How to Save Up to $500 Each Time You Face a Big Flight Delay

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred has been a consistent go-to for the past six years because of:

  • Signup bonus: 50,000 bonus points after $4000 in spending within 3 months, plus 5000 more points for adding an authorized user to the account and making a purchase during the same time period.

  • Fast earning: double points on all travel and dining: not just air and not just hotels, but both and cars and taxis and tolls, plus meals on the road.

  • Valuable points: that transfer to your choice of airline (United, Korean, British Airways, Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest) covering all the major alliances and more plus several hotel programs (Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, IHG Rewards Club).

    chase sapphire preferred benefits
    Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

But it’s also a great card that covers your purchases and your travels when things go wrong. How do some of the premium cards compare in this way?

Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige Card will cover up to $500 in expenses when you are delayed 3 or more hours.

You must be on a round trip ticket (trip not to exceed 60 days) and the $500 benefit applies to each spouse (or domestic partner) or dependent (under 19) that’s delayed whose ticket you charged to the card.

Premium Chase Cards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and also other premium co-brand airline and hotel cards from Chase will cover up to $500 in expenses when you are delayed 12 or more hours or delayed overnight.

You must be on a round trip ticket (trip not to exceed a year) and have charged at least a portion of your ticket to the card.

The $500 benefit applies to each spouse or dependent (under age 22) that’s delayed whose ticket you charged to the card.

Since you only have to charge a portion of a ticket to the card, coverage applies even to award travel which isn’t always the case with Citi cards — Citi cobrands require you to pay the full cost of tickets including taxes and fees using the eligible card.

What Cards Don’t Offer This Coverage

Barclaycard products don’t include trip delay coverage. For instance while the Arrival Plus has trip cancellation and baggage delay coverage it does not cover you for trip delay.

What Can Be Reimbursed

Save your receipts, and document that your travel was delayed and the reason for the delay.

You’ll be able to get reimbursed up to $500 per ticket for expenses you need during your delay, such as clothes, ground transportation (such as to and from a hotel), hotel night, meals, rental car, toiletries, and even medication.

Coverage doesn’t apply to delays you were notified of in advance, tips, alcohol (presumably not because they’re puritans but due to local laws), if your delay is your own fault such as because you overslept and missed your flight. Most coverage also doesn’t apply to one-way flights.

Don’t wait to file the claim. Citibank, for instance, requires you to call them within 30 days of the delay and submit all documentation within 90 days of the delay. Chase requires you to call within 60 days of the delay and submit all documentation within 100 days of the delay.

Call the number of the back of your card and ask to talk to a benefits administrator to process a claim. You’re going to need to submit your ticket receipt and also at least a redacted version of your credit card statement showing you used the card for the purchase. You’re going to also have to show things like receipts for your expenses and documentation of the covered delay.

Which Card to Use?

If you’re buying one-way tickets or you’re buying travel for someone other than yourself, a spouse, or dependents you’re out of luck.

If you’re buying a paid roundtrip ticket, then the Citi Prestige Card is your best bet for coverage. You get coverage for delays as little as 3 hours and you earn triple points on airfare.

If you’re buying an award ticket, I like Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for coverage. Charge the taxes and fees to your card to trigger coverage, you’re covered for a 12 hour delay or an overnight delay, this is most useful for award tickets with fuel surcharges because you’re not going to be covered for more than the amount actually charged to the card.

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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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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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. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. I have read on multiple other sites that Prestige will work on award tickets as long as you paid the $5.60 or $11.20 fees with the card. Can anyone further confirm or deny?

  2. Same question as JL100, are you sure Citi Prestige requires full cost of ticket be paid with the card?

  3. Where’s the love for the chase reserved that kick in only 6 hours of delay? Did you forget about this card or is it becaus there’s no refer link?

  4. Having had claims like this in the past. If it’s a minor weather event they will likely have you submit proof of the event. That can be tough at times. Last time I had this happen it was because it was late in the day and the NYC airports had long ground stops due to thunderstorms. Not enough to really make the news just enough to cancel late day flights like mine. I was tough to prove this after the fact.

  5. How delayed does the flight need to be. Most of my delays seem to be in the 1.5-3 hours which end up me missing connections, paying for meals, additional parking fees etc. Do any cards offer shorter delay insurance?

  6. @DaninMCI can’t you ask the airline for a military excuse? It’s basically a letter stating the reason for the delay, you can use that for proof to deal with the insurance

  7. As @Ron mentioned, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers $500 trip reimbursement coverage for delays of 6 hours or more. That’s less generous than the Citi Prestige (benefits kick in after a delay of only 3 hours+) but better than the Sapphire Preferred (delays of 12 hours+).

    Of these (3) cards, only the Sapphire Preferred has no annual fee the first year, which is a plus.

  8. I am confused by Gary’s last statement, “…this is most useful for award tickets with fuel surcharges because you’re not going to be covered for more than the amount actually charged to the card.” Huh?

    Say for instance, that I and my family totalling 3 people fly on an award flight and the complete $120 in fees and taxes are paid on my CSR card. If we are delayed (with all the right criteria met) and had to spend $250 on a hotel room, would I only be able to claim up to $120 of a $250 because that is the total I paid for the tickets?

  9. I would love it and give you my referral link business for life, if you put up and kept updated an exhaustive matrix of which. major cards cover what, caps, delay trigger thresholds, etc especially with respect to awards. It’s a confusing patchwork when it comes to award tickets. Like Chase only covering awards from programs they’re associated with. Ie- Southwest, yes. American, no.

  10. And the major issuers keep changing it from time to time to keep up with each other. A few years ago awards werent covered at all .

  11. @JL100, from a recent reading of the terms, it appears you are correct.

    From my reading of the terms of the major 3 banks, I put tickets associated with Chase UR partners on INK/Sapphire, and everything else on Citi Premier. And nothing on Amex Plat, unless there’s some other financial reason to do so

  12. All with respect to award tickets. Revenue tickets aren’t as complicated and can go on any card but (US) Amex Plat, which only offers bag coverage.

  13. It’s worth noting my experience with the CSR (which should have been mentioned here…). If you charge drinks to the hotel room, your checkout statement usually only shows the restaurant name and not the itemized bill. This was sufficient enough for my approved claim.

  14. Gary, re: Citi Prestige Tip Delay benefit. I’m confused about your statement, “You must be on a round trip ticket.” I just filed a claim for a one-way ticket trip delay that was paid for on my Prestige card, and I didn’t see any language in the benefits about the ticket needing to be round-trip. Can you clarify? Thanks!

  15. Remiss to not note that Chase only covers award tickets for UR transfer partners. Putting taxes and fees for DL/AS/AA on your Chase card will get you nowhere.

  16. Last year my wife and I used award tickets RT business to EU with Lufthansa. I paid $900 in taxes for both. The return flight was cancelled for bad weather till the next day and we had to pay additionally $400 for our last separate tickets change with United to get home which was paid by City prestige. We paid United with different credit card I believe, just needed a letter from Lufthansa for the reason for delay, Chase covers “bad weather” and partial credit card payments but will not reimburse more then the amount you paid.

  17. @Gary: You wrote “If you’re buying an award ticket, I like Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for coverage. Charge the taxes and fees to your card to trigger coverage, you’re covered for a 12 hour delay or an overnight delay, this is most useful for award tickets with fuel surcharges because you’re not going to be covered for more than the amount actually charged to the card.”

    I just checked the benefits guide for my Sapphire Reserve card, and it doesn’t say anything about coverage being limited to the amount charged to the card. Is the guarantee different on the Reserve than the Preferred? Or is the limit not mentioned in the guide to benefits?

  18. I booked my recent Shanghai trip with Citi Prestige points and there was a flight cancellation requiring a overnight stay. Citi Prestige covered the hotel stay and the meals, also reimbursed the card within one business day ($240).

  19. Also, my trip was one way from Shanghai to Chicago. There are no rules that it has to be a return trip. I love Citi Prestige card for 4th night free stay, great travel interruption protection and primary car rental coverage overseas.

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