The Best Credit Cards for Travel Insurance: A Beginner's Guide

Many of the best travel credit cards not only earn you rewards points, but they also offer travel insurance that could bring you peace of mind.
Last updated Jun 3, 2021 | By Christy Rakoczy
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Traveling can be a ton of fun, but on every trip there’s potential for things to go wrong. From misplaced bags to vacations you paid for but are unable to take at the last minute, problems can occur at any phase of your trip. And these hiccups can sometimes be quite costly.

Fortunately, many of the best travel credit cards not only earn you rewards points that could be redeemed for things like nearly free airfare, but they also offer travel insurance that provides protection when issues arise. 

Check out our list of some of the best credit cards for travel insurance below to learn more about the various offers available from a number of credit card issuers. We chose these cards based on their insurance covered, but also to show the variety of credit card offers available that earn different rewards and provide a variety of perks.

In this article

What does travel insurance cover?

The specific protections you’ll get vary by card, but some of the most common types of insurance credit cards provide include:

  • Trip cancellation or trip delay insurance to reimburse you for losses when your vacation can’t go forward as planned.
  • Coverage for lost or delayed baggage so you can be reimbursed if you have to replace items when your luggage is lost permanently. You could also get reimbursed to buy clothing and toiletries while you wait for your delayed luggage to arrive.
  • Accident or death insurance to provide compensation if a tragedy occurs on your trip.
  • Medical evacuation coverage to transport you to a hospital if you require care you can’t get at your travel destination.
  • Collision damage waivers or loss damage waivers (CDW or LDW): This type of insurance protects you if a rental car is stolen or damaged while under your care. A CDW or LDW can pay for the costs of repairs and sometimes for other expenses, such as the rental company’s loss of use of the vehicle while it’s out of commission.

The travel insurance coverage your card provides can be quite valuable. If you were to buy your own travel policy from an insurance company, you could pay an average of $105 for basic coverage up to $164 for a more comprehensive policy, according to a recent study by ValuePenguin.

Similarly, lost luggage benefits on your credit card could reimburse you for several thousand dollars in possessions that can’t be recovered if your baggage never makes it back to you after you put it on a bus, train, or plane. While you’ll need to check your card’s terms and conditions to find out the maximum compensation for lost luggage, it’s common for cards to set a $3,000 limit on the amount of reimbursement available.

Be aware of the fine print

While credit cards with trip cancellation benefits or similar protections are common, there’s usually some fine print to be aware of. For example, some common caveats include the following:

  • Your trip may not be considered to be a covered trip if it was cancelled because of a preexisting medical condition or a change in travel plans or financial circumstances. Your credit card details should inform you of the covered reasons for making an eligible claim.
  • You must report any covered losses within a specific timeframe. For example, to make a claim for lost luggage insurance, you may have to alert the common carrier upon exiting that your luggage has been lost.
  • Your credit card’s travel insurance often serves as secondary insurance, which means you must take advantage of other coverages available — such as airline reimbursement for lost luggage — before your credit card will reimburse you.
  • Receipts or other documented proof of loss are usually required to file any type of claims with your credit card travel insurance.

Credit cards with travel insurance

There are many different travel credit cards that come with various types of insurance. These cards could be powerful in earning you Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, or other travel rewards, but they can also give you some peace of mind. The table below shows some of the protections offered by popular credit cards:

Card What does it cover?
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
  • Travel accident insurance: Covers accidental death and dismemberment when traveling on a common carrier.
  • Global Assist hotline: Provides 24/7 access to medical, financial, or legal advice or coordination of emergency assistance during travels.
Capital One Venture
  • Travel accident insurance: Covered losses include death or dismemberment while traveling with a common carrier.
  • 24-hour travel assistance services: Includes emergency replacement cards and cash advances if your card is lost or stolen.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement: Up to $3,000 if luggage is lost or stolen.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Trip cancellation insurance: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip if your trip is cancelled or cut short due to severe weather or other eligible situations.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement: Up to $3,000 for you and immediate family members you’re traveling with for lost bags.
  • Trip delay reimbursement: Up to $500 per ticket if you’re traveling with a common carrier and are delayed more than six hours or overnight.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Trip cancellation insurance: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip in reimbursement for non-refundable travel expenses when your trip is cut short by severe weather or other covered situations.
  • Delayed baggage: Up to $100 per person for five days for essential purchases if your bags are delayed for more than six hours.
  • Trip delay reimbursement: If you’re delayed overnight or for more than 12 hours, get reimbursed up to $500 per ticket.
  • Emergency Assistance Services: The Benefit Administrator can provide legal and medical referrals or other emergency services, but you’re responsible for service fees.
Citi Prestige
  • Medical evacuation: Up to $100,000 in costs for evacuation when traveling and you have a serious medical emergency.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption coverage: Up to $5,000 per trip when travel is cancelled or cut short due to sickness, injury, weather, or death of covered travelers.
  • Trip delay protection: Up to $500 per covered traveler per trip if your flight is delayed for at least three hours.
  • Baggage delay protection: Up to $500 per covered traveler if your bags don’t arrive to your destination within six hours of arrival
  • Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 in coverage for lost bags per person per trip ($2,000 if you live in New York).
Citi Premier
  • Travel accident insurance: Up to $500,000 in coverage for accidental death or dismemberment.
  • Trip cancellation insurance: Up to $5,000 per trip if your trip can’t go forward due to weather issues, illness, or death.
  • Trip delay insurance: Up to $500 to cover incidental expenses if your trip is delayed for more than 12 hours.
  • Baggage insurance: Up to $3,000 ($2,000 if you live in New York) if your bags are permanently lost.
  • Baggage delay coverage: Up to $100 for the cost of incidental expenses if your bag doesn’t arrive within six hours of your arrival.
  • Emergency assistance: When away from home, Citi can help you connect to support services you need.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Travel accident insurance: Up to $500,000 in coverage for death or accidental dismemberment when traveling.
  • Baggage insurance: Up to $3,000 in coverage if your bags are lost.
  • Premium global assist hotline: 24/7 access to medical, financial, or legal advice or coordination of emergency assistance during travels.
United Explorer
  • Trip cancellation or interruption insurance: Up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip to compensate you for non-refundable fares if your trip is cancelled due to sickness, injury, or other covered situations.
  • Trip delay reimbursement: Up to $500 in unreimbursed expenses if you’re delayed more than 12 hours or overnight.
  • Baggage delay insurance: Up to $100 for three days for essential purchases if your luggage is delayed more than six hours.
  • Lost luggage insurance: Up to $3,000 of losses per covered passenger when checked or carry-on luggage is damaged.

How to pick the best travel card for you

Be sure you can afford the annual fee, and look for other travel perks that may benefit you as well, like an application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. An ideal travel rewards credit card will also not charge you any foreign transaction fees. 

Make sure the card you're applying for earns the rewards you're trying to collect. For example, American Express cards earn Membership Rewards, whereas Chase cards earn Ultimate Rewards points.

Be sure that the card's bonus categories line up with your spending. For example, if you spend a lot on fuel, you'll want to make sure that among the eligible purchases for bonus points are purchases at gas stations. This could make the Amex Platinum a good fit for you since it earns 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases. Cardmembers also get access to booking trip through Amex Travel. The benefits of this card can easily outweigh it's annual fee of $695 (See rates and fees).

Many cards can also give you a big boost of rewards toward your next trip by offering either a welcome bonus or sign-up bonus. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is currently offering a chance to earn 100,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

If you are planning to make large purchases in the near future, you may also want to compare interest rates among the cards available to you as well. 

If your current credit score isn't high enough to qualify you for the kind of premium travel card you want, then take some time to improve your score and plan to apply in the future.

FAQs

Which credit card has the best travel insurance?

One of the best credit cards for travel insurance is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Other cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and The Platinum Card from American Express, offer similar travel coverages, but the travel insurance on the Sapphire Reserve tops their offerings. 

Reserve cardholders get primary rental car insurance, trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, roadside assistance, and emergency evacuation and transportation.

Which credit cards offer trip cancellation?

There are a number of travel credit card offers that include trip cancellation insurance, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and The Platinum Card from American Express. 

Both the Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve offer up to $10,000 in trip cancellation or interruption insurance per person and up to $20,000 per trip. The Amex Platinum offers up to $10,000 in trip cancellation or interruption insurance per trip and up to $20,000 every 12 consecutive months.

Can you rely on credit card travel insurance?

As long as you follow the terms and conditions of your credit card travel insurance, it could prove to be useful. The terms and conditions vary by credit card product, but they typically require you to pay for travel expenses with your eligible card to get the applicable insurance. This may include paying for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, tours, and more. Be sure to carefully review the terms of your credit card insurance so you understand how it works and can take advantage of your coverage should the need arise.

What is typically not covered by travel insurance?

Travel insurance typically won’t cover:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions (including pregnancy)
  • High-risk activities like skydiving or rock climbing
  • Mental illness
  • Declared wars or undeclared wars
  • Anything involving illegal activity
  • Accidents while you’re intoxicated or under the influence of a drug
  • Deciding you don’t want to travel
  • Fear of travel (including fear of COVID-19)
  • Epidemics and pandemics
  • Anything not mentioned in the travel insurance policy

Bottom line

There are a number credit cards with trip cancellation benefits and with other kinds of travel insurance benefits as well. The key is to find a card that provides the protections you’re looking for when things go wrong on your trip — but which is also affordable and provides other features or perks that benefit you. 

Remember, once you have a card with travel insurance, always read the cardmember terms so you’ll know how much protection you have and what you need to do in order to make an insurance claim. When you do, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your financial loss is limited, even if a disaster occurs on your trip.

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Author Details

Christy Rakoczy Christy Rakoczy has a Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School with a focus in Business Law, and a Certificate in Business Marketing with an English Degree from The University of Rochester. As a full-time personal finance writer, she writes about all things money-related but her special areas of focus are credit cards, personal loans, student loans, mortgages, smart debt payoff strategies, and retirement and Social Security. Her work has been featured by USA Today, MSN Money, CNN Money and more, and you can learn more at her LinkedIn profile.