4 credit cards with the most comprehensive travel insurance — from trip cancellation to lost luggage

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The best credit cards for travel coverage:

  • The most comprehensive coverage: Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Best with a sub-$100 annual fee: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
  • Best business card with travel insurance: Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
  • Runner-up: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Credit card trip cancellation/interruption insurance may not be as exciting as a 100,000-point sign-up bonus or bonus rewards on dining, but it can be even more valuable. Especially now that the coronavirus is impacting travel plans and leading many to rethink upcoming vacations or work trips, having a card that reimburses you for non-refundable flights and other expenses can be a game-changer. 

 

 

Here's everything you need to know about credit card travel insurance, along with the four best credit cards offering the most comprehensive coverage.

We're focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won't be worth it if you're paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it's important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Credit card travel insurance: the different types of coverage

Several types of protections fall under the umbrella of credit card travel insurance. 

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance — This protects you if you're no longer able to go on a covered trip or your covered trip is interrupted mid-travel for reasons such as illness, injury, weather, or a terrorist incident. This is the type of coverage you'd invoke if you needed to adjust your travel plans due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
  • Trip delay insurance — If your covered trip is delayed by a specified number of hours due to a covered reason and will cover expenses like meals and lodging (up to a specified maximum) 
  • Baggage delay insurance — This coverage provides reimbursement for essentials like clothes and a toothbrush if your luggage is delayed on a covered trip. 
  • Lost luggage insurance — If your carry-on or checked baggage goes missing, this coverage could reimburse you up to a specified amount.
  • Rental car insurance — Many credit cards offer either primary or secondary car rental insurance, so you can waive the coverage offered for an additional fee when you rent a car. With primary car rental insurance, in the event of damage or theft your credit card coverage will kick in before your personal insurance. With secondary insurance, the coverage kicks in after whatever other insurance is in place.
  • Travel accident insurance — This is the kind of insurance you'll hopefully never have to invoke. 
  • Emergency evacuation insurance — If you're injured or otherwise incapacitated and need to be evacuated, this coverage would reimburse expenses such as a helicopter evacuation.

Before we dive into the details for the best credit cards that offer travel insurance, it's important to note that you generally have to pay for your travel with a card that offers trip coverage in order to receive the benefits.

In other words, if you book your flight and hotels with a debit card but you also happen to have the Chase Sapphire Preferredwith extensive trip insurance, don't expect to be able to cash in on Chase's coverage perks if anything goes wrong during your travels. However, the good news is that in most cases, paying for even just a portion of your trip with a credit card that offers insurance should entitle you to coverage. Additionally, redeeming a given credit card's rewards to book your travel should make you eligible for coverage.

Read more: An emergency flight to the hospital could set you back $40,000 — unless you have one of 2 credit cards with medical evacuation coverage

The best credit cards for travel insurance

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is technically the best credit card for travel insurance, because across the board it offers the most generous coverage policies. However, when it comes to trip cancellation/interruption insurance — the type of coverage you'd need to use in the event of illness such as the flu — its coverage is identical to other cards', such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred with a lower annual fee.

The most comprehensive option: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual fee: $550

Welcome bonus: 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: Reimbursement of up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses like plane tickets, hotel reservations and hotels
  • Trip delay insurance: Up to $500 per ticket in coverage for expenses like meals and lodging (that aren't reimbursed by the airline or other "common carrier") when your trip is delayed more than six hours or requires an overnight stay
  • Baggage delay insurance: Up to $100 in reimbursement per day for up to five days for essential purchases like clothing and toiletries for baggage delays of six hours or more
  • Lost luggage reimbursement: Up to $3,000 per person if you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost
  • Rental car coverage: Primary coverage; up to $75,000 for theft and collision for rental cars in the US and abroad. Note that liability coverage isn't included in any credit card auto collision damage waiver.
  • Travel accident insurance: Up to $1,000,000 of accidental death or dismemberment coverage
  • Emergency evacuation coverage: Up to $100,000 to cover you, your spouse/domestic partner, and/or legally dependent children for emergency evacuation and related emergency medical services

The Sapphire Reserve offers the best travel insurance across the board, though it does charge a hefty $550 annual fee. However, if you're a frequent traveler, there's a good chance you can take advantage of benefits like up to $300 in annual statement credits that automatically apply to travel purchases like airfare, hotels, parking tolls, and rideshares.

Read more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve card review
  • Why a consultant recommends the Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • The top 10 benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve 

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Chase Sapphire Reserve®Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Solid travel coverage for a sub-$100 travel card: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Annual fee: $95

Welcome bonus: 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: Reimbursement of up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses like plane tickets, hotel reservations, and hotels
  • Trip delay insurance: Up to $500 per ticket in coverage for expenses like meals and lodging (that aren't reimbursed by the airline or other "common carrier") when your trip is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay
  • Baggage delay insurance: Up to $100 in reimbursement per day for up to five days for essential purchases like clothing and toiletries for baggage delays of six hours or more
  • Lost luggage reimbursement: Up to $3,000 per person if you or an immediate family member check or carry on luggage that is damaged or lost
  • Rental car coverage: Primary coverage; up to the actual cash value of the rental car for theft and collision for rental cars in the US and abroad. Note that this doesn't include liability coverage.
  • Travel accident insurance: Up to $500,000 of accidental death or dismemberment coverage
  • Emergency evacuation coverage: N/A

There are a few main differences between the Chase Sapphire Preferred's coverage and the Chase Sapphire Reserve's coverage. The first is that trip delay insurance kicks in earlier on the Reserve — after a delay of six or more hours versus after a delay or 12 or more hours. The maximum coverage amount for travel accident insurance is also higher on the Reserve: up to $1,000,000 versus up to $500,000. 

Another difference is that while both cards offer travel accident insurance, only the Sapphire Reserve offers emergency evacuation insurance. Finally, the terms for rental car coverage are also different on the Preferred card: You're covered for up to the actual cash value of the rental car, as opposed to up to $75,000 on the Reserve.

Read more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred card review
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. the Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • 5 reasons why the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still one of the best travel credit cards you can get

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardChase Ink Business Preferred® Credit CardCrystal Cox/Business Insider

The second-best option after premium Chase cards: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee: $550

Welcome bonus: 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months

  • Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: Reimbursement of up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per card for pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses like plane tickets, hotel reservations, and hotels in a consecutive 12-month period
  • Trip delay insurance: Up to $500 per ticket in coverage for expenses like meals and lodging (that aren't reimbursed by the airline or other "common carrier") when your trip is delayed more than six hours or requires an overnight stay — with a maximum of two claims per eligible card in a consecutive 12-month period
  • Baggage delay insurance: N/A
  • Lost luggage reimbursement: Up to $2,000 per covered person for checked luggage, up to $3,000 per person for carry-on luggage
  • Rental car coverage: Secondary coverage; up to $75,000 per rental agreement for damage or theft
  • Travel accident insurance: Up to $500,000 of accidental death or dismemberment coverage
  • Emergency evacuation coverage: Up to $100,000 to cover you, your spouse/domestic partner, and/or legally dependent children for emergency evacuation and related emergency medical services

American Express added trip cancellation and trip delay insurance to some of its cards in 2020, which means the Amex Platinum card's now an even stronger choice for frequent travelers who want to take advantage of benefits like Uber credits and 5x points on flights booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel.

Many of its travel insurance benefits come with more restrictions than Chase's policies, such as the limit of up to two claims per consecutive 12-month period for the trip cancellation and trip delay benefits, but hopefully you'll never have to take advantage of this coverage more than twice a year.

The Platinum Card doesn't offer baggage delay insurance; only lost baggage insurance — another way its coverage differs from what you'll find with Chase cards. One added benefit to having a premium Amex card is the issuer's Global Assist Hotline, which can provide help if you need a medical referral, lost passport replacement, translation services, legal help, or more when you're traveling more than 100 miles from home. Note that you'll still have to pay for any non-covered services that the hotline helps you arrange.

Read more about the Amex Platinum Card:

  • Amex Platinum card review
  • 5 reasons to choose the Amex Platinum over the Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • 8 things to do when you get the Amex Platinum to get $2,000 in value in your first year

The Platinum Card® from American Express

American Express The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual Fee
Regular APR
Credit Score
  • A five pointed star
  • A five pointed star
  • A five pointed star
  • A five pointed star
  • 4.75 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating

    Chevron iconIt indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

    Annual Fee

    $550

    Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

    Credit Score

    ExcellentA five pointed star

  • A five pointed star
  • A five pointed star
  • A five pointed star
  • A five pointed star
  • 4.75 out of 5 Stars
    Editor's Rating
    Featured Reward

    60,000 points after your spend at least $5,000 in your first 3 months of account opening

    Intro APR

    N/AChevron iconIt indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

  • Details
  • Pros & Cons
    • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
    • Enjoy VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
    • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
    • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
    • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more when you select one qualifying airline.
    • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
    • $550 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.
    Pros
    • Long list of travel benefits, including airport lounge access and complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott
    • Annual statement credits with Saks and Uber
    Cons
    • Bonus categories leave something to be desired (no bonus rewards on general travel or dining)
    • One of the highest annual fees among premium travel cards

     

    Frequently asked questions

    Which credit card has the best travel insurance?

    The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has the most comprehensive travel insurance, covering everything from trip cancellations and interruptions to emergency medical evacuations. The other options on this list — including the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Platinum Card, and the Ink Business Preferred — offer very strong travel insurance as well.

    Do most cards offer travel insurance?

    Most rewards credit cards offer some degree of travel insurance, but the specifics can vary wildly from card to card. For example, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers travel accident insurance and car rental insurance through Visa, but it doesn't offer trip cancellation or interruption insurance. Additionally, Citi eliminated most elements of its travel coverage from cards in late 2019.

    If my credit card has travel coverage, do I need to buy additional travel insurance?

    If you have one of the credit cards featured in this guide, you may not need an additional travel insurance policy. However, make sure you read the fine print of your credit card's benefits guides to make sure the travel coverage is sufficient for your needs — and so you don't have any unpleasant surprises like finding out you aren't eligible for coverage when it's too late.

    On the other hand, if you want some extra peace of mind, or if there's a good chance you may cancel your non-refundable trip, it's worth looking into supplementary travel insurance. Also keep in mind that you may need to purchase travel insurance if you're traveling for an extended period, since most credit card travel insurance only applies for about a month-long trip.

    Who is covered by credit card travel insurance?

    Refer to your credit card's benefits guide, but as a general rule credit card travel insurance applies to the cardholder and the cardholder's immediate family. 

    What isn't covered by credit card travel insurance?

    Each credit card travel insurance policy is different, so it's important to look at your specific card's benefits guide to make sure you know exactly what is and what is not covered. (And when in doubt, don't be afraid to call the card issuer for clarification!) 

    Your credit card travel insurance won't cover a trip that you don't purchase with the card, though in some cases paying for a trip in full or in part with that card's rewards points will qualify you for coverage.

    Other areas where potential exclusions could crop up are covered reasons (if your trip is canceled or delayed because decide to change your plans, not because of illness or weather), covered trip length (most credit card travel insurance is capped at a certain amount of time, usually around a month), and covered destination (if you're traveling to a region where your card's coverage doesn't apply).

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