I've written before about taking advantage of the Chase Sapphire Preferred trip delay insurance benefit (the same benefit is shared by the Chase Sapphire and Sapphire Reserve cards). I don't think it's as good a benefit as your local affiliate blogger says it is, and like any insurance product they'll do their best to find reasons not to honor your claim, but the benefit is real and if they can't find any reasons not to, they really will honor it.
Good credit card trip delay insurance is good for a couple key reasons:
- it doesn't cost anything extra: you trigger it when you pay for your flights with the credit card;
- it's more generous than airline delay benefits: instead of having to eat at the airport Quizno's and make sure you spend less than $12, you can get a proper meal. Chase doesn't even ask for itemized meal receipts for charges under $50;
- you get to strategically stay wherever you want. I used my trip delay to get another Hyatt Gold Passport stay credit, which meant one less night I needed to mattress run in December.
I'm not trying to sell you anything, and credit card trip delay insurance has a profound shortcoming for a travel hacker: you have to purchase airfare, or at least pay the taxes and fees associated with an award ticket, with the credit card in question. That means:
- if you're booking flights with US Bank Flexperks Travel Rewards Flexpoints, you can't pay with another card to trigger trip delay insurance;
- if you're booking a Delta Platinum or Reserve American Express companion ticket, you have to pay for the ticket with an American Express card;
- if you're planning to redeem the Membership Rewards points connected to an American Express Business Platinum card against an airfare purchase at 2 cents per point, you can't also put the flight on a card with trip delay insurance.
- if, like me, you have a Chase Ink Plus but not a card in the Chase Sapphire family, the only way you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points at 1.25 cents each is out of your Chase Ink account, which means you can't also pay with a card that offers trip delay insurance.
I say all this as preface to a pleasant surprise I had this morning: the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard has added a trip delay insurance benefit!
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard adds trip delay insurance
When I logged into my Barclaycard account this morning, I was greeted by a popup saying I was in for some exciting changes:
Needless to say, I found it profoundly unlikely that I would find the updates to my card benefits exciting, but as your dutiful servant I clicked through to find out. The link took me to the Services/Account Settings page (in case you want to navigate back there later), and down at the bottom there were two links: to the old Guide to Benefits (in effect since May 1, 2014) and to the new Guide to Benefits (effective April 1, 2017):
The old Guide to Benefits included a baggage delay benefit, while the new Guide to Benefit also includes a trip delay insurance benefit. It's not quite as generous as the Chase Sapphire benefit, but it's not bad!
Details of the Barclaycard trip delay insurance benefit
The benefit is pretty simple:
- a trip must be delayed for 6 hours or more. There's no exception for overnight stays, so if a flight is delayed from 1 am to 6 am it won't be covered;
- the delay must be a result of inclement weather, equipment failure, or lost or stolen passport or travel documents;
- coverage is limited to $300 in benefits (compared to $500 with the Chase Sapphire cards);
To trigger the trip delay insurance benefit:
"You must purchase the trip entirely with Your covered card for You, or Your family member, and Your traveling companions. If redeemable certificates, vouchers, coupons, or discounts awarded from frequent flier programs are used to purchase the trip, any remaining charge for the trip must be purchased entirely with Your covered card."
I don't understand why credit card companies go to the trouble of writing their terms and conditions in legalese if the legalese is also going to be hopelessly confusing, but that's where we are. From what I can tell, the benefit covers tickets purchased by you for you and your traveling companions (whether or not they're related to you), and tickets purchased by you for family members, but not tickets purchased by you for the traveling companions of family members (if the family member's traveling companions are not related to you).
That's pretty stupid, but it's the best I can disentangle from this document. The benefit also seems to be limited to $300 per trip, while the Sapphire benefit is limited to $500 per ticket, so two people are eligible for $1,000 in reimbursement. That makes a big difference if you're traveling with a big family and need to book multiple hotel rooms. The flip side is that the Sapphire benefit only covers spouses, domestic partners, and dependent children, while the Barclaycard benefit seems to apply to anyone traveling with you, for example coworkers or older children.
Of course you can simply request a Sapphire authorized user card and extend the coverage protection to anyone you like.
For the reasons I laid out in my introduction, I don't find trip delay insurance as valuable as some people claim to find it. But now that I have a card that offers trip delay insurance, there are some no-brainer situations where I'll be using my Arrival Plus card from now on:
- Award tickets. I usually use my Arrival Plus to cover the taxes and fees on award tickets anyway simply because it's my highest earning card for unbonused spend, but since I have a Delta Platinum Business American Express card, I have been paying the taxes and fees on Delta award tickets with that card. From now on I'll be paying all those piddling award taxes and fees with my Arrival Plus.
- Flying United. If I had to fly United for some reason, I'd be much more comfortable doing so if I paid with a card that offered trip delay insurance, given my awful track record with them (I was moving across the country on the day their Chicago air traffic control tower spontaneously combusted).
- Cheap tickets. For tickets in the sub-$300 range, for which I would typically redeem Ultimate Rewards points at 1.25 cents each, I'll strongly consider paying with my Arrival Plus and redeeming points against the charges, saving my Ultimate Rewards points for more lucrative opportunities.