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You’ve probably been in this situation. Your flight is delayed, and you end up missing your connecting flight. Then you find out that the next flight to your destination is available later in the day or even worse, the next day. You might be offered a hotel voucher from the airline, but most times, you’re facing a long night of waiting at the airport. Luckily, many of us covered in this situation using their credit card trip delay benefit

Most travel credit cards come with a trip delay benefit. While they all do pretty much the same thing, they do differ in the length of the delay needed in order to trigger the benefit. If your travel is delayed by a certain number of hours or requires an overnight stay, you’re entitled to certain reimbursements as a cardholder. For example, while most cards require a delay of 12 hours, certain premium cards offer a much shorter delay window. The Chase Sapphire Reserve requires a delay of only six hours, and the Citi Prestige only requires three hours.

For most cards, it’s a potential reimbursement of $500 per person for reasonable additional expenses caused by the delay. The key word is “reasonable”, as you probably won’t be able to seek reimbursement for a new iPad or a custom-tailored suit. The fine print states that it covers things like meals, lodging, toiletries, medications and other personal use items. Though you should definitely check the fine print of your card before making any purchases.

Filing a claim

If you find yourself in this situation, all you need to do is keep the receipts from your purchases and submit them for reimbursement after your trip. The claim should include the following items:

  • Claim form: Your issuer should be able to provide this form once you’re ready to file the claim.
  • Receipt of your original travel purchase: This should show that your travel was purchased with the card that you’re using to seek the reimbursement.
  • Copy of the tickets: This can either be the ticket stubs, or the confirmation that you received after you booked the tickets. Also, I would include your new tickets and itinerary to show the change in schedule.
  • Itemized receipts for your expenses: This is basically all the receipts for expenses incurred because of the trip delay.
  • Proof of delay: This one is tricky. You can usually call the airline after your delay to get some kind of documentation. My recommendation is to get it at the gate when possible. You can also ask the counter for a “military excuse”. A military excuse is documentation that military personnel need to show their commanders when traveling under orders. You don’t have to be in the military to ask for one. It’s just official documentation of the delay and is perfect for providing proof.

Tips and Considerations

In addition, here are some extra tips and details to keep in mind.

1. Award redemptions usually count as well:

If you redeemed points from a card to book tickets, the travel may still be covered under this benefit. Though this can be dependent on the issuer and card. I would call your issuer or check the fine print just to be safe. Most require that you at least pay for part of the ticket with your card. Since you usually pay the taxes and fees on an award ticket, it should extend the benefit to your travels.

2. Your trip must be away from your city of residence and be less than 365 days:

This means that you can’t take advantage of this feature if your delay happens to occur at your home airport, or if your trip happens to be over a year. The idea is that you can always go to your home if needed, and if you happen to be traveling for over a year, then it’s more likely a relocation or residency rather than a trip.

3. Travel is not limited to flights:

Delays in bus, cruise ship, and train travel are also covered under the policy.

4. Benefit extends to other travelers:

If you purchased the travel for others, like your partner or dependents, the benefit should extend to them. Though this can vary with different cards. Most should cover your dependents as long as the card was used to purchase their tickets.

5. Benefit does not require activation (on most cards):

In most cases, you’re protected as soon as you purchase your travel with the card. However, some cards require you to opt-in and pay a fee for this feature. This includes the American Express Platinum card which costs around $10 and requires you to opt-in before your trip.

6. Claims are processed by Visa and Mastercard, rather than the issuer:

Once you file a claim, you’ll likely be working with Visa and Mastercard directly (or American Express). While an issuer like Chase or Citi will help you start the process, the claim is generally handled by the card network provider.

7. Don’t be afraid to contact your card issuer:

I’ve heard stories of people getting their claims reduced or rejected. In these scenarios, many have had success contacting the issuer directly and asking for the reimbursement. So, if you’re not getting the support or results from Mastercard or Visa, give your issuer a call and see if they can help out.

Final thoughts

I hope this video helps to break down this card benefit. It’s something that you hope you never have to use, but it can help make the situation better. Being able to leave the airport and sleep at a hotel can make a huge difference when traveling, and having the flexibility and option to do so is empowering.

As a side note, we’re hoping to do more videos like this one where we break down common travel credit card benefits and features. If there is one that you want us to explore or explain, let us know in the comment section below.


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