Update 5/20/17: I added another table under the original benefits comparison table that outlines the terms of coverage for each card, depending on how a trip was paid and whether or not it’s roundtrip/one-way. This is information I’ve gathered from each card’s terms and conditions, not first hand experience, so if anyone has further first-hand info, please share in the comments.
Accidents happen. Delays occur. Baggage gets lost. The more you travel, the more you’re exposed to these kinds of risks. Conveniently, many of the travel credit cards you guys already carry offer protection against these kinds of risks.
If you’re looking to open a new travel credit card, chances are travel protection benefits won’t be your number one criteria on which you’ll call judgement. But if you travel often and on expensive trips, then it should at least be a consideration. That is why I decided it would be more beneficial for our readers to be informed about the travel protection benefits of the most popular cards with big sign up bonuses and the highest reward earning potential, as opposed to cards ranked purely by the best travel protection benefits package. Not that those two things are mutually exclusive.
- Travel Protection Benefits of Chase Cards: Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, & Ink Business Preferred
- Travel Protection Benefits of Citi Cards: Prestige & ThankYou Premier
- Travel Protection Benefits of Amex Cards: Platinum, Business Platinum, Premier Rewards Gold, & Business Gold Rewards
- Wrap-Up: Comparison Chart (this post)
I’ve gone through in detail the major travel rewards cards issued by Chase, Citi, and American Express. If you are wondering about a specific card or benefit, check out the series index above.
Below is a summary of what I’ve already gone over, with the cards compared side-by-side in a chart for ease of comparison. If there’s an X it’s because the benefit isn’t offered for that specific card. Chase cards are beige, Cit cards green, and Amex cards blue.
Below is a summary of when coverage applies, depending on factors like:
- if you charged an entire trip or just part of it to the card
- whether you charged a one-way or roundtrip
- if trip was paid with Ultimate Reward points or airline transfer partner miles
Amex Has The Worst Travel Protection Benefits
In my opinion, the most common mishaps when traveling that, therefore, are also the things most likely to cost you money, are flight delays and delayed baggage. As far as large scale risks, I think needing to cancel your trip because life got in the way (Trip Cancellation insurance) is way more likely than you dying or losing a limb on your trip (Travel Accident insurance) or needing medical evacuation.
The cards issued by American Express covered in the chart don’t offer travel protection for those three things–trip delay, baggage delay, nor trip cancellation–which in my mind, makes their travel protection benefit package far inferior to those of Citi and Chase’s major travel credit cards. I’ll leave them out of any further comparison.
Citi vs. Chase
It’s fairer to directly compare the cards with similar annual fees, so…
Citi Prestige ($450) vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450):
- the Sapphire Reserve’s Baggage Delay insurance covers the same amount per day as the Prestige, but kicks in three hours later (after six hours vs. three)
- lost Luggage coverage is the same
- the Prestige’s auto rental insurance is secondary when renting cards within the United States/primary when renting internationally, while the Sapphire Reserve’s is primary despite where you’re renting, which I think is more important than the fact that the Prestige’s covers up to $100,000 while the Sapphire Reserve covers up to $75,000
- Travel Accident Insurance coverage amount is the same, but with the Prestige, you have to have paid for the entire trip on your card (unlike the Reserve)
- the Sapphire Reserve offers more Trip Cancellation coverage ($10,000 vs. the Prestige’s $5,000)
- Medical Evacuation coverage is the same
- both cards offer up to $500 in Trip Delay insurance, but the Prestige’s kicks in after just three hours delay and applies to one-ways while the Sapphire Reserve’s takes six hours to kick in and only applies to roundtrips
If you have the luxury of choosing, I’d put domestic car rentals and expensive trips on your Sapphire Reserve, while charging international rentals to your Prestige. Everything else, put on the Prestige (better international rental coverage, and trip delay/baggage delay benefits kick in earlier).
Sapphire Preferred ($95) vs. Ink Business Preferred ($95) vs. ThankYou Premier ($95)
- the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred’s Baggage Delay insurance covers the same amount per day as the ThankYou Premier, but kicks in three hours later (after six hours vs. three)
- lost Luggage coverage is the same
- The ThankYou Premier’s auto rental insurance is secondary when renting cards within the United States/primary when renting internationally, while the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred’s offer primary insurance despite where you’re renting. I think primary vs secondary is more important than the difference in the amount of coverage. The Ink Business Preferred offers’ primary insurance on the entire cost of the car, which is pretty awesome (clear winner of this category).
- the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred Travel Accident Insurance covers $500,000, but the ThankYou Premier covers $1,000,000
- the Ink Business Preferred and ThankYou Premier offer $5,000 in Trip Cancellation insurance, but the Sapphire Preferred covers you up to $10,000
- none of the three cards have Medical Evacuation coverage
- all three have the same conditions for Trip Delay coverage: up to $500 after at least a 12 hour delay, but the ThankYou Premier covers one-ways while the Chase cards only cover roundtrips
If you rent cars often within the United States, charge them to either Chase card. If you rent expensive luxury cars internationally, DEFINITELY put them on your Ink Business Preferred. Put expensive plane tickets on your Sapphire Preferred. In most circumstances, the $95 tier Chase cards are a better choice to charge your travel expenses to rather than the ThankYou Premier.
Unless you rent cars frequently within the United States, I think travel protection benefits offered by the the Citi Prestige will serve more people than those offered by the other cards explored in this series. If you travel enough, this card is probably worth having just for its travel insurance. Not to mention it comes with a valuable sign up bonus (50,000 ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in three months), $250 a year in travel credit, Priority Pass lounge access for you and two guests, and a $100 statement credit for a Global Entry application.
Read about the Citi Prestige Card and all the rest of its benefits in detail. Note that post lists the sign up bonus as 40,000 ThankYou Points for spending $3,000 in three months, but there is a public offer for the 50k bonus. If you don’t immediately see it, try pulling up the application page in an incognito window.
If you often rent cars within the United States, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is probably the better card for you. Read more about the Sapphire Reserve’s 50k Ultimate Rewards sign up bonus and its long list of other benefits.
Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.