American Express Adding Trip Delay to Premium Cards, Devaluing Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty

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Citibank eliminated most of their ancillary benefits across the bulk of their portfolio of credit cards, including trip delay; baggage delay; lost luggage and more. It’s a cost saving move and Citi bets that the (literally just) couple bucks they save per cardmember won’t actually move the needle on consumer spending. Most people don’t know about or take advantage of these benefits.

Right on the heels of this move American Express is adding some of these benefits to their most premium cards. Again, it’s just a few dollars per cardmember to offer ancillary protections and it’s a surprise to many cardholders that American Express hasn’t offered trip delay coverage to date.

I often get notes from readers assuring me that they’re covered for trip delay, since they’re paying with their Platinum Card® from American Express. You’d think so except this benefit is actually going to be new.

Zach Honig reports on new trip delay and trip cancellation benefits that American Express is adding to certain premium cards, and changes they’re making to extended warranty and purchase protection – as well as two ancillary benefits they’re dropping.

Trip Delay Coverage

One of the big shortcomings of putting airfare spend on an American Express card has been the lack of coverage for a trip when you do. So while you earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar putting airfare on the Platinum Card® from American Express and 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar booking airfare at with the Business Platinum® Card from American Express you had to give up trip cancellation and delay coverage to get the higher earn.

However starting January 1 American Express is adding trip delay to several cards.

  • Applies to roundtrip tickets (not one ways)
  • Must pay the full cost with your eligible card
  • If the full cost is taxes when redeeming an award that counts, and if you use Amex Pay With Points to redeem for a trip that counts too.

Several of the most premium cards offer $500 per trip coverage with a delay of 6 hours or more, which is actually very generous (no overnight delay required). That means you can get reimbursed on eligible claims for hotels, meals and related items during your delay.

In addition to the Platinum Card® from American Express and Business Platinum® Card from American Express this benefit applies to the premium top level Delta, Hilton, and Marriott cards.

Some of the American Express mid-market cards will add $300 per trip coverage with a delay of 12 hours or more. That’s weaker than most cards with the benefit, but still a nice add-on that helps charging airfare (and earning 3 Membership Rewards per dollar) easier with the American Express® Gold Card.

In addition to the American Express® Gold Card this benefit applies to the American Express® Business Gold Card, the Green card and the mid-tier Delta cards.

Trip Cancellation

Also January 1st roundtrip flights booked with an eligible American Express card that are cancelled for a ‘covered reason’ such as weather, illness or injury to a covered traveler, terrorism, or jury duty you may be reimbursed for non-refundable expenses up to $10,000 per trip (and up to $20,000 per card account per rolling 12 month period).

This is available just on the most premium cards, as with the better trip delay coverage it will be offered with the Platinum Card® from American Express and Business Platinum® Card from American Express and the premium top level Delta, Hilton, and Marriott cards.

You qualify for this benefit even on award travel as long as you pay all taxes and fees with the eligible card.

Benefits American Express is Taking Away

Along with these new benefits Amex is cost-cutting, too.

Extended warranty and purchase protection is being devalued effective January 1. Cards with these benefits will only offer a year of extended warranty instead of two years (and some no fee cards won’t have extended warranty at all such as Amex Everyday and Blue Cash Everyday). Cards with purchase protection see that benefit drop from 120 days down to 90 days.

They’re also dropping Travel Accident Insurance – hopefully you don’t need coverage for death or dismemberment during a trip – as well as Roadside Assistance which is especially disappointing. I found that the Platinum Card® from American Express had a better towing benefit than AAA or my other credit cards and I did use it.

Overall Positive

As a frequent flyer who buys a lot of airline tickets, and as a Platinum Card® from American Express (and American Express® Gold Card) cardholders, I like these changes and will benefit from them since it’ll free me to earn 5x on air without giving up key travel protections.

For folks making large purchases, where extended warranty is relevant, this is an unfortunate tradeoff.

What I find most interesting is that news comes right after Citibank killed just about all of their ancillary coverages in exchange for what I understand is small ball savings.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. TPG clarified and said that Amex’s premium roadside assistance (4 free uses per year) will remain.

    Only the regular roadside assistance hotline (pay per use) is being eliminated.

  2. Ditto ymx- I frequently purchase one-way tickets, either with award tickets or for domestic travel where one airline doesn’t offer the best price for both legs. Another example of classic Amex benefit breakage.

  3. As long as you return to your city of origin, you will be covered I believe. So two one-ways should be ok.

  4. Applying the benefit only to round-trip flights is likely just a way to reduce their risk (costs). They can market the benefit but apply it to fewer purchases.

  5. I don’t see anything about return protection on your site, but DD says it will only be for top-tier cards starting 1/1?

  6. This is amazing. I’m aware of Avios for domestic travel, but If Amex offered a good domestic transfer partner like Southwest, Hyatt, or a portal like the CSR where you can redeem points for 1.5 cents per point, my Chase cards would be goners.

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