I’m not sure how old this news is since I rarely log into my credit card accounts on my desktop, but when I logged into my Barclaycard account the other day I was greeted by a foreboding message:
Never a message you want to see from your primary credit card, and sure enough, a quick comparison of the old (current) and new Cardholder Guide to Benefits reveals the damage is near-total. Here’s are some of the most important changes.
Most travel hackers prefer the more generous trip delay insurance provided by the Chase Sapphire family of cards, but since I don’t have one of those (I use a legacy Ink Plus to make my Ultimate Rewards points transferrable), I put most of my travel charges on my Arrival+ card, which currently offers a benefit of up to $300 for delays of 6 hours or more.
I can’t say that I “rely” on Barclay’s trip delay coverage since I’ve never actually used it (my only experience was using the Sapphire Preferred trip delay coverage), but the ability to earn some points, and possibly trigger a hotel promotion, on someone else’s dime at least partly makes up for the inconvenience of a long flight delay.
On November 1, the benefit disappears (it’s possible trips purchased before November 1 will still be covered, but I wouldn’t rely on that possibility).
Purchase Protection Benefits
I don’t know what else to call the suite of current benefits, which include “Extended Warranty,” “Price Protection,” “Purchase Assurance” (goods stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchase), and “Satisfaction Guarantee” (the ability to return items that the retailer refuses to refund).
These benefits all disappear November 1, and are replaced with “Cellular Telephone Protection.” Besides the obvious requirement you charge your monthly bill to the credit card in order to qualify, there are a number of additional requirements that I think would make my phone ineligible, particularly the exclusion of “Eligible Cellular Wireless Telephone(s) purchased from anyone other than a cellular service provider’s retail or internet store that has the ability to initiate activation with the cellular service provider.”
Since I bought my iPhone directly from Apple, which is not a cellular service provider, the question of whether my phone would be covered depends on precisely what work the word “or” is doing. In other words, is a phone eligible if it is purchased from a cellular service provider’s retail store or a cellular service provider’s internet store (the obvious grammatical reading), or is it eligible as long as it is purchased from a cellular service provider’s retail store, or from any internet store that has the ability to initiate activation with the cellular service provider?
Phones purchased directly from Apple would be excluded under the first reading but covered under the second.
The maximum benefit is $800 per claim and $1,000 per 12-month period, after a $50 deductible per claim, and you can make a maximum of 2 claims per 12-month period.
The card will continue to offer “Baggage Delay,” “Trip Cancellation and Interruption,” and “Travel Accident Insurance” (this is not medical insurance — it’s basically an accidental death and dismemberment policy that only applies during your trip), although there may be some changes to the coverage terms and amounts. The rental car collision damage waiver benefit also remains, and is still secondary to your primary auto insurance policy.
Obviously the loss of the trip delay benefit is the worst of these changes, and if you’re the kind of person who relies on trip delay reimbursement, you’re going to need to find another card. Besides the Sapphire family of cards, there are several more cards from Chase (United Explorer and Club, Marriott Bonvoy Bold and Boundless), US Bank (Altitude Reserve), that offer a trip delay benefit and that you might already carry for one reason or another. Additionally, American Express is reported to be adding a trip delay benefit to certain cards beginning January 1, 2020.
I don’t think it is reasonable for most people to pay an annual fee on a credit card they wouldn’t otherwise carry exclusively for the trip delay benefit, but if you’re already paying for it, you had better be using it!