Navigating travel protection: 9 credit cards with excellent insurance coverage

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS



Travel brings excitement, adventure and occasional unpredictability. Whether you’re exploring new destinations or returning to old haunts, travel insurance can provide peace of mind and security. Many travelers find buying a travel insurance policy to protect their trips (and themselves) against unforeseen circumstances worthwhile. While this is smart, you may not have to pay for a policy. Many travel credit cards offer extensive travel insurance. 

However, not all credit card travel insurance is equal. Coverage varies from sparse to comprehensive, rivaling many of the best policies you can purchase. In this guide, we’ll dive into the world of credit card travel insurance and help you decide how to get the best card for your specific needs.

What is credit card travel insurance?

Credit card travel insurance consists of various travel-related protections. It typically includes benefits like trip cancellation or interruption insurance. Some cards cover baggage loss, theft or delay, and emergency medical expenses. Many premium credit cards even provide rental car collision damage waivers or emergency evacuation and assistance services. 

These protections are available for cardholders who use their credit cards to pay for travel expenses (including flights, hotels and rental cars). The extent of coverage can vary depending on the card, so it’s important to understand coverage limitations before relying on it exclusively.

What does credit card travel insurance cover?

  • Trip cancellation or interruption insurance: Non-refundable travel expenses due to trip cancellations, delays or interruptions caused by severe weather or medical emergencies.
  • Baggage insurance: Lost or delayed baggage caused by your common carrier (plane, train or cruise ship).
  • Travel accident insurance: Accidental death or dismemberment while traveling on a common carrier.
  • Auto collision damage waiver: Damage caused to a rental vehicle, up to the full cost (or $75,000), depending on the policy.

What credit card travel insurance will cover depends on the issuer and your card type. Generally, it covers a range of travel-related purchases due to illness, weather, or unexpected emergencies.

Coverage amounts will vary by credit card, so it’s important to review your card’s policy beforehand to ensure it’s sufficient. Your credit card guide to benefits is a great place to find comprehensive information about your insurance. Always check policy details, including coverage limits and exclusions, which vary widely. 

What does credit card travel insurance not cover?

  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Travel to high-risk countries or engaging in risky activities
  • Acts of war or terrorism
  • Trip cancellation due to personal preferences

Typical exclusions to credit card travel insurance coverage include high-risk activities like extreme sports or travel to countries under specific government advisories or in conflict zones. The same goes for acts of war or terrorism—if you require evacuation or trip cancellation due to these reasons, your credit card travel insurance may not reimburse your expenses.

Most credit card travel insurance will also not cover pre-existing medical conditions. If you require medical care during your travels due to these previously diagnosed conditions, your card’s policy likely won’t protect you. 

Sometimes, coverage is secondary, which means it only applies after other insurance options have been exhausted. For example, if your card’s rental collision damage waiver is secondary, you can’t file a claim until after your personal insurance has rejected your claim. 

Most credit card travel protections are also limited in the amount of damage they’ll cover. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s trip cancellation and interruption insurance covers up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for pre-paid, non-refundable travel expenses. The card’s baggage delay insurance kicks in during delays over six hours and covers up to $100 per day for five days. 

However, the card’s emergency evacuation coverage is insufficient for her family. “These coverages are important if you’re traveling where your own health coverage won’t apply or if you may be in situations where you need to be evacuated from a remote area.” As a result, Johnson pays for an annual travel insurance plan with medical coverage included to supplement her card’s insurance. 

Additionally, most credit card travel insurance doesn’t cover expenses resulting from non-emergency medical treatments. Any insurance claim requires supporting documentation; in the case of a medical emergency, this includes supporting documentation from a physician or health care professional. 

To protect against these scenarios, consider purchasing a comprehensive policy. Some travel insurance policies even include “cancel for any reason” coverage, which will reimburse most of your nonrefundable expenses if you decide not to go on your trip.

Holly Johnson, a credit card rewards expert and founder of Club Thrifty, travels frequently abroad with her family. While she relies on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®’s auto rental collision damage waiver, she finds its emergency medical benefit insufficient. “The $75 per day hospital benefit (for up to 5 days) is not enough for many things that could go wrong. We still use Chase Sapphire Reserve® coverage for domestic trips and even as our rental car coverage for car rentals in the United States.” 

9 credit cards with travel insurance 

Outside of a few restrictions, credit cards offer pretty robust travel protections. Depending on the cost and scope of your travels, you may not need to buy a separate policy. With the right credit card, you can fully cover most of your travel expenses. A wide range of coverage options are available through a diverse array of credit cards. At the very least, your credit card should offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance, along with primary collision damage waiver. You might also opt for a card that provides some level of baggage insurance. 

For the most comprehensive coverage, you should opt for a card with emergency evacuation and transportation coverage. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers the most comprehensive suite of travel protections, making it the benchmark to compare other cards against. However, you may not need all nine types of protections, in which case you can opt for a lower annual fee card like the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. 

We’ve created a comparison table for you to evaluate the different credit cards that offer travel insurance and choose the best fit for your needs:

Card name Annual fee Amount of coverage included Regular APR
Chase Sapphire Reserve® $550 Trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per card every 12 months)

Trip delay reimbursement (up to $500 per ticket)

Travel accident insurance (up to $1,000,000)

Baggage delay reimbursement (up to $100 per day for five days)

Lost luggage reimbursement (up to $3,000 per passenger)

Travel and Emergency Assistance Services

Emergency Evacuation and Transportation (up to $100,000)

Emergency medical and dental benefit (up to $2,500)

Primary auto rental collision damage waiver (up to $75,000)

22.49%–29.49% variable APR
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card $395 Trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to $2,000 per insured person)

Trip delay reimbursement

Travel accident insurance (up to $1,000,000)

Lost luggage reimbursement

Auto rental collision damage waiver

Travel and emergency assistance Services

19.99%–29.99% variable APR
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card $95 Trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per card every 12 months)

Trip delay reimbursement (up to $500 per ticket)

Baggage delay reimbursement (up to $100 per day for five days)

Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

Travel and Emergency Assistance Services

21.49%–28.49% variable APR
United Club℠ Infinite Card $525 Trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per card every 12 months)

Trip delay reimbursement (up to $500 per ticket)

Baggage delay insurance (up to $100 for five days)

Lost luggage reimbursement (up to $3,000 per passenger)

Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

21.99% – 28.99% variable APR
United℠ Explorer Card $0 introductory annual fee for the first year (then $95) Trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per year)

Trip delay reimbursement (up to $500 per ticket)

Baggage delay insurance (up to $100 per day for three days)

Lost luggage reimbursement (up to $3,000 per passenger)

Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

21.99%–28.99% variable APR
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card $650 Trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per card every 12 months)

Trip delay insurance (up to $500 per trip)

Baggage insurance plan (up to $2,000 for checked bags and $3,000 combined for checked and carry-on baggage)

Secondary car rental loss and damage insurance

20.99% to 29.99% variable APR
The Platinum Card® from American Express $695 Trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per card every 12 months)

Trip delay insurance (up to $500 per trip, maximum two claims every 12 months)

Secondary car rental loss and damage insurance

See Pay Over Time APR
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® credit card $95 Trip delay reimbursement (up to $500 per ticket)

Baggage delay insurance (up to $100 for five days)

Lost luggage reimbursement (up to $3,000 per passenger)

21.49% – 28.49% variable APR
The Bilt Mastercard® $0 Trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to $5,000)

Trip delay protection

Primary auto rental collision damage waiver

21.49 – 29.49% variable APR

When do you need additional travel insurance coverage? 

Supplementing credit card travel insurance with an additional policy might be necessary in some cases. Julie Menez, a points strategy coach and host of the Geobreeze Travel podcast, recommends purchasing a comprehensive policy if you require peace of mind or want flexibility: “Travel insurance will not cover non-refundable travel expenses in the event that you simply change your mind and decide not to go on a trip anymore. This is where supplementary travel insurance can come into play.” Julia recommends Faye travel insurance, which offers quick claims processing and “cancel for any reason” coverage, which covers up to 75% of non-refundable trip costs.  

Your credit card coverage might also be invalid if your trip involves extreme sports, mountain climbing or other high-risk activities. The last thing you want is to go on this kind of trip unprotected. Buying a policy instead of relying on your credit card coverage might be the best move.

If you’re traveling to regions with higher security risks or under travel advisories, purchasing a travel insurance policy tailored to these requirements is crucial. Your credit card likely won’t provide coverage and you don’t want to be left out cold in an emergency. Longer trips exceeding the duration covered by your credit card might also necessitate additional insurance. 

If your trip costs more than the amount your credit card’s trip cancellation and interruption policy covers, then it’s definitely worth purchasing additional travel insurance. You don’t want to spend thousands on airfare and hotels only to have a portion of it reimbursed in case of an emergency. When in doubt, buy additional coverage.  

Assessing your individual travel needs and comparing them against the coverage provided by your credit card can help you determine when additional travel insurance is necessary. It’s important to carefully review your credit card’s insurance policy for limitations and determine whether the coverage is adequate for your travel needs.

How to choose a credit card that offers travel insurance 

When selecting a credit card that offers robust travel insurance, it’s essential to evaluate several key factors. First, examine the coverage provided. Look for cards that offer comprehensive coverage for trip cancellations, interruptions, delays, medical emergencies, and lost, delayed or damaged baggage. A card with broader coverage and higher limits will be more beneficial, especially if you’re a frequent traveler or planning longer trips.

You’ll also want to consider coverage amounts. Most credit card travel insurance policies have limitations in terms of coverage amount and number of people covered. Understanding eligibility criteria and length of coverage can help you determine the best card for your needs.

In addition, assess your card’s other benefits and perks. Besides travel insurance, look for cards that offer travel perks that might suit your needs, such as airport lounge access, annual travel statement credits, and waived foreign transaction fees. Additionally, you’ll want a card that rewards your daily purchases. If you’re big on travel and dining, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 3 points per dollar in these categories and valuable travel protections. You want a card that checks numerous boxes, helping you accrue points in your everyday life rather than just during your travels. 

Lastly, consider the card’s annual fee to ensure the benefits and rewards justify the cost. Comparing multiple credit cards and their respective travel insurance offerings can help you find the one that best suits your travel goals and needs.

The takeaway 

While credit card travel insurance can provide excellent baseline coverage, it’s not the most comprehensive option. If you’re traveling with family, for an extended period of time or want more extensive coverage with higher limits, you might want to consider buying a supplemental policy. Travel can get expensive and the last thing you want is to incur additional costs due to unforeseen circumstances. By researching your options and being aware of your card’s limitations, you’ll be prepared to make the best choice for your travel needs.



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