I’m a big American Express fan. Their Membership Rewards program is great (especially for those who hold the Business Platinum card — here’s why). My customer service experiences have almost always been stellar. They offer a wide range of credit and charge cards offering great perks and points earnings.
Amex recently added trip interruption, delay, and cancellation protection to several premium cards.
It’s a great benefit. But the way Amex phrases the benefit — while being somewhat specific — also raises some questions.
Amex Cards with Trip Cancellation, Delay, and Interruption Insurance
On January 1, the below cards received trip cancellation, delay, and interruption insurance as part of their benefits:
- Platinum Card from American Express
- Business Platinum Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
Amex Cards with Trip Delay Coverage Only
These cards provide reimbursement for delays of 12 or more hours:
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express
- American Express Gold Card
- American Express Business Gold Card
- American Express Green Card
We originally learned that a round trip’s entire fare must be paid with a qualifying American Express card. It sounded as though every cent needed to be paid with an Amex.
However, I did some deep digging yesterday and found this tidbit about trip coverage for the Platinum Card from American Express:
You must charge the full amount of a Covered Trip to your Eligible Card or in combination with your Eligible Card and accumulated points on your Eligible Card or redeemable certificates, vouchers, coupons, or discounts awarded from a frequent flyer program or similar program.
The Delta Reserve cards’ wording was the same when I compared them against the Platinum’s.
It certainly doesn’t sound like all trips are covered — unlike three Chase cards.
While Amex’s wording is fairly specific, I had more questions than answers after reading it.
So it sounds as though award ticket taxes paid with a qualifying American Express card should trigger the benefit’s eligibility. Right?
But what about, say, vouchers? Many of us know that not all vouchers are the same. For example, a Delta bump voucher isn’t issued by SkyMiles (a frequent flyer program). It’s issued by Delta Air Lines. Would those trips be covered?
I called Amex to find out.
So What’s the Big Deal?
The Amex rep immediately transferred me to AIG, the company that handles the benefit.
The AIG agent confirmed that, indeed, award ticket taxes paid with a qualifying American Express card would trigger the benefit’s eligibility. (We were talking specifically about my personal Amex Platinum card, FYI).
Then I asked about vouchers.
“Say I have a $200 voucher from Delta and want to apply it against a $500 airfare,” I said. “If I pay the outstanding $300 with my Platinum Card from American Express, is the trip covered?” She responded by quoting the “You must charge the full amount…” paragraph pasted above.
I understand the rep has to play it safe and stick to legalese. But the answer wasn’t entirely helpful.
So just for fun, I asked for a definite answer.
The answer was a shaky “yes,” the trip should qualify for coverage.
I wasn’t, however, completely confident about charging such future trips to any Amex (unless I have to. We’ll discuss in a minute.)
Here’s what Chase says under the “Travel Accident” section of their downloadable benefits guide for the Chase Sapphire Preferred:
The Cardholder and Immediate Family Members are covered when the Cardholder’s name is embossed on an eligible Card issued in the United States, and the Cardholder charges all or a portion of a Scheduled Airline fare to his or her Credit Card Account and/or Rewards programs associated with the Account. (Bold mine.)
So I can apply Delta gift cards to an airfare purchase and still be eligible when I use my Chase Sapphire Reserve. Brilliant! Plus, I don’t have to worry about “certificates, vouchers, coupons, or discounts” that aren’t, are, or might be “awarded from a frequent flyer program or similar program.”
And that wording is for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card — a card which carries a significantly lower annual fee than the premium Amex cards.
“If even Chase Sapphire Preferred‘s verbiage is more definitive than the Amex Platinum card — which is supposed to be the Cadillac of cards — that’s really saying something,” a friend quipped to me last night.
While CSR’s new $550 annual fee might be a turnoff, consider the much more affordable Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Preferred cards — both of which include good travel protection. Their trip delay coverage doesn’t kick in until hour 12, whereas the CSR’s is six hours, I believe.
Amex for Some Airfare Purchases; Chase for Others
For Delta flights that I pay in full (i.e. no discounts, miles, coupons applied), I charge those to my Platinum Card from American Express. That card earns 5X on purchases made directly with airlines. I should be fine with the trip protection coverages should a problem arise.
Same goes when I use a companion certificate from my Delta Reserve personal or business card. Paid portions of companion certificates must be charged an eligible American Express card. So I use the Amex Platinum card there, too.
For everything else — including Pay with Miles tickets, award flights, trips involving vouchers or gift cards, I’m sticking to my Chase Sapphire Reserve. I’m much more comfortable with Chase’s trip coverage wording.
Data Points? Clarification? What’s Your Plan?
Have you used Amex’s new travel coverage? If so, what were your results? Do you think Amex needs to clarify their wording — or is it fine as is? Which cards do you use for travel coverage? Please share your thoughts in the below Comments section!
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