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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®
- Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits (offsets the first $300 in travel you purchase each year with the card)
- Airport lounge access (Priority Pass Select and, eventually, Chase lounges)
- Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or NEXUS application fee credit
Best Capital One card for all-around travel protection:
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- 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
Best beginner card for travel protection:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
You'll also receive perks like:
- Primary rental car insurance
- Baggage delay insurance
- Up to $50 in annual statement credits toward hotel stays booked through Chase
- 10% anniversary point bonus
Read more: Chase Sapphire Preferred review
Best Hyatt card for travel protection:
The World Of Hyatt Credit Card
The card comes with an annual fee of
- 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
Best United card for travel protection with a low annual fee:
United℠ Explorer Card
- Free first checked bag on United flights (you must pay with the card)
- Priority boarding with United
- Two United Club one-time passes after each cardmember anniversary
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
- Improved award seat availability
Read more: Chase United Explorer review
The card currently offers
Best Amex card for all-around travel protection:
The Platinum Card® from American Express
You can use this benefit no more than twice per consecutive 12-month period.
- Up to $200 in Uber Cash each calendar year**
- Comprehensive airport lounge access (Priority Pass**, Centurion lounges, etc.)
- Up to $200 in airline fee credits** each calendar year
- Up to $200 in credits per year toward prepaid hotel bookings through Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts or The Hotel Collection (minimum two-night stay)
- $12.95 in credits each month toward Walmart+ membership
Read more: American Express Platinum Card review
Best Marriott card for travel protection:
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
When you book round-trip travel with the
This card charges an annual fee of
- Up to $300 in annual statement credit for purchases at Marriott hotels (offer ends 9/22/22 and will be replaced with a benefit of up to $25 in statement credits per month for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide)
- Annual free night award worth up to 50,000 points (potentially worth hundreds)
- 15 elite night credits each calendar year (helpful if you're trying to earn Platinum elite status or higher)
- Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status
Read more: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card review
Best Hilton card for travel protection:
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
This is one of the few cards that receive a full five-star review from Insider. Its benefits so dramatically outweigh its
- Free weekend night award at any Hilton property worldwide (potentially worth $1,000+)
- Up to $250 annual credit valid at Hilton resorts
- Up to $250 annual airline incidental fee credit**
- Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership** (worth at least $429)
- Hilton Diamond elite status (the highest status you can earn)
Read more: Amex Hilton Aspire review
Plus, the card offers
Best no-annual-fee card for travel protection:
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit 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
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.
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
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
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
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.