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Flight delay coverage? 15+ cards that pay $500 for your expenses

by on Mon August 1, 2016 • 24 Comments


When your flight is delayed, there’s a good chance your airline won’t try to do anything more than get you on the next available flight. And with flights running more full than ever these days that means you could be stuck for days.

When weather is the culprit you’re literally left out in the cold as the government doesn’t require the airlines to put you up in a hotel or provide other help.

An overnight stay could cost you hundreds of dollars, especially on a night when thousands of other travelers are in the same position as you, leading to even higher hotel rates. And if you can’t afford that you could be stuck sleeping at the airport.

Fortunately, there is some help that might already be in your wallet. It comes in the form of several credit cards that will actually pay for your hotel and meal expenses if your flight encounters a long delay. All they ask is that you book your ticket with your card.

Below is a list of every credit card we know of that offers this trip delay coverage:

The information related to these credit cards been collected by and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards.


Coverage Delay required Annual Fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve $500 6 hours $450
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card $500 12 hours $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Citi AAdvantage Gold $500 12 hours $50
Citi AAdvantage Platinum $500 12 hours $95
Citi Chairman $500 3 hours $500
Citi Executive AAdvantage $500 3 hours $450
Citi HHonors Reserve American Express $500 12 hours $95
Citi Prestige $500 3 hours $450
Citi ThankYou Premier $500 12 hours $95
Ink Preferred Business Credit Card $500 12 hours $95
Merrill+ Visa Signature $500 ($100 / day up to 5 days) 12 hours None
Ritz Carlton Rewards $500 12 hours $395
The Hyatt Credit Card $500 12 hours $75
United MileagePlus Club Card $500 12 hours $450
United MileagePlus Explorer $500 12 hours $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
United MileagePlus Explorer Business $500 12 hours $95

What are the catches?

There aren’t many. Most of the listed cards have the coverage kick in for delays of 12 hours or more, and will reimburse you for up to $500 in expenses. That includes hotels, meals, taxi fare, and even toiletries or other essentials.

They won’t cover delays that happen at your home airport, since it’s easy to spend the night at home.

And you’ll need to keep itemized receipts of all your expenses, whether you charged them to your card or not. You’re also going to want to get proof from your airline that your flight was delayed.

Chase will cover mileage award tickets as long as you use your card to pay for the taxes and fees.

And of course its always a good idea to call your card company to double check the coverage is still in effect before you book your tickets.

How do you get reimbursed?

No need to get approval before you book hotels or pay for meals while you’re delayed.

Afterward just call the number on the back of your card and they’ll connect you with the claim administrator who will send you a form and list of the documents you’ll need to provide.

Once it’s all verified they’ll cut you a check reimbursing you for up to $500.

Who is covered?

The coverage applies for yourself, your spouse, and your children (under age 22 for Chase and under age 19 for Citi, though full time students under age 24 are also covered). You don’t have to be traveling with them for the coverage to apply, but you do need to use your card to pay for the ticket to activate the coverage.

Which is best?

The most comprehensive trip delay coverage is from Citibank, which offers coverage that kicks in after delays of just 3 hours if you hold one of its premium cards like the Citi Prestige or Executive AAdvantage card, both with $450 annual fees. It also offers coverage on its lower fee Citi ThankYou Premier, though that coverage only kicks in for longer delays.

The most affordable coverage is from Merrill Lynch, via its no annual fee Merrill+ Visa Signature.

What are the alternatives?

If you don’t have one of these cards you can buy separate delay coverage from a travel insurance company, though those policies are usually geared toward people going on longer international trips, not flying home for the holidays and getting stuck in a snowstorm.

Another alternative is a policy called AirCare, which will pay you up to $500 if you miss a connecting flight. But it will only pay $50 for delays that don’t involve missing a connecting flight. That’s not much for a policy that costs $25 per trip.



The following two tabs change content below.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $95

Annual Fee


Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."

24 thoughts on Flight delay coverage? 15+ cards that pay $500 for your expenses

  1. Ree

    Recently used the Trip Delay benefit as our flight home (from Europe) was cancelled due to air traffic controller strike in Greece. By time we learned of strike all flights were booked for a week! United was able to get us a flight out of Italy a few days later which involved us traveling by train, bus and ferry.

    I had booked United Award flights but paid the taxes/fees on my United Visa card. We called Chase before making arrangements to get home to see what was covered. I saved the webpage showing the airline cancelled our flight for that day, which was sufficient for my claim. In addition, my statement showing 2 round trip award flights were paid on the card, and all receipts were submitted online.

    Chase covered our expenses for lodging (apartment i booked since I figured same cost as a hotel), subway tickets, taxi to airport, meals, and toiletries. It took a few months but they also had to translate receipts. Happy with the experience overall. Great benefit to having the card! They paid my entire claim minus $50 for alcohol and tips paid to restaurants.

  2. Ashley

    Don’t expect the Citi Prestige Travel Delay coverage to actually cover you if you are at a connecting airport and are delayed overnight due to a flight being cancelled. My SO and I were stuck overnight after our Delta Connection JFK-JAX flight was cancelled. We were delayed overnight for a total of 15 hours 55 minutes. I filed a Trip Delay claim for about $580 submitting all receipts for the hotel, dinner, and taxis. We were covered up to $1k, and I was told I would be covered by Citi Prestige Concierge. After submitting our claim, we have been given the run-around for two months that they we are not covered because, they claim, our original flight needed to have been delayed for at least 3 hours before being cancelled.

    I’m at the point where I am going to close my account. I just got off the phone with one Citi’s agents who is making a last ditch effort to get the Concierge Insurance claim successfully processed. I told her that if my claim isn’t processed per the literature available from Citi, that I will be closing my account.


      @Ashley – We are looking into it. Trying the benefits line got the same logic you received so checking other avenues.

  3. Cecilia

    What would you do with the $3500 reimbursement? That only goes towards costs incurred like a hotel and breakfast right? So it’s not like you can go crazy shopping, or get the cash right? There are only so many “fancy” hotels and dining options near the airport?

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  4. Leslie Sokolow

    The take-away for me is that it is worthwhile to book Christmas or Thanksgiving travel on a CC with a 3-hour minimum delay. Those cards tend to have high annual fees but these delay reimbursements could really offset the cost of owning such cards.

    Unfortunately CCs with a 3-hour delay definition are all Citi cards and I tend to book all my travel with points.


      @Leslie – Yes that’s the rub – but if it happens to be ThankYou points or AAdvantage miles you have an option.

  5. DolceVita

    What if I purchased separate delay coverage from a travel insurance company, will I be able to collect from both companies?


      @DolceVita – Generally no, the credit card coverage is considered ‘in excess,’ which means, it pays what other forms of insurance haven’t already paid.


      @FruGal – Good question. The $500 cap is ‘for each purchased ticket’ so it should cover each family who has a ticket (lap infants wouldn’t be covered since they don’t have separate tickets). Basically if you look at your billing statement and see separate ticket numbers listed each of those tickets will have coverage.

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