Q: It seems like trip cancellation insurance is a common free benefit on travel cards. Do they cover you for any reason if you cancel?
A: As you point out it’s a common benefit and you will even find it on some of the free travel credit card deals. Although the rules and exclusions will vary by issuer, credit card trip cancellation insurance typically works something like this:
1. Only “Common Carrier” transportation qualifies. That consists of passenger planes, trains, cruises, etc. Driving somewhere yourself is not Common Carrier transportation.
2. You must have paid for the trip in full using your card. For example, if you paid for half the trip with cash and half with your credit card, you won’t be covered.
3. You can’t cancel for any reason. Only some circumstances qualify. Check with the issuer but typically you are covered if there is a sudden illness or injury (happening to yourself, your travel partner under the same reservation, or an immediate family member you have to care for). Please note that pre-existing medical conditions won’t qualify.
If any of these things happen and they prevent you to travel, then there’s a good chance you are covered. If someone in your immediate family dies and you need to attend their funeral, that’s typically covered too.
4. The maximum amount of coverage is usually around $1,500 to $3,000. If your trip costs more than that, you won’t be reimbursed for reimbursed for the difference.
5. Credit card trip cancellation insurance is secondary to other forms of reimbursed. For example, if the hotel agrees to refund the money, don’t expect the credit card company to pay you for it too. If you have any other travel insurance plans, you will need to make a claim on them first.
But I want coverage to cancel for any reason!
You won’t get that from a credit card but you can buy a policy elsewhere. These plans usually run into the hundreds.
The above is an example quote I ran for a $3,000 trip with coverage for myself only.
Trip cancellation insurance for any reason like this requires you to purchase it shortly after booking your trip (usually within 15 or 21 days) and if end up having to cancel, you might have to give a 48 hour notice before your departure date.
Another caveat to keep in mind is that the cancel for any reason policies might not be available to cover the full price of your trip; coverage may only be for 75% (or less) to discourage you from making a claim.
There are no credit cards that offer “for any reason” trip cancellation insurance, but you can buy it on your own. The catch is that it doesn’t come cheap and you probably won’t be getting coverage for the full price of your trip.
Meanwhile when it comes to credit cards that might provide free trip cancellation coverage on qualifying travel purchases in the event of sickness, injury, and death, here are a few you may wish to check out. Consult the given issuer for Restrictions, Terms & Conditions.
- Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- United Airlines MileagePlus Explorer
Written or last updated August 17, 2013