Well look at Barclaycard adding a trip delay insurance benefit!

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.

Trip delays and trip delay insurance

If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that I had a bumpy couple days coming back from my family's camping trip back in my ancestral homeland. As always, a disastrous itinerary for me means a blog post for you!

What is a trip delay?

When you buy an airline ticket, you receive a promise that you'll be delivered from your origin to your final destination — and not much more. If you're involuntarily denied boarding or you're delayed on the tarmac for over 3 or 4 hours you may be entitled to some cash compensation (depending on the size of the aircraft and other factors).

Of course airlines do, under some circumstances, some of the time, do more to accommodate passengers: if a flight is delayed or cancelled, they may be willing to reroute passengers on other airlines or to different airports. If a delay or cancellation requires an overnight stay, they may be willing to pay for overnight hotel accommodations and meals.

Note that "may" is the operative word here.

What does a trip delay cost?

Before I get to trip delay insurance, I want to be clear about our terms. A trip delay has a lot of costs, only some of which can or should be formalized into dollar terms.

During a long delay, you may have to pay for:

  • meals;
  • hotel stays;
  • clothes;
  • toiletries;
  • transportation.

These are your "out-of-pocket" costs during a trip delay.

But it's essential to understand that those costs do not come close to encompassing the costs of a trip delay.

If you miss a job interview because of a trip delay, you're out of a job. If you don't make it to Thanksgiving, Christmas, Pesach, or Eid-al-Fitr because of a trip delay, you lose out on precious time with your family (not to mention the food). If you arrive late to a deathbed because of a trip delay, you may not make it there at all.

These are the real costs of a trip delay, even they don't cost you a penny out of pocket.

Trip delay insurance doesn't promise to make it right

It's possible to imagine a product that immediately goes to work for you in case of a trip delay to ensure that your trip is minimally impacted. As soon as a delay is announced, such a trip insurer (or ensurer) would swing into action, proactively booking you tickets on substitute flights — no matter the cost — that get you to your destination as close as possible to your original arrival time.

That product doesn't exist. You can't buy it alongside your airline ticket when making a reservation, you can't buy it from Berkshire Hathaway Trip Protection, and you don't get it when booking a reservation with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Trip delay insurance just promises to pay for your out-of-pocket expenses

That doesn't make trip delay insurance worthless. Since there are out-of-pocket expenses incurred when a trip is unexpectedly delayed, trip delay insurance is a way to recover those costs so that trip delays don't add expensive insult to inconvenient injury.

Being able to pick your hotel of choice during an overnight delay, and be reimbursed later, has real value (especially to a travel hacker). Being able to eat at your restaurant of choice, rather than wherever agrees to take your airline's funny money, has real value. Being able to buy a real toothbrush and your preferred toothpaste instead of the garbage airlines hand out to delayed passengers has real value. Hell, you can even get a couple free pairs of socks out of it if you play your cards right.

But trip delay insurance won't get you to your job interview on time and it won't get you any more time with your family. It covers your out-of-pocket expenses, but there's no trip delay insurance product out there that even tries to make you whole.


As I mentioned on Twitter, my delayed trip was paid for with a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and I've already submitted my trip delay insurance claim.

In 5-60 days (it's insurance, after all), I'll have a post dedicated to that process.

In the meantime, just remember: your trip delay insurance covers the costs, not the consequences, of your delayed flights.