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This article was last updated Jul 06, 2016, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
If your flight is delayed, and you hold one of a select group of travel credit cards from Chase or Citi, there’s a good chance you can get reimbursed for things like a hotel room, cab fare to a hotel, or meals you’re stuck eating at the airport, thanks to flight delay coverage. American Express credit cards don’t currently offer coverage for flight delays.
But like any coverage, there are hoops to jump through to make it valid and set you up to file a successful claim.
How you book matters
The first step is to pay for your flight the right way.
In order to be eligible for trip delay protection through a credit card, you must pay for your flights with the card from the start. Simply being a card member and booking your flights with another card won’t get you the coverage.
If you plan to use award points, that’s fine – just make sure you charge the taxes / fees to your card. That will activate the coverage and you’ll see the purchase with an airline ticket number show up on your statement.
Family, not friends
The typical coverage offered through credit cards is up to $500 per ticket but usually only covers the cardholder, the cardholder’s spouse/domestic partner, and the cardholder’s dependents. If you are traveling with a friend, they usually will not be covered by your credit card delay insurance even if you purchased their ticket.
Of course, if you share a hotel room the point is moot – your coverage applies.
What expenses are covered?
Trip delay insurance will typically cover “reasonable” expenses – and yes, that is quite vague.
In practice, this means hotel stays for overnight delays, transportation, meals, toiletries, medication, and other personal items.
Technically alcohol purchases and gratuity at restaurants will not be reimbursed, but your mileage may vary.
You will not be eligible for trip delay coverage if you miss your flight because of oversleeping or running late or if you were given advance notice about the delay and had the option to change your plans but didn’t.
Your flight’s delayed what do you do?
Filing a claim isn’t something you can do in a snap with your smartphone. You’ll need to go through some paperwork, and have items like these ready:
- Proof of the delay. The benefits administrator will want to see evidence of both the delay and its cause. You can start documenting the delay by taking screenshots of the airline’s website showing the delay – and showing the reason why. You’ll usually see this if you click on the details of your flight status.
- If you’re at the airport, ask for a printout of your itinerary, and that will often list your delay and the reason for it. You can also ask to have a ‘military excuse’ printed out that will lay out the details.
- Also consider getting a delay statement from the airline (here’s a list of ways to get the delay statement). American Airlines for example has an online form you can fill out after the delay, while others can send you a letter.
- A claim form. You’ll get this when you call the number on the back of your card to start filing a claim. Then you’ll need to email or fax it back to the administrator with the rest of the documentation.
- Your card statement. Since a third party administrator, and not your card issuer is handling the claim, you’ll need to send a copy of a billing statement that shows you charged the ticket to your card. Usually it’s pretty easy to spot since most airline ticket charges appear with a long ticket number on your billing statement.
- The itinerary. The email confirmation of your trip from the airline is usually enough for this. If it’s not a roundtrip ticket, you’ll need some proof that you booked a roundtrip with your card – and showing a one way flight back to your home city is fine.
- Statement of compensation. If the airline compensated you with some vouchers or other settlement for the delay, you’ll need to provide that, since most trip delay coverage only covers the out of pocket amount after any compensation you get from the airline. For most garden variety weather delays the airline won’t give you any compensation, so you can state that you received nothing.
- Receipts of expenses. Everything you want reimbursed will need a hard receipt though you’ll want to take pictures as backup which you can upload online. Even if you charged the expense to your card, you’ll need the receipt because the claims administrators don’t have access to your account. And you’ll need to submit the credit card statement that shows the items purchased with the card you want reimbursed – they’ll want both the receipts and the statement.
To get started with an eligible Chase card, call the number on the back of your card within 60 days of the delay, and you’ll have up to 100 days to submit your documents. They’ll ask you to do it via eclaimsline.com. They’ll send an email approving the claim, or asking for additional information or evidence. If you have questions ask for your claims administrator, and be prepared for pushback.
Here is an example of the Trip Delay benefits coverage information for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It’s subject to change and may vary based on your account, so call the number on the back of your card before relying on anything.
To get started with an eligible Citi card, call 1-855-569-7446 within 30 days of the delay to file a claim. You’ll have to submit your documents within 90 days of the delay.
Here is an example of the Trip Delay benefits coverage information for the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card (This offer and/or promotion may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available). It’s subject to change and may vary based on your account, so call the number on the back of your card before relying on anything.
Note these claim windows can change any time, so call the number on the back of your card to verify before relying on them.
Filing a trip delay claim isn’t something you ever want to do, but if you’re stuck paying for a hotel night at the airport, it’s good to know in advance what to be ready for and get the reimbursement you deserve.