Best Credit Cards for Travel Insurance Coverage in 2023

by joeheg

Most of the major banks offer credit cards that are geared towards high-end travelers. You must have seen the ads featuring models flaunting designer sunglasses, walking through beautifully lit tropical airports, and pulling their expensive carry-on bags. I am sure you know exactly what I’m referring to.

While the banks designed these cards to have the best benefits for frequent travelers, they’re not all equal. One card is leaps and bounds ahead of the others, and a surprising entry does better than cards costing 5x more.

While comparing credit cards for travel coverage, it is important to keep in mind that other factors such as annual fees, point values, sign-up bonuses, and points-earning opportunities should also be considered. These details can greatly impact the overall value and benefits of a credit card program.

First off, let’s remove the cards that aren’t in the competition.

Pulling up the rear

The Citi Prestige used to be a go-to card for travel expenses due to its top-notch travel protections. However, since 2019, all those benefits have been removed which has made the card almost useless for travelers.

Middle of the Pack

AMEX Platinum

The American Express Platinum card and several other premium cards from AMEX added back some travel coverages in January 2020. Currently, the Platinum Card offers coverages for lost luggage, trip delay, and trip interruption/cancellation.

For lost bag claims, you have to pay for the whole ticket with your AMEX Card.

  • Can rewards points be redeemed towards an Eligible Payment / Entire Fare? Yes, purchases on Eligible Cards that are combined with American Express Loyalty Programs, such as Membership Rewards® points or Pay with Points, would qualify for benefits.
  • However, other Loyalty Programs (i.e. Non-American Express) DO NOT qualify on purchases redeemed in part or full towards the fare or pre-arranged travel cost. An example would be Common Carrier Frequent Flyer Miles point redemption

For Trip Delay and trip interruption/cancellation, you’re able to use the card with points from a frequent flyer program.

  • 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.

Since the AMEX cards lack bag delay, they’re not in the running for first place.

Capital One Venture X

The Capital One Venture X card provides travel benefits through Visa Infinite. You must purchase a portion or the entire cost of the trip with your card or with points from the rewards program associated with your account.

  • Lost Luggage – $3,000
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption – $2,000 (need to pay the cost of the ticket with the card or using Capital One miles)
  • Trip Delay – $500 if a trip is delayed by 6 hours or overnight

These are good benefits, including the 6-hour limit for the trip delay coverage but it’s missing baggage delay.

US Bank Altitude Reserve

Another card that tried to break into the premium travel card market is the US Bank Altitude Reserve. They did a good job with the types of travel insurance coverage the card provides.

The card offers trip cancellation and interruption coverage, but only if you pay for the entire trip with your card or points from your account. The trip delay and lost luggage coverage apply if you pay for a part of your trip with the Altitude Reserve.

A surprising second-place finish

When starting research for the article, I was pretty sure about the winner. I was surprised when I found this runner-up card gives surprisingly good coverage for a reasonable annual fee.

The Bank of America Premium Rewards card provides all four types of travel insurance coverage:

  • Lost Luggage – $3,000
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption – $2,500
  • Trip Delay – $500 if a trip is delayed by 12 hours or more
  • Baggage Delay – $100 per day for up to 5 days if bags are delayed for more than 6 hours

You don’t often see this scope of coverage offered by a card with a $95 annual fee. Well, there’s another card that does but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The clear winner

There wasn’t any competition for which card provided the best comprehensive travel coverage.

The Sapphire Reserve card has all of the major coverages at levels far above the rest.

  • Lost Luggage – $3,000 per person per trip
  • Trip Cancellation/Interruption – $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip
  • Trip Delay – $500 per ticket if a trip is delayed by more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay
  • Baggage Delay – $100 per day for up to 5 days if bags are delayed for more than 6 hours

The Sapphire Reserve coverages specifically mention that coverage applies if you charged all or part of the fare to the card.

You and Your Family Members are covered when Your name is embossed on an eligible card issued in the United States, and You charge all or a portion of a Common Carrier fare to Your credit card Account and/or rewards programs associated with Your Account. Family Member means Your spouse/domestic partner and Your legally dependent children under the age of twenty–six (26).

In addition, the Sapphire Reserve also provides primary coverage against damages to rental cars.

Honorable Mention

While I said that this post would compare the premium cards from each bank, if I limited myself like that, I’d be leaving out a card that provides almost the same coverage as the Sapphire Reserve but with a much lower price tag.

The Sapphire Preferred gives you almost everything you get from the Sapphire Reserve with only a $95 annual fee. The only difference in the travel coverage is that the trip delay coverage kicks in at 12 hours or overnight instead of at 6 hours. There are also differences in the limits on the rental car coverage, with the Reserve covering luxury cars that the Preferred doesn’t.

Final Thoughts

When picking a card to pay for a trip, you need to think about which one will earn the most points while considering which one has the best travel coverage.

When I booked our package trip to Iceland, I used the Sapphire Reserve because of the $20,000 limit on the Trip Cancellation/Interruption coverage. Even though I bought travel insurance which would overlap, the piece of mind that if something had happened either before or during the trip, we’d be covered financially.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Boraxo September 24, 2021 - 10:35 am

You forgot the most valuable benefit which is trip evacuation coverage. If you need heart surgery or ICU treatment for covid, the CSR provides $100k coverage for private evacuation. That is worth more than a few pesos for lost luggage. There are many horror stories about medical treatment overseas.

joeheg September 24, 2021 - 11:26 am

This is correct.

DaninMCI November 6, 2022 - 4:14 pm

Amex Platinum provides medical evacuation coverage for many premium cards.

O.S. November 7, 2022 - 2:39 pm

What about the Ritz-Carlton card?? Same as the CSR?

O.S. November 19, 2023 - 9:27 pm

This article is just a “draft,” without discussion of the Ritz-Carlton card.


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