit card on the market because of its easy-to-use rewards, high-quality travel benefits, and manageable Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card annual fee. The card reimburses you for up to $500 per ticket for reasonable expenses when your flight is delayed by 12 hours or more, or if you're required to stay overnight. Family members are covered — that is, your spouse/domestic partner and any dependent children under age 26.

You'll also receive perks like:

Read more: Chase Sapphire Preferred review

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. That's worth an average of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card in travel, based on Insider's points and miles valuations.


Best Hyatt card for travel protection: The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card offers the same trip delay insurance you'll find on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. If your travel plans are delayed more than 12 hours or require an overnight stay, you and your family (spouse/domestic partner and dependent children under age 26) can be reimbursed for necessary expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket. 

The card comes with an annual fee of The World Of Hyatt Credit Card, and also offers:

  • Additional travel coverages (such as car rental insurance and baggage delay insurance)
  • One free night at a Category 1 through 4 Hyatt hotel after each account anniversary (potentially worth hundreds of dollars)
  • Another free night at a Category 1 through 4 Hyatt hotel after spending $15,000 in a calendar year
  • Five elite night credits toward Hyatt elite status — and the ability to earn two additional credits for every $5,000 you spend in a calendar year
  • Automatic Hyatt Discoverist status

Read more: World of Hyatt Credit Card review

If you're a Hyatt enthusiast, this is an excellent card to consider. Its current welcome bonus is The World Of Hyatt Credit Card. 60,000 Hyatt points are worth around The World Of Hyatt Credit Card in hotel stays, based on Insider's valuations — but it's not difficult to receive more value from them if you know the best ways to use Hyatt points.


Best United card for travel protection with a low annual fee: United℠ Explorer Card

With the United℠ Explorer Card, trip delay insurance will activate after a delay of 12 hours or more, or if your delay requires an overnight stay. You and your family will be covered for up to $500 per ticket for covered expenses.

The United℠ Explorer Card has such well-rounded benefits that we consider it to be one of the best cards on the market. For an annual fee of United℠ Explorer Card, you'll get perks like:

Read more: Chase United Explorer review

The card currently offers United℠ Explorer Card. That's worth around United℠ Explorer Card in flights, based on Insider's valuations. Read our guide to using United miles to understand how powerful they can be.


Best Amex card for all-around travel protection: The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express provides above-average trip delay insurance. When booking round-trip travel, coverage will kick in after just six hours of delay. You'll be reimbursed for up to $500 in reasonable expenses per ticket for you and any family members traveling with you — that is, a spouse/domestic partner and unmarried dependent children up to age 19 (or full-time students at an accredited college or university under age 26).

You can use this benefit no more than twice per consecutive 12-month period.

The The Platinum Card® from American Express charges an annual fee of The Platinum Card® from American Express (The Platinum Card® from American Express - Rates & Fees) — a bit intimidating for many, but its ongoing benefits can easily offset that cost. Here are just a few annual statement credits that come with the card:

Read more: American Express Platinum Card review

The The Platinum Card® from American Express offers The Platinum Card® from American Express. Insider values Amex Membership Rewards points at 1.8 cents each, on average. That means you can get about The Platinum Card® from American Express in value from the 100,000-point bonus.


Best Marriott card for travel protection: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

When you book round-trip travel with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, trip delay insurance will trigger after a delay of six hours or more. You're entitled to $500 in reasonable expenses per ticket for you and any family members traveling with you (spouse/domestic partner and unmarried dependent children up to age 19 or full-time students at an accredited college or university under age 26). You can file two claims per 12-month period.

This card charges an annual fee of Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card per year (Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - Rates & Fees) — but it's worth the price tag for anyone who spends at least $300 with Marriott each year. You'll get perks like:

Read more: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card review

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card offers a substantial welcome bonus: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. Based on our valuations, that bonus is worth Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card in travel.


Best Hilton card for travel protection: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card offers trip delay insurance after a delay of six hours. You'll get up to $500 in reasonable expenses per ticket for you and family members traveling with you (spouse/domestic partner, as well as unmarried dependent children up to age 19 or full-time students at an accredited college or university under age 26). Your travel must be round-trip. You can use this benefit up to twice per 12-month period.

This is one of the few cards that receive a full five-star review from Insider. Its benefits so dramatically outweigh its Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card annual fee (Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card - Rates & Fees) that it's worth keeping year after year:

Read more: Amex Hilton Aspire review

Plus, the card offers Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Per our valuations, that's worth Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card in Hilton hotel stays — though it's possible to get quite a bit more value if you know the best ways to redeem Hilton points.


Best no-annual-fee card for travel protection: Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card is a no-annual-fee card with trip delay insurance that punches in the same weight class as many $95 annual fee cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

If your trip is delayed by more than 12 hours, or requires an overnight stay, you and immediate family are eligible for up to $500 per passenger in reasonable expenses. Family members include your spouse/domestic partner and any legally dependent children under the age of 26. You can only use the benefit once per person per covered trip.

For a no-annual-fee card, you'll also receive great delayed baggage insurance: Up to $100 per day (maximum of five days) once your bag is delayed more than six hours.

Read more: Marriott Bonvoy Bold review

As for Marriott-centric benefits, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card's only noteworthy benefit is 15 annual elite night credits — a big help toward achieving Marriott elite status. The card's current bonus is Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card. Per Insider's valuations, that's worth around Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card in travel. Read our guide to redeeming Marriott points for secrets as to how you can get much more value from this bonus.


How we chose the best credit cards for trip delay insurance

Personal Finance Insider chose the top credit cards for trip delay insurance based on:

  • The amount of money you'll receive in the event of a delay
  • The amount of time it takes for trip delay insurance to kick-in

Many cards offer identical trip delay insurance, so we've also considered the overall value each credit card offers — from heightened welcome bonuses to ongoing benefits that handily offset each card's annual fee.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What's the difference between trip delay insurance and trip cancellation/interruption insurance?

Trip delay insurance covers you after your trip has begun, and you're either in transit to your destination or you're headed home. If something happens that severely delays your flight, or if you miss a connection that puts you several hours behind schedule, you may be eligible for hundreds of dollars in compensation for "reasonable expenses" via trip delay insurance.

Trip cancellation insurance covers you before your trip even begins. If a covered hazard arises that prevents you from going on your trip (think car accident on the way to the airport, death in the family, etc.) you may be reimbursed for non-refundable travel. This does not give you the freedom to cancel your trip simply because you've decided not to go.

Read more: 6 credit cards with the most comprehensive travel insurance — from trip cancellation to lost luggage

For example, I once booked a trip to Norway and broke my clavicle a few weeks before my flight. I obtained a doctor's note advising against flying, and my card's trip cancellation insurance reimbursed me for the trip.

Trip interruption insurance covers you during your trip (in other words, the part between your commute, covered by trip delay insurance). Some examples that would trigger trip interruption include:

  • You get very sick during your trip and must return home
  • Severe weather causes you to leave early
  • Your hotel is "uninhabitable"

Trip interruption insurance can reimburse you for non-refundable travel including your remaining hotel bill, any unused land, air, or sea arrangements, and change fees.

What does trip delay insurance cover?

While this answer may vary slightly depending on which card you have, trip delay insurance tends to cover you (and family traveling with you) for things like:

  • Hotel stays
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Toiletries
  • Medication

You'll be covered for travel on any "common carrier", which includes things like airlines and cruises. Some covered hazards for trip delay insurance include:

  • Equipment failure
  • Inclement weather
  • Labor strikes
  • Hijacking

Some credit cards offer trip delay insurance that activates after just six hours. More commonly, the insurance will activate after 12 hours.

Are cards with trip delay insurance worth it?

Trip delay insurance should be one of the biggest factors when choosing your travel credit card. If you travel with regularity, the benefit can save you many hundreds of dollars each year — particularly in the current era of coronavirus-fueled mayhem within the travel industry. Flight delays and cancellations are becoming a common occurrence.

Read more: The best travel rewards cards of 2022

While trip delay insurance specifies that you'll be covered for "reasonable expenses," this doesn't relegate you to bare-bones accommodation. During a recent trip delay, My Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card paid for my lodging at a Grand Hyatt (one of the highest-rated hotels in the city) and my pricey meals at the hotel restaurant. I was reimbursed within a couple of weeks for hundreds of dollars in expenses.

Do I have to pay with my card?

You must pay for the entire fare with your eligible card. However, you can still use miles and points to reserve your flight. As long as you pay the entire cash portion of your fare (the taxes and fees), your card will cover your trip.

Is Chase trip delay insurance better than Amex trip delay insurance?

Many cards from both Amex and Chase offer similar trip delay insurance — though there appears to be one standout difference in the terms: American Express requires that you book round-trip travel, and Chase does not.

According to American Express, a covered trip "may consist of roundtrip, one-way, or combinations of roundtrip and one-way tickets with Common Carrier(s)." However, it also specifies that the trip "ends when the Eligible Traveler returns by Common Carrier to the city of departure."

It's worth noting that Citi credit cards come with absolutely zero travel insurance of any kind. Booking travel with a Citi credit card is unwise, as you'll have to pay for all travel complications out of your own pocket.

Compare Insider's picks for the best travel insurance »


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