Chase will pay for your hotel, meals, and more (up to $500) when your trip gets significantly delayed.
Check it out:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Chase Sapphire (now only available as a downgrade from Preferred)
- United MileagePlus Explorer (personal and business)
- United MileagePlus Club (personal and business)
- Ink Plus Business Card
- Marriott Premier Rewards
- Ritz Carlton Rewards
How to get covered:
- Call the number on the back of your card to double-check if you’re covered. Even if you don’t see your card listed, it might be worth calling to see if trip delay reimbursement has since been added.
- Charge at least a portion of your fare to an eligible card.
- This means that award tickets are also covered as long as you charge the taxes and fees to your card.
- Be traveling round-trip and not know about any delay in advance of your departure (i.e. if your airline cancels flights in advance and tells you to stay home, you should).
I’m not sure whether whether Chase or Visa actually underwrites this benefit, so it’s possible that you’ll find trip delay insurance offered on other Visa Signature products. This benefit is, by the way, different from trip cancellation/interruption and baggage delay coverage, which I’ll cover in a separate post.
If you’re a contracts nerd like me, you might enjoy reading through Chase’s fascinating discussion of Covered Trips, Covered Hazards, Covered Carriers, and other Capitalized Legal Terms and Exclusions To These Capitalized Legal Terms. Otherwise, read on.
When you’re covered:
- Your trip is delayed more than 12 hours. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen too often.
- Your trip is delayed so that it requires an overnight stay. This happens all the time. Have you ever missed your connection and been stranded in an airport overnight because your first leg was delayed? Or had inclement weather put your travel plans on indefinite hold? You’re covered.
What is covered:
- Up to $500 in reasonable expenses per ticket – as long as at least a portion of all tickets was charged to an eligible card and the ticket is for an immediate family member.
- This means that if you purchase two tickets on your eligible card, one for you and one for your spouse, you are collectively eligible to file a claim for up to $1,000 in reimbursements!
- Reasonable expenses include hotel accommodation, meals, ground transportation, necessary toiletries, and so on.
This benefit is the most useful when your airline refuses to provide meal/hotel vouchers because the cause of the delay is outside its control (i.e., inclement weather). However, it can also be useful if you just want to skip a long customer service queue or would rather stay someplace nicer downtown when your airline offers to put you up in a nightmarish airport motel.
Before you file a claim, you should note the exclusions:
- This benefit does not cover tips or alcohol, though you might get around this by billing these charges to your room.
- This benefit does not cover extra-long overnight layovers you knew about in advance.
- I would also imagine that this benefit does not cover delays that are your fault (e.g., I slept-in and missed my flight or I got lost in the airport).
Call the number on the back of your card and explain that you’d like to be transferred to a benefits administrator to file a trip delay claim. You need to initiate this process within 60 days of the delay. Your benefits administrator will email you a 2-page claims form. This is due within 100 days of the delay.
To file a claim, you’ll need:
- An airline receipt showing that the fare was charged to your eligible card.
- Your credit card statement specifically showing the charge made to the airline. This isn’t required in the benefits guide, but they’ve asked for it every single time I’ve filed a claim.
- A copy of your tickets. All. your. tickets. More specifically, the ticket for your original trip as well as the ticket for your delayed trip. A copy of your itinerary might not cut it. You’ve been warned.
- Receipts for incurred expenses. Sounds fair. Remember you’re covered up to $500.
- A statement from your airline explaining why your trip was delayed.
I’d also recommend a scanner or mobile scanning app like Cam Scanner because sending all these documents by mail would be a pain.
What qualifies as an airline statement?
The airline statement is by far the most confusing requirement. Some people have told me that you can request an official letter from the airline after your trip. Others have suggested to take a screenshot from a third-party website that tracks delays.
But do you really trust your airline to follow-up with all the necessary documentation in a timely manner? Would you trust any claims adjustor to allow extra leeway in claims requirements??
Maybe, but I don’t. I’m too impatient or cynical, so I ask for a military excuse while I’m still at the airport.
A military excuse looks something like this:
I’ve found that not all airline customer service agents know how to write a military excuse. So you might have to ask for a supervisor to get it.
When you find someone who can help, give the agent some background on why you’re requesting this special documentation and politely request that they specifically mention:
- That you were delayed.
- Why you were delayed, preferably using one of the eligible reasons I list in the previous section.
- That this delay was longer than 12 hours or required an overnight stay.
All of this may sound like overkill, but it’s worked flawlessly for every claim I’ve filed in the past year. And since I proactively provided all the necessary information (and maybe more), all of my electronically-submitted claims have been processed in full within a week of submission, and I’ve typically received a check in the mail within 2 weeks.
Chase specifically names meals, lodging, toiletries, medications, and “other personal use items” that you encounter during a delay as “reasonable” expenses. That’s a pretty generous range.
But some people ask if they can push the envelope on how much they can spend for hotels and meals. Can you, for example, live it up in a luxury hotel downtown when your airline only offers to put you up at some sketchy airport motel?
I honestly don’t have a good answer for this, but I encourage you to follow a Flyertalk thread that discusses this very topic. In the previous example though, make sure you decline any hotel or meal vouchers from the airline if you don’t intend to use them. Instead, ask for miles.
The general rule of thumb seems to be that as long as your expenses are less than $500 and you don’t go too crazy, you’ll be all set.
Chase offers best-in-class trip delay benefits on many of its credit cards, significantly better than what’s offered by Citibank (which caps the number of claims) and American Express (which doesn’t offer delay reimbursement at all).
Updated 19 March 2015: Citi’s upped their game. You can see the key differences between Chase and Citi Trip Delay reimbursement policies here.
Best of all, this benefit extends to the cardholder, the cardholder’s spouse, and the cardholder’s dependent (21 or younger) children. You just have to pay with your eligible card.
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful. Remember, your trip delays don’t have to be that stressful!