Q: Which American Express cards come with trip cancellation insurance? Does it mean I can cancel for any reason and get my money refunded?
A: There are a few credit cards on the market that come with trip cancellation and interruption coverage but surprisingly, none of the AmEx cards offer it. You won’t even find it on their high-end Platinum and Centurion cards.
That being said, you can buy American Express trip cancellation coverage from them for a fee, regardless of whether or not you are an AmEx cardmember. The fees and exact level of coverage vary by state. You can’t get refunded “for any reason” but there are quite a few things covered. Here’s a review of the coverage and exclusions with their Global Travel Shield insurance.
You or a Family Member are unexpectedly and seriously sick or injured
What constitutes “seriously” sick or injured? Well the phone rep I spoke to said a doctor usually has to document that you are not well enough to travel. This also echoes the feedback I have heard from forum posters regarding this type of claim.
On the other hand, if you are fine but are making the claim due to a family member’s health, the rep said “they will have to be critically ill or require you to care for them.”
Adverse weather conditions or natural disasters
I told the phone rep that the definition of “adverse weather” is definitely in the eye of the beholder, so she should explain to me what qualifies and what doesn’t.
Her response was that “adverse weather” means that your common carrier travel (plane, train, ship, etc) has to be cancelled for 24 hours or longer due to weather conditions. Coverage doesn’t apply to driving, so if you booked a hotel 500 miles away and a snow storm is preventing you from driving there, you will not be able to make a claim.
A labor dispute affecting travel services
I haven’t heard from any members who have had to make a claim under this one. As to what situations would be “labor disputes” one example would be if your airline went on strike and grounded their flights, and hence, you weren’t able to take your trip. The rep also mentioned that a bankruptcy would also fall under this category.
Your job is unexpectedly terminated
The website for AmEx trip cancellation insurance says “Please see your plan documents for a complete list of covered reasons.” Well, that’s not too helpful in my opinion, because wouldn’t people want to know the details before they buy?!
I had the rep email me the details and as expected, there is quite a bit of fine print with this one. The exclusion I was most surprised by was length of time at job. You must have been at the same job for 2 years. I specifically asked if working consecutively for 2 years at different jobs would count and she said no.
In summary, this benefit may be applicable if you are fired or laid off. But all the rules and fine print vary by state so you should call them directly to find out which circumstances would be applicable in your situation: 1-800-332-4899
Important things to remember
- You will only be reimbursed for the non-refundable portions of your trip. So if your airline ticket is non-refundable, AmEx will cover it. But if your hotel stay is refundable, then you should cancel and get the refund yourself.
- The costs vary based on the state you life, price of travel, and where you are traveling to.
- There are alternatives to paying for this American Express trip cancellation insurance. For example, after the 2% rewards, the Discover Escape card is probably best known for offering a wide array of insurance benefits, including trip cancellation/delay coverage.
Last updated in 2012