For a while, Chase was the only bank that would pay for your hotel, meals, and more when your flight got delayed. But then Citi decided to up its game.
Update (05/282016) – It seems that the Citi Prestige/Premier (but not anything else) will cover fares paid with ThankYou points.
When Citi revamped its AAdvantage and premium credit card products late last year, they also significantly expanded the trip delay reimbursement benefits along with it. Citi’s decision was clearly aimed to position themselves more competitively with Chase, who’s been offering trip delay benefits on a select number of Visa Signature products since forever.
The benefits are structured mostly the same (you’ll be reimbursed for accommodation, meals, and other reasonable expenses incurred by an extended flight delay), with a few key differences in how long the delay has to be and whether coverage extends to award travel.
Chase requires delays to be longer than 12 hours or require an overnight stay. This is important because 12+ hour delays don’t happen too often, while missing a late-night connection because of a delayed first flight happens all the time. Citi knows this, and their mid-tier products are noticeably silent on the “overnight stay” provision.
But if you’re willing to shell out $450 a year for Citi’s flagship Prestige card, your trip only has to be delayed three hours for coverage to kick-in. Since the Prestige card offers the same market-standard $500 claim cap, this is pretty generous. There’s no word on whether a hotel charge for a 3-hour delay would be considered “reasonable,” however.
The other major difference is that Citi requires you charge the full fare amount to an eligible card to activate coverage. Presumably, this means award flights booked with miles are not covered through Citi. I’ve heard that travel booked with ThankYou points (through Citi’s booking portal) may be covered, but be warned that this exception is no where to be found in Citi’s official benefits guide. Chase only makes you charge “at least a portion” of the fare to an eligible card, which means award tickets are covered as long as you charge the taxes and fees appropriately.
So there’s no clear winner in the trip delay reimbursement game. Citi’s Prestige card offers the most generous provisions, but you’ll pay dearly in hefty annual fees.
The value proposition and trade-offs will vary for each and every traveler, and what better way to weigh the pros and cons than with an oversized infographic? Here’s what you need to know (click to enlarge):
This disclaimer is worth repeating: All trip delay benefits are account-specific and subject to change. You should always call the number on the back of your card to ensure these benefits apply to your account.