A (Very) Beginner's Guide to Credit Card Travel Insurance

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We obviously love travel around here. There are so many incredible things about traversing the world, but… there are also some not-so-nice things. Like getting sick abroad 🤢 or having your flight canceled 😩

Fortunately, there’s this little thing called credit card travel insurance that (shocker!) does actually exist. But where is it hiding? How do you access it? Is it true that it comes with your credit cards? Or should you purchase additional coverage?

Slowww down a bit with the questions, my friends. We all have ‘em. Yet, somehow, the traveling world as a collective group still struggles to have clear answers to these.

Seriously, how the heck does credit card travel insurance work?!

As always, we’re here to save the day by keeping you in the know for all travel-related news, tips, and inspiration. So buckle up and get ready for this one.

We’re going to do our best at debunking the mysteries around travel health insurance and trip protection so that you’re best informed before you leave for your next trip 🌎

The Basics of Credit Card Travel Insurance

Several of us here at Daily Drop have had to deal with being ill when out of our home countries, and it can be scary, stressful, and well… foreign.

Fortunately, most of these illnesses have been in the form of head colds, other upper respiratory viruses, mild flu, and stomach issues. I’ve personally never had to go to a hospital while abroad, but I have gone to a doctor in Italy when I needed antibiotics for strep (that was loads of fun, as you can imagine).

I’ve also never had a major accident that resulted in severe physical injury or required surgery (though I did wreck my knee skiing in the Alps and just chose to deal with it when I got home 🥴). I still have those dope European forearm crutches as proof!

And I think we can all raise a hand when it comes to experiencing a trip being delayed, interrupted, or canceled altogether.

ANYWAY. Enough reminiscing about those super enjoyable times 🙄 We’re going to talk about two main sources regarding travel insurance. The first is credit card-specific travel insurance and the second is an independent travel insurance plan.

What is Credit Card Travel Insurance?

Credit card travel insurance is just like regular travel insurance, but it comes with a whole bunch of terms and conditions. To be honest, any insurance plan today comes with its own complicated terms and conditions.

In general, there are two types of policies when looking at travel insurance:

🚑 Travel Health/Medical Insurance:

  • Medical treatment: If you are sick or injured while traveling and require medical treatment, some medical expenses may be covered.

  • Medical evacuation: If your injury or illness requires you to return home immediately to receive care, the coverage with your card may cover some of these costs.

  • Travel accident: In the case of accidental death or dismemberment, your card may provide coverage to you or your beneficiary.

🛄 Trip Protection

  • Trip delay: If your trip on a common carrier (plane, train, bus, boat) is delayed, you may receive monetary compensation up to a certain amount to cover the essentials (e.g. meals, accommodation, additional transport)

  • Trip cancellation: If you need to cancel a trip that is prepaid and/or nonrefundable, you might receive compensation for the lost funds depending on the covered reasons for cancellation.

  • Trip interruption: If you miss part of your trip due to a covered reason (e.g. perhaps an illness or trip delay), you may be reimbursed for any unused, prepaid, or nonrefundable reservations (e.g. hotels, activities).

  • Baggage delay: If your bag doesn’t arrive when you do and where you are (have you gotten an Apple AirTag yet??), you may receive reimbursement to cover purchasing new, essential items. The length of the delay required to get coverage varies.

  • Lost/damaged baggage: If your luggage is severely damaged by a carrier, is flat-out lost, or has even been stolen, you may receive monetary compensation.

  • Rental car insurance: This provides coverage for theft and damage to a rental vehicle.

Some credit cards provide you with both medical and trip protection, while others may only have one or the other.

Pro Tip: How much coverage you get and for how long depends on the individual policy. You must also note there are strict conditions in place for your travel insurance to even apply.

Did you read that little bonus tip box right above? Did you read it again? Yeah, because that right there is what makes travel health insurance so dang confusing.

Most credit card travel insurance policies look like 17 pages of this. And no, I’m not kidding 😳

The loopholes are loopy, the terms and conditions are super condition-y, and the coverage just makes no sense sometimes… kinda like the bizarre high school experience where we’d all start our day with a rice crispy treat and a Capri Sun, then would learn about the Pythagorean theorem and Emily Dickinson, and then would go run a random mile all in the span of like four hours. Makes no sense, am I right?

I say all of this just to emphasize the importance of reading the fine print (and maybe even contacting your credit card’s customer support) to ensure you understand what coverage you’ll get and under what circumstances.

What Credit Cards Come with Travel Insurance?

It’s super important to note that the types and levels of coverage and protection vary tremendously between different cards. Many of these policies have exclusions or limitations to your coverage.

And generally, your travel expenses need to be booked with the card whose insurance and coverage you would be claiming if needed (e.g. you can’t claim coverage for trip disruption on one card when the carrier was booked using a different card).

What are the Benefits of Having a Credit Card with Travel Insurance?

There are a handful of benefits to having a credit card that comes with travel insurance when you use it to book eligible travel expenses.

  • 👍 Simplicity: No need to research other plans if you know your card covers you (but realize that may not always be the case).

  • 💵 Saves money: Bringing on an independent insurance plan will cost you extra $$$.

  • 💳 Miles and points use: Most cards will honor an insurance claim even if you use points to book your travel (as long as you pay for the taxes and fees with your card).

  • 🙏 Reassurance: You can rest easy knowing that if something goes wrong, you’ve got some protection in place.

Our Top 7 Favorite Credit Cards with Travel Insurance (Medical and Trip Coverage)

This list is absolutely not comprehensive of all the options that are out there. After conducting our own research, we’ve chosen these cards to use as examples because we love them for lots of other travel reasons ❤️

1. Best Overall Card for Travel Insurance Benefits: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card provides, undoubtedly, the most comprehensive coverage of all cards on this list (and likely all cards in general).

It offers its cardholder both medical coverage and general travel insurance. Plus, the coverage amounts for this card are typically higher than those offered on other cards.

  • Trip cancellation/interruption: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses (including passenger fares, tours, and hotels). Maximum benefit of $40,000 per 12-month period.

  • Trip delay: Up to $500 per ticket for common carrier delays of more than six hours or requires an overnight stay. Covers unreimbursed expenses such as meals and accommodations.

  • Baggage delay: Reimbursement for essentials (like toiletries and clothing) of up to $100 a day for 5 days.

  • Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per passenger.

  • Travel accident: Up to $1,000,000 coverage 😮 for accidental death or dismemberment when you use your card to book air, bus, train, or cruise transportation.

  • Emergency evacuation and transport: up to $100,000 in coverage for medical services and transportation for you or an immediate family member.

  • Rental car insurance: Up to $75,000 reimbursement for theft and collision damage when you decline the rental company’s insurance and charge the entire cost to your card. Coverage is primary.

2. Best Premium Card for Overall Travel Insurance: The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Amex Platinum is a fan favorite of the Daily Drop team, plus it offers some pretty solid travel health insurance and trip coverage for when you’re out circumnavigating the world.

One negative that you should be aware of is that coverage for trip cancellation/interruption and delay only applies if you’ve booked round-trip travel entirely with your eligible Amex card. One-way sprees won’t count.

  • Trip cancellation/interruption: Up to $10,000 per trip. Maximum coverage of $20,000 per 12-month period.

  • Trip delay: Up to $250 per covered person for meals and refreshments after four hours.

  • Baggage delay: Up to $1,000 to purchase essentials if your baggage is delayed after four hours.

  • Lost luggage: Up to a $1,200 reimbursement for your items if your luggage can’t be recovered.

  • Travel accident: Up to $500,000 coverage in case of accidental death or dismemberment when traveling on a common carrier.

  • Emergency or medical assistance: Up to $100,000 for emergency medical transport, $250,000 for emergency medical services, $1,000 for emergency dental treatment, and $1,000 for prescription expenses.

  • Car rental insurance: The lesser value of either up to the amount of the repair or the fair market commercial value of the rented vehicle.

3. Best Premium Card with Mid-Range Insurance Coverage: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

The Venture X is Capital One’s premium card. It not only offers premium travel perks, but it also has some decent travel insurance benefits. 

Its one downside is that it will only cover transportation costs if a trip needs to be canceled. Many other cards will also cover additional prepaid expenses up to a certain maximum.

  • Trip cancellation/interruption: Up to $2,000 per person in expenses (includes you, a spouse, and any dependent children).

  • Trip delay: Up to $500 reimbursement per person if your travel is delayed by six or more hours (or forces an overnight stay) and is outside of your home city.

  • Delayed/lost luggage: Up to $3,000 to replace or repair the bag and its contents (or $2,000 for New York residents 🤔).

  • Travel accident and emergency: up to $250,000 for death or dismemberment caused by common carriers. Cardholder and immediate family are covered.

  • Cell phone protection: Up to $800 for repair or replacement if your phone is stolen or damaged (must pay your cell phone bill with this card). Maximum of two claims and $1,600 per 12-month period.

  • Rental car insurance: Up to $75,000 in coverage for theft or damage (to the car and company, but not theft or damage to personal belongings). Must decline rental company’s insurance.

4. Best Mid-Priced Card for Travel Insurance: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best all-around cards out there with an annual fee under $100.

Cardholders get both travel health insurance and trip protection, and the coverage is actually pretty decent when compared to other mid-tier and higher-tier cards.

  • Trip cancellation/interruption: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. Maximum coverage of up to $40,000 per 12-month period.

  • Trip delay: Up to $500 per ticket/passenger for delays of more than 12 hours or requiring an overnight stay.

  • Delayed baggage: Up to $100 per day for five days to cover essentials if your luggage is delayed over six hours.

  • Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per passenger to replace essentials if your luggage is damaged or lost by the carrier when this card was used to book fares.

  • Travel accident: Up to $500,000 in case of death or dismemberment on a common carrier when this card was used to book fares.

  • Rental car insurance: Up to the actual cash value of the car in case of theft or damage. Must decline rental company’s insurance.

5. Best Mid-Tier Airline Card with Travel Insurance: UnitedSM Explorer Card

United members will love to hear that the Explorer card has some competitive travel health insurance and trip protection benefits.

We think that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the best mid-tier option, but those who are loyal United MileagePlus members may find more benefits with this option.

  • Trip cancellation/interruption: Up to $1,500 per person and up to $6,000 per trip for prepaid, non-refundable fares if canceled due to sickness, severe weather, or other covered situations.

  • Trip delay: Up to $500 per ticket/passenger for meals and accommodations if your common carrier is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay.

  • Delayed baggage: Up to $100 a day for three days if your baggage is delayed over six hours.

  • Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per passenger (including immediate family) if your luggage is damaged or lost by the carrier.

  • Travel accident: Up to $500,000 coverage in case of accidental death or dismemberment when you use your card to pay for air, bus, train, or cruise transportation.

  • Rental car insurance: Coverage includes up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft or damage when you decline the rental company’s insurance and charge the entire rental to your Explorer card.

6. Best Overall Hotel Rewards Card with Travel Insurance: IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card

The IHG Premier card is one of the best right now with its travel benefits. Cardholders will also be delighted to hear that its travel health insurance and trip protection coverage is also pretty comprehensive.

  • Trip cancellation/interruption: Up to $5,000 per person and $10,000 per trip for your prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses (including passenger fares, tours, and accommodations). Note: Doesn’t appear to have trip delay coverage.

  • Delayed baggage: Up to $100 reimbursement a day for three days if your baggage is delayed over six hours.

  • Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per person (you or an immediate family member) if your luggage is damaged or lost by the carrier.

  • Travel accident: Up to $500,000 in case of accidental death or dismemberment on a common carrier when you use this card.

  • Travel and emergency assistance services: If you need emergency medical or travel assistance, you can call the Benefit Administrator for legal, medical, or other travel referrals (on the back of your card), but you will be responsible for the cost of any goods or services obtained.

  • Rental car insurance: Must decline rental company’s insurance and charge entire rental cost to this card. Coverage is provided for theft or damage to the vehicle. Policy does not specify maximum amount covered (but likely up the cash value of the rental vehicle).

7. Best Budget Card with Travel Insurance: Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

We’ve talked a lot about Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Plus card lately (for good reason!).

It’s a budget card, so it definitely doesn’t have the level of travel insurance that some of the other cards do, but we figured it was still a great lower-tier card to mention — especially since many of us may have signed up for it to get that coveted companion pass!

  • Delayed baggage: Up to $100 per day for three days to purchase essentials after a delay of six hours or more by a passenger carrier.

  • Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per passenger reimbursement to replace damaged or lost luggage by the carrier.

  • Travel accident insurance: Up to $250,000 (Visa Platinum) or up to $500,000 (Visa Signature) coverage in the case of accidental death or dismemberment from a common carrier that was booked using this card.

  • Rental car insurance: Coverage up to the full cash value of the rental car when you decline the rental company’s insurance.

⁉️ Questions to Ask Yourself When Comparing Credit Card Travel Insurance

  • What types of travel insurance are provided on this card?

  • What do I need to do to qualify for the coverage? (e.g. Do I need to book flights, accommodations, and a rental car with the card?)

  • Does it cover travel partners?

  • What are the limitations, exceptions, and maximums to coverage?

  • What is the maximum length of trip covered?

  • Are there age restrictions/differences with coverage?

  • For medical emergencies, do pre-existing conditions affect coverage?

  • What countries am I covered to drive in?

💳 How to Submit a Credit Card Travel Insurance Claim

  • If you think you’re in a situation where you may be eligible to use your credit card’s travel insurance, your first step should be to call the number on the back of your card.

  • The benefits administrator/customer support will walk you through the steps needed to start your claim (this can usually be done online nowadays).

  • Again, each card and its policy is unique, so this process and any required documentation will vary. This is why contacting customer support directly is key.

🤓 Things to Remember When Using Credit Card Travel Insurance

  • It’s impossible to list every term, condition, limitation, and exclusion of each card here because each trip and scenario is unique, and this will ultimately set the parameters of if, when, what, and how much you may be covered or reimbursed for. Do your research and look at the fine print of the specific card you’re hoping to use for travel insurance.

  • In most cases, to even be eligible for coverage, you’ll need to use a specific card to make the purchases you’re hoping to ultimately have covered (e.g. claiming a trip cancellation/interruption on the same card you used to book the flights that got canceled).

And exhale😮‍💨

HOLY COW that was dense.

As you can see, the world of credit card travel insurance is not an easy one… Just like how being an adult isn’t easy, but THANK GOD we don’t have to do math homework anymore, right?

So… earlier I mentioned this other thing: independent insurance plans. Let’s spend our last few brain cells (briefly) going over these together 😊

Do I Need Additional Travel Insurance?

The short answer is, it depends.

Like I’ve said before, each trip is unique and each traveler’s situation is unique. All protection isn’t created equal.

For example, some credit card policies may only cover a certain amount of days. If your trip is going to extend past that, then you probably want to beef up your coverage with a third-party plan.

If you’re going on a super adventurous, high-risk-activity trip, you’ll probably want some stronger insurance that includes medical evacuation. The Sapphire Reserve offers emergency medical evac, but the Sapphire Preferred does not.

There are tons of scenarios where a certain card may not cover what you need, so that is where looking into an independent insurance plan may be necessary. Just know, these will come at an extra cost, but it’s for your peace of mind, right?

Here are a few independent travel insurance plans that could be good options for you if you choose to tack them on to the coverage you’re already getting (or aren’t getting) through your credit card.

Three Options for Independent Travel Insurance Plans

AXA offers three tiers of protection, so it’s definitely a plus to have options! And it’s pretty obvious to see the level of coverage for all their plans is a step up from many credit card travel insurance plans.

For example, their Platinum Plan offers protection for missed ski days and even sports rental equipment! I could have seriously used this when I wiped out in the Alps 😒

And here is an example of what you might expect to pay for coverage across their different tiers. These options have been priced for two people in their 30s and 40s going to Europe for one week.

If you’re planning a heavy sporting trip that requires lots of expensive rental gear or just lots of high-risk activities, you might consider one of AXA’s options.

Plus, as you can see, they’ve got loads of coverage for emergency medical evac just in case, you know, you get stranded on a mountain somewhere 😬

Travelex has some interesting options as well. If you’re planning a domestic trip across the U.S., many state-wide insurance plans you might get from an employer may not cover you when you leave your state’s borders, for example.

Their Travel Select plan also covers pre-existing conditions which is HUGE as many insurance policies want to stay out of that niche. They’ve also got adventure sports coverage which isn’t typically something you’ll see with a credit card.

For the same scenario of two adults going to Europe for a week, you can choose from their Travel Select or Travel Basic plans. Here’s an example of pricing.

And finally… SafetyWing is a unique insurance plan in the sense that it’s designed specifically for digital nomads or groups of remote teams around the world.

Not only do they offer some solid insurance coverage, but you can choose to pay by trip length (e.g. select the specific dates you want coverage) OR sign up for an ongoing, monthly plan if you’re a true nomad and want this as your primary coverage.

Monthly plans for an adult in their 30s start at $45.08 per four weeks — so basically a monthly plan.

If you’re in your 30s and are heading to Europe for a week, you can expect to see this price (per person).

Though I don’t believe SafetyWing has as comprehensive protection as the other two, I have personally used them when I’m traveling for an extended period of time and am working remotely. It’s been easy to set up and their customer service is great!

Final Thoughts on Using Credit Card (or Independent) Travel Insurance

I don’t know about you guys, but I am exhausted after all of that 😅

We all like to think of travel as this fun, explorative, learning experience… but sometimes, we have to deal with not-so-fun things that can go wrong.

It’s important to know what your coverage options are, how to maximize it, and what you need to do to actually use it if you’re ever in a less-than-desirable situation.

We hope this article answered some questions and gave you guidance in areas that you were previously unsure about!

So tell me, where are you (insured and safely) jet-setting off to next?! 🤗

Written By:

Post Itinerary

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