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HomeFinanceCredit card travel insurance: Which cards are the best?

Credit card travel insurance: Which cards are the best?


Many travel rewards credit cards come with what amount to tokenistic travel insurance benefits — coverage that reads well in ad copy but isn’t all that helpful in the moment of truth.

I’m a frequent traveler, and on average I tend to save about $500 per year from credit card travel insurance. Take it from me: The cards on this list are legitimately the best of the best. Yes, they offer those never-going-to-happen benefits that cover you in the event that a shark bites your arm off while you’re snorkeling in Australia. But they also come with very practical coverage for more common predicaments, such as compensation for when your flight is delayed and free rental car insurance.

If you don’t choose one of the credit cards below to make your travel purchases, just know that you’re using the wrong card and that you might end up regretting it, shark bite or no.

Best credit cards for travel insurance

Best for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points: Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

Apply Now
On the Chase US Secure Website

Why I chose it

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card is famously good at travel insurance. The fact that the card’s trip delay insurance kicks in after just a six hour delay is incredible. This is a benefit of Visa Infinite® cards — of which there are very few.

Top travel insurance benefits

Primary rental car insurance: The Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver acts as primary coverage for theft and collision damage, up to $75,000 in coverage.

Trip delay insurance: When your trip is delayed by six hours or more, you’ll get up to $500 per traveler for lodging, transportation, meals, toiletries, etc.

Baggage delay insurance: When your bag is delayed by six hours or more, you’re eligible for $100 in reimbursements per day (for up to five days) for reasonable expenses such as clothing, toiletries, phone chargers, etc.

Emergency evacuation insurance: The cardholder and immediate family (domestic partner/spouse and dependent children) are covered for up to $100,000 for emergency medical needs and evacuation.

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: Coverage of up to $10,000 per ticket (max $20,000 per trip) for nonrefundable prepaid travel such as airfare and hotel stays.

Lost luggage reimbursement: You and immediate family are covered up to $3,000 each when a bag is lost or damaged (can be either checked bag or carry-on).

Emergency medical and dental coverage: If you’re on a trip at least 100 miles from home, you and immediate family are covered for up to $2,500 in medical expenses.

Travel accident insurance: You’re covered up to $1,000,000 for accidental death or dismemberment.

Other key features

  • $550 annual fee
  • 80,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases within the first three months from account opening
  • Earn up to 10x Chase Ultimate Rewards® points per $1 spent on travel (after spending $300 on travel annually).
  • Up to $300 in travel statement credits each account anniversary year
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership and Chase Sapphire airport lounge access
  • Complimentary DoorDash DashPass subscription through December 31, 2024

Apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Credit Card or read our full card review.

Best for earning Marriott Points: Ritz-Carlton Reserve Card

Image of the Ritz-Carlton Reserve CardWhy I Chose It

The Ritz-Carlton Credit Card comes with Visa Infinite benefits so the travel insurance benefits are essentially identical to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but for an annual fee of $450. That’s $100 cheaper than the Sapphire Reserve.

The card also has some excellent benefits that you won’t find with the Sapphire Reserve. For example: It allows you to add authorized users for free — and each authorized user gets their own full-fledged Priority Pass Select membership, too. A membership is worth over $400 per year (Prestige Plan), so this benefit is astoundingly generous.

This is, in my opinion, the best credit card for travel insurance on the market. The only reason it’s not at the top of the list is because it’s difficult to get. You’ll need to ask Chase if they can switch your current Chase Marriott card to The Ritz-Carlton Reserve — and your card must have at least a $10,000 credit line (which you can achieve by reallocating credit from your other Chase cards).

Top travel insurance benefits

Primary rental car insurance: Up to $75,000 in coverage for theft and collision damage.

Trip delay insurance: When your trip is delayed by six hours or more, you’ll get up to $500 per traveler for lodging, transportation, meals, toiletries, etc.

Baggage delay insurance: If your bag is delayed by six hours or more, you can receive $100 in reimbursements per day (for up to five days) for reasonable expenses such as clothing, toiletries, etc.

Lost luggage reimbursement: You and immediate family are covered up to $3,000 each when a bag is lost or damaged (can be either checked bag or carry-on).

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: Coverage of up to $10,000 per ticket (max $20,000 per trip) for nonrefundable prepaid travel such as hotel stays, airfare, and cruises.

Emergency evacuation and transportation: You and immediate family are covered for up to $100,000 for emergency medical needs and evacuation.

Emergency medical and dental coverage: If you’re on a trip at least 100 miles from home, you and immediate family are covered for up to $2,500 in medical expenses

Travel accident insurance: You’re covered up to $1,000,000 for accidental death or dismemberment.

Other key features

  • $450 annual fee
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership
  • Earns up to 6 Marriott points per $1 spent.
  • Up to $300 annually in airline incidentals
  • Annual Marriott Free Night Award worth up to 50,000 points
  • Reimbursement for the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee
  • No welcome bonus

* This offer is no longer available to new applicants.

Best for earning Capital One Miles: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Why I chose it

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Card offers overly generous benefits relative to its annual fee. It’s also a Visa Infinite card, so its travel insurance is top-notch. It’s the only travel rewards-earning Capital One credit card worth considering for travel insurance.

Travel insurance benefits

Primary rental car insurance: Up to $75,000 in coverage for theft and collision damage.

Trip delay insurance: If your trip is delayed six hours or more (or requires an overnight stay), you’ll receive up to $500 per ticket for reasonable expenses such as meals, hotel stays, transportation, etc.

Lost luggage reimbursement: You and immediate family are covered if your checked or carry-on bag is lost or damaged. You can be reimbursed for the difference between the value of the amount claimed and the payment by the “common carrier” (airline, cruise line, etc.), up to $3,000 per person.

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: You’ll be reimbursed up to $2,000 per person for any nonrefundable prepaid travel expenses (think cruises, hotel stays, airfare, etc.).

Travel accident insurance: You are automatically covered for up to $1,000,000 against accidental death and dismemberment, or loss of speech, sight, or hearing, due to a common carrier.

Other key features

  • $395 annual fee
  • 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening
  • Earns unlimited 10x miles per $1 spent on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
  • Up to $300 in statement credits when booking travel through the Capital One Travel portal
  • 10,000 bonus miles each year as an anniversary bonus
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership and Capital One Lounge access

Learn more by reading our full Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card review.

Best starter travel credit card: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now
On the Secure Website

Why I chose it

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is widely considered to be one of the best travel rewards credit cards on the market. Its annual fee is extremely reasonable at $95; it comes with an annual $50 credit to be used at hotels booked through the Chase Travel Portal; and it earns my absolute favorite points currency, Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus it has high-tier travel insurance that has saved me and my husband literally $3,000+ over the years.

Travel insurance benefits

Primary rental car insurance: You’re covered up to the cash value of your rental car against theft or collision damage. Note that more expensive cars and certain types of vehicles don’t qualify for coverage.

Trip delay insurance: If your trip is delayed by 12 hours or more (or requires an overnight stay), you can receive up to $500 per ticket for reasonable expenses such as a hotel, meals, transportation, etc.

Baggage delay insurance: When your bag is delayed by six hours or more, you can receive $100 in reimbursements per day (for up to five days) for reasonable expenses such as clothing, toiletries, etc.

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: You’re covered up to $10,000 per ticket (max $20,000 per trip) for nonrefundable prepaid travel such as hotel stays, airfare, and cruises.

Lost luggage reimbursement: You and immediate family are covered up to $3,000 each when either a carry-on or checked bag is lost or damaged.

Travel accident insurance: You’re covered up to $500,000 for accidental death or dismemberment.

Other Key Features

  • $95 annual fee
  • 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening
  • Earns up to 5x Chase Ultimate Rewards® points per $1 spent on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • $50 annual hotel credit
  • 10% yearly points bonus (based on the total purchases the previous year)
  • Useful bonus categories

Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® or read our full card review.

Best Small Business Credit Card: Ink Business Preferred®

Apply Now
On the Secure Website

Why I Chose It

The Ink Business Preferred® is hands-down the best small business credit card for travel insurance. If you’ve got a for-profit venture — even things as simple as DoorDash delivery driver, dog walking, tutoring, etc. — this is the card for you.

It also has one of the most valuable welcome bonuses on the market, along with useful business-focused bonus categories to help you rack up points in a hurry.

Travel Insurance Benefits

Primary rental car insurance: You’ll be covered up to the actual cash value of the rental car — but you must be renting for business purposes.

Trip delay insurance: When your trip is delayed by 12 hours or more (or requires an overnight stay), you’re covered for up to $500 per ticket for reasonable expenses such as hotel, meals, transportation, etc.

Baggage delay insurance: If your bag is delayed by at least six hours, you’ll receive $100 in reimbursements per day (up to five days) for reasonable expenses such as clothing, toiletries, etc.

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: You’re insured up to $10,000 per ticket (max $20,000 per trip) for nonrefundable prepaid travel including airfare, hotel stays, etc.

Lost luggage reimbursement: You and your immediate family can each receive up to $3,000 when your carry-on or checked bags are lost or damaged.

Travel accident insurance: You are insured for up to $500,000 for accidental death or dismemberment during your trip.

Other key features

  • $95 annual fee
  • 100,000 bonus points after making $15,000 in purchases within the first three months from account opening
  • Earns up to 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards® points per $1 spent on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year.
  • Cell phone protection up to $1,000 per claim (with a $100 deductible)

Apply for the Ink Business Preferred® or learn more by reading our full review.

Best for reserving premium rental cars: the Platinum Card® from American Express

Image of the American Express Platinum CardWhy I chose it

The Platinum Card® is a contender for the single best card on the market, with literally thousands of dollars in annual statement credits. Terms Apply.

This card only offers secondary rental car insurance for free, meaning it will only activate for anything not covered by your primary rental insurance — which is most likely your personal insurance policy. However, by paying a small fee (between $12.25 and $24.95 per rental period), you can get better primary rental car insurance than any other card on this list. No other card will give you up to $100,000 in coverage. That means you can rent more expensive vehicles with no worry.

Travel insurance benefits

Rental car insurance: Automatic secondary insurance, with the ability to upgrade to primary insurance (premium car rental protection up to $100,000) for a flat rate per rental period.

Trip delay insurance: When your trip is delayed by at least six hours (or demands an overnight stay), you’ll be covered up to $500 per ticket for things like food, lodging, transportation, etc. You can make just two claims per rolling 12-month period.

Lost luggage reimbursement: You and those on your reservation are each covered for lost or damaged luggage, up to $2,000 per person for checked bags and up to $3,000 for carry-on bags.

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: You’re covered for up to $10,000 per trip (max $20,000 per trip) for nonrefundable prepaid travel that you can’t use, such as hotel stays, airfare, etc.

Emergency evacuation insurance: When you and your immediate family (spouse or domestic partner and/or legally dependent children) are 100 miles or more from home, you are covered for emergency medical services and related evacuation costs. There is no cap on this benefit — Amex will pay whatever it costs. That’s notably better than what other cards offer.

Other key features:

  • $695 annual fee
  • 100,000 bonus points after making $6,000 in purchases within the first six months from Card Membership
  • Earns Amex Membership Rewards points.
  • Up to $200 in annual airline fee credits
  • Up to $200 in annual Uber Cash
  • Up to $200 in annual hotel credits on prepaid bookings at Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection via the Amex Travel Portal
  • Comprehensive airport lounge access (Priority Pass Select, Centurion Lounge access, Delta Sky Club lounge access when flying Delta, etc.)
  • Up to $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits
  • Up to $189 in annual credits with CLEAR

Best for paying through a mobile wallet: U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card

Why I chose it

The U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card has an absolute superpower that no other card on this list offers: You can earn 3x points per dollar on just about any purchase.

Yes, it comes with a myriad of valuable bonus categories — but the kicker is the ability to earn 3x points for any purchase made through a mobile wallet (such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, LG Pay, and Samsung Pay). With these payment methods becoming more widely accepted, you can stockpile points in no time by using this card via your smartphone every chance you get.

Travel insurance benefits

Primary rental car insurance: You’re covered for up to $75,000 for theft and collision damage.

Trip delay insurance: You’ll receive up to $500 per traveler for lodging, transportation, meals, etc. when your trip is delayed by at least six hours (or demands an overnight stay).

Lost luggage reimbursement: You and immediate family are insured up to $3,000 each when a checked or carry-on bag is lost or damaged.

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance: Coverage of up to $2,000 per ticket for nonrefundable prepaid travel such as hotel stays, airfare, and cruises.

Travel accident insurance: You’re insured for up to $500,000 for accidental death or dismemberment.

Emergency evacuation/transportation coverage: You and your immediate family are covered for up to $10,000.

Other key features:

  • $400 annual fee
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,500 on purchases within the first 90 days from account opening.
  • Earn up to 5x Altitude Rewards points per $1 spent on hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center.
  • Up to $325 in annual statement credits for travel and dining purchases
  • 12 months of Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership (followed by four visits each year and four guest passes)

Apply for the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card.

How does credit card travel insurance work?

Credit card travel insurance automatically activates when you purchase your travel (airfare, cruise, hotel stay, rental car, etc.) with your credit card. Even if you’ve used travel rewards such as airline miles to pay for your travel, you’ll still be covered as long as you pay the nominal taxes and fees with your travel card.

Then, if something goes awry during your trip, you’ll file a claim with your credit card issuer. I’ve filed my fair share of credit card insurance claims, and they’re relatively quick and simple in my experience.

One caveat that most issuers stipulate with certain benefits is that you must travel a certain distance from your home (say, 100 miles) to qualify for insurance. You must be, without a doubt, traveling in order to reap travel insurance benefits.

What does travel insurance from a credit card cover?

A proper travel credit card covers the gamut of travel disasters. Here are some of the different coverage types offered by the cards on this list:

Trip delay insurance

You’ll get hundreds of dollars to cover a hotel stay, food, and more if your flight is delayed a certain number of hours. This perk alone has saved me over $1,000.

Primary rental car insurance

Rental car agencies will strongly encourage you to purchase their in-house car insurance at checkout. By declining this insurance and simply paying with your travel credit card, you could easily save $15 or more per day on insurance for your rental. That adds up quickly.

Baggage delay insurance

If you arrive at your destination only to find yourself the last passenger at the baggage carousel waiting for a suitcase that isn’t coming, you can be reimbursed for purchases (like clothes and toiletries) that you need while you wait for the airline to find your property.

Lost luggage reimbursement

If your bags turn out to be lost, damaged, or destroyed by the airline, cruise ship, etc., your card issuer will pay thousands of dollars to compensate you.

Trip cancellation/interruption insurance

You can be reimbursed for nonrefundable purchases like tours, hotel stays, rental cars, train tickets, airfare, cruises, etc. if certain incidents occur that cause you to either cancel or cut short your travel. For example:

  • The U.S. issues a terrorism warning near your destination.
  • You are called to jury duty.
  • The hotel you booked has been damaged by a flood or fire.
  • There is a warning for a “named” storm at your destination.

Emergency evacuation and transportation

If a medical emergency forces you to be relocated away from the area or to the nearest hospital, you can be covered for the transportation costs, which can be nightmarishly high.

Emergency medical and dental coverage

If you get sick or accidentally get injured during your trip, your credit card issuer will cut you a check for all or part of the treatment expenses.

Travel accident insurance

If you lose your sight, hearing, speech, or various appendages as a passenger on a “common carrier” (such as an airline, cruise ship, or other vessel), your card issuer can compensate you. Accidental death qualifies as well.

What if the card you want is missing coverage you need?

There are plenty of a la carte options if there’s a type of travel insurance you want that isn’t offered by a travel credit card.

For example, no travel card will offer liability insurance for your rental car. You also won’t find Cancel for Any Reason Coverage (CFAR) on a credit card. If these insurances are what you’re after, you can buy insurance from reputable providers like John Hancock, Seven Corners, and Tin Leg. These allow you to sort your travel insurance by feature, so you can get the exact plan that’s best for your situation.

Who should get a credit card with travel insurance?

Even if you take just a single vacation each year, you can benefit from reserving your trip with a credit card that offers travel insurance. Infrequent travelers are less likely to encounter disaster, but just a single doozie can set you back several hundred dollars — so it’s better safe than sorry.

Many travelers also use credit cards with travel insurance simply for peace of mind. Things probably won’t go south during your trip, but reserving your trip with an insurance-packed credit card can alleviate stress even when things end up going perfectly.

Who shouldn’t get a credit card with travel insurance?

The only time you might consider passing on a credit card that offers travel insurance is if you consistently desire coverage that they do not offer.

Purchasing a plan from an insurance provider will give you the more obscure coverage that card issuers don’t offer — and you can often create a package that includes coverages you’d otherwise get with a credit card for a reasonable price.

Summary

Eye-popping welcome bonuses might lure you into signing up for a travel credit card, but a good travel insurance package offers the kind of long-term value that will have you renewing a travel credit card year after year.

I wouldn’t even entertain the thought of booking travel with a card that doesn’t include a well-rounded travel insurance suite — and if your lifestyle warrants a credit card that’s travel-focused, you shouldn’t either.

Featured image: goffkein.pro/Shutterstock.com

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