Editorial Policy

Credit Card Deals #6: Travel Delays or Lost Luggage? Some Credit Cards Offer Protection Services

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By Eva Norlyk Smith, Ph.D.
May 22, 2009

These days it seems to happen more often than not. You’re on a business trip or traveling to visit family for the holidays. Unfortunately, there’s bad weather and the plane lands so late that you miss your connecting flight.

Worse, it’s early evening, and there is no other outgoing flight until the next morning. Since the delay is caused by bad weather, the airline won’t put you up in a hotel. So you’re stuck footing the bill for a hotel and meals.

If you want to protect yourself against this increasingly common scenario, take a look at the Travel Delay protection offered by some credit card companies, particularly American Express. By enrolling in the Amex Travel Delay Protection program, any extra expenses incurred due to travel delays may be reimbursable.

The Travel Delay protection service will cover costs you incur due to a missed connection, delayed flights, cancelled flights, or if you’re denied boarding on an overbooked flight. Expenses covered include hotel stays, transportation, food, and other necessities up to $50 per day if your plane is more than three hours delayed and up to $200 per day if you’re unable to get booked on an alternative flight by 9 pm. Of course, if the airline covers the extra expenses, you won’t receive benefits from your Travel Delay service.

You have to enroll in the American Express Travel Delay Protection program to be covered and the ticket has to be charged to the American Express credit card enrolled in the program to ensure coverage. It’s free to enroll, but you do pay a fee of $9.95 per ticket each time you fly, which is automatically charged to your account when you purchase your ticket.

To file a claim, you’ll need all your receipts for transportation costs, hotel stays, food, and other necessities, plus a copy of your airline ticket stubs (both the original and any new ones issued), along with a copy of your billing statement showing the ticket charge and the Travel Delay premium charge.

While this is a great service, it isn’t exactly free. At $9.95 a pop, travel delay insurance can turn into some real money. However, if you frequently travel through airports that are notorious for having delays, it might be worth it.

Lost Luggage Protection

What if you got to your final destination, but your luggage didn’t make it? If you charged your airline ticket to a Visa Signature card, you may be in luck. For some Visa Signature cards, the cardholder can get reimbursed for the value of lost luggage above what the airline will cover, up to $3,000 per trip.

Amex credit cards offer a similar baggage protection service. However, like the Travel Delay protection, you pay a premium for this service, and it will cost you $9.95 per person per trip.