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What does credit card protection cover for cruises?

by on Mon April 18, 2016 • 9 Comments


Some credit cards come with pretty great travel protection benefits, but credit card coverage only goes so far.

Especially in the case of cruises, it may make sense to take out a standalone travel insurance policy to make sure your trip is covered. We’re going to take a look at what some common credit cards will cover, what a base insurance policy would cost for a cruise, and some specific scenarios where you would want coverage.

Citi and Chase are the two best credit card issuers for travel insurance through a credit card.

Both banks offer four main areas of coverage with many of their premium travel credit cards: trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, and baggage delay.

In order to have coverage that applies toward your cruise, you would need to purchase both the cruise and flights with the same credit card.

The coverage between different Citi and Chase products is slightly different, so for the sake of comparison we will be considering benefits of the Citi ThankYou Premier and Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Valid reasons for use of the trip cancellation or interruption coverage include both illness or personal matters like a death in the family, jury duty, or military orders, and severe weather related issues that cause delays or cancellation.

Be aware that garden variety 2 or 3 hour delays generally won’t qualify for credit card trip cancellation or interruption benefits, and illnesses need to be documented by a physician who advises against travel, or in the case of a close family member, be severe enough to warrant your care.

What does cruise insurance offer?

Since there is a lot that is not covered by the credit card issuers, separate cruise insurance may be worthwhile. There are lots of cruise plans, and generally the insurance the cruise line sells you will be less lucrative than a standalone cruise plan from an independent provider.

One independent provider benchmark is the Allianz Classic Plan.

While not a top of the line ‘cancel for any reason’ plan, it does offer these benefits:

  • Emergency Medical: $25,000

  • Emergency Medical Transportation: $500,000

  • Trip Cancellation: Up to 100% of Nonrefundable Costs

  • Trip Interruption: Up to 150% of Nonrefundable Costs

  • Trip Delay: $800

  • Missed Connection: $800

  • Change Fees: $250

  • Lost Luggage: $1,000

  • Delayed Luggage: $300

To give you an idea of the cost of a cruise insurance plan through Allianz, let’s assume you are going on a 10-day cruise and that all trip costs are about $8,000 for three travelers.

Allianz would charge $302 to cover your trip with its Classic Plan.

How do cards compare to cruise insurance?

Now let’s look at a few different scenarios to determine what insurance would come into play.

Please note the guidelines and coverage details have been collected by and have not been reviewed by Chase or Citi. They can change at any time, so please call the number on the back of your card for details before relying on the coverage.

1. You decide to cancel your trip because of work or you lose your job.

If you voluntarily decide to cancel your trip because of work, nothing is going to cover the costs of your cancelled trip. If, however, you lose your job, you might be covered if you booked with a premium Citi card like the Citi Prestige (the Citi Premier no longer covers job loss effective May 15, 2016) or have a separate insurance policy.

If you have the Classic Plan through Allianz, you only need to have been employed by the employer for one year. In both cases, you must not have been at fault for your termination. Chase will not cover you at all in the case of losing your job. In this case, Allianz has the superior insurance.

Advantage: Standalone coverage

2. You get very ill before the trip begins.

If you get very ill before your trip, your trip cancellation coverage will come into play. Chase will cover you up to $10,000 per trip for any non-recoverable expenses, and Citi will cover up to $5,000 per person per trip. Allianz’s Classic Plan will cover up to $3,000. In this case, Chase has the superior insurance for solo-travelers, Citi and Chase are on par for groups of two, and Citi has the superior insurance for groups of three or more.

Advantage: Credit card coverage

3. Your delayed flight causes you to miss your cruise departure.

Citi ThankYou Premier Trip Interruption coverage can handle a missed connection, but only if there are no flights available to your destination for a full 24 hour period. So having your flight cancelled and rebooked a few hours later, but still missing the cruise won’t be covered.

However, if you have a Citi Prestige Card, the coverage is more generous, and only requires 3 hours of no available flights before it kicks in.

If you meet the delay guidelines, Citi specifies that the cost to rejoin an interrupted trip for a covered reason, up to $5,000 per person, per trip, is included with the Citi ThankYou Premier coverage. The Citi Prestige adds coverage for lodging and meals while you wait to rejoin a cruise.

We wouldn’t rely on Chase coverage to handle a missed connection with a cruise departure.

Chase will not cover additional expenses like tickets to reach a new cruise port, but will cover the nonrefundable part of your cruise if you decide to cancel it altogether, but only if your flight delay was caused by severe weather that would prevent someone reasonable and prudent from making the trip.

However, if your delay was overnight or more than 12 hours, you would be eligible for trip delay coverage to pay for lodging.

Allianz’s Classic Plan is straightforward and allows for $800 to be reimbursed because of a missed connection. You could use this money to get to the port of call.

Advantage: Standalone coverage or Citi Prestige

4. You get ill during the trip.

Credit cards do not include medical coverage, but a medical problem may be included in your trip interruption insurance if you need to get home. For any treatment done abroad, you will be on your own if credit card insurance coverage is all you have.

Allianz’s Classic plan will cover you up to $25,000 for medical treatments needed on the road. If all you need to do is get home, Citi and Allianz can help pay for expenses to get home sooner. Chase will only refund the nonrefundable part of the trip you will miss by leaving early.

And Allianz is the only coverage compared here that will help you with medical expenses while you are traveling.

An alternative to cover the medical gap of credit cards is to buy a standalone travel medical plan, which will cost much less than buying a total insurance package that includes both trip cancellation and medical coverage.

Advantage: Standalone coverage

5. Your bags don’t make your flight.

If your bags don’t make your flight, you’ll be covered up to $500 with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Citi ThankYou Premier if your bag is delayed for at least six hours.

If you have Allianz’s Classic plan you are only covered up to $300 if your bag is delayed for 24 hours or more.

Advantage: Credit card coverage

Each insurance coverage has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Carefully evaluate where you are most likely to need coverage before booking your cruise to make sure you have the highest chance of being covered when you need it.

The best answer may be to combine coverage – use your credit card to book, since there’s not extra cost for that, and then add coverage where you feel there are gaps, like for medical treatment.

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9 thoughts on What does credit card protection cover for cruises?

  1. Doreen Roohanipur

    Both my husband and have a Chase United Airlines Mileage plus Visa card. If I put the entire cost of the cruise on my credit card which was also booked through United Airlines and I have to cancel before the cruise begins because my cancer progressed to a point where my doctor will not allow me to travel. Will I be able to get reimbursed? My oncologist has cleared me for travel already and has it documented in my medical records. I am doing well on my current medication but my next Pet scan is mid June and things could change. My cruise departs July 7th and the cruise cost approximately $8,000. Thank you.

  2. Lisa

    I am planning to purchase a cruise in Tampa. The cruise schedule to departs at 6:00 PM and the airline I am planning to take should 2:00 PM. I am worry if the airline delays, I will missed the cruise. What should I do?

  3. June Metcalf

    If you pay for your Cruise with your Chase Freedom Card. And for some reason you had to cancel Cruise for illness would you be refunded the full amount of Cruise?


      @June – If it’s a Visa Signature level Freedom, then it might be possible, up to $5,000 worth. Really best to call the number on the back of your card to check what coverage your specific account has.

  4. tim bush

    I have a Chase Disney Visa. I recently took a Disney cruise that was changed due to Hurricane Matthew. We received notice 24 hours before sailing that the itinerary was being changed. The only reason we booked the cruise was to go to Disney’s private island. We were told it was to late to cancel. Once we were onboard for over three hours they told us just before sailing we could have changed cruises. The cruise was diverted to two ports that were not on the itinerary. We also got home a day and a half after we were suppose to causing us to miss other plans. I paid with my Disney Visa. Would I be covered for the delayed return or any other parts of the cruise?


      @tim – Sorry to hear about that. Not much you can expect from your Disney Visa – generally card coverage is to cover trips you couldn’t make at all or had to leave midstream. Unfortunately you may need to work with Disney Cruises. It’s a tough situation – weather is not in their control and they delivered a cruise. Where it sounds like there was a possible mistake was being told it was too late to rebook to a different date.

  5. Barbara Hearn

    My understanding is that no credit cards cover trip cancellation, Interruption, or medical expenses due to a pre existing medical condition. True or false?


      @Barbara Hearn – As with standalone insurance, it varies. For example the latest version of the Citi Prestige / Premier does not have a specific exclusion for pre existing conditions, other than those where you are advised by a physician before the travel is booked that travel is not recommended.


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