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Grounded flights, airline shutdowns: How your cards can cover you

Many cards offer travel insurance, but read the fine print to see what’s included


The grounding of Boeing Max 737s, the shutdown of Wow Air and other airline troubles have left travelers stranded around the globe in recent weeks. Read on to find out how your credit card might offer relief if you get stuck somewhere due to a flight cancellation or delay.

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The grounding of Boeing Max 737s, the shutdown of Wow Air, a computer glitch that delayed U.S. flights, and brutal winter weather have all left travelers stranded around the globe in recent weeks.

But your credit card might offer a bit of relief.

Many credit cards provide various types of travel insurance, such as reimbursing you for prepaid expenses if your trip is canceled. Or they might cover costs such as lodging and meals if your trip is delayed.

You don’t pay extra for the coverage as long as all or part of the trip is charged to that particular card.

But the cards usually have a detailed list of what’s covered – and what’s not.

See related:  Trip canceled? Your credit card may reimburse you

Your card may not cover you in all situations

The grounding of the Max 737s after two fatal crashes, and the sudden shutdown of Wow Air, a budget carrier out of Iceland, “are both kind of tricky situations,” says Steven Benna, content director at Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison site.

Even travel insurance policies that you purchase on your own might not cover such situations, Benna says, so it’s imperative that you read all the fine print.

One option is to check the credit card you’re using to book your trip to see what benefits it provides, and then supplement it with travel insurance you purchase on your own.

For example, if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, with a hefty $450 annual fee, or a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, with a $95 annual fee, both offer trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance of up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per covered trip. The cards provide the coverage for a number of reasons, including the “financial insolvency” of your “travel agency, tour operator or tour supplier.”

However, they don’t cover arrangements that are canceled or changed by a “common carrier, tour operator or any travel agency” unless the change or cancellation is due to severe weather or a strike involving public transportation.

With the Citi Double Cash Card, trip cancellations and interruptions are covered up to $5,000 per trip. The coverage is available if you have to cancel your trip due to a number of personal reasons, or if the trip is canceled or interrupted due to severe weather.

If your trip is delayed by at least 12 hours because of the common carrier, or because of severe weather or a natural disaster, the Citi Double Cash Card will reimburse you for up to $500 worth of expenses. These include lodging, ground transportation, meals and personal items, such as toiletries.

Meanwhile, the Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card provides trip interruption and cancellation insurance of up to $2,000 due to the financial insolvency of a common carrier.

Depending on your card, the travel insurance benefits provided may cover you, your spouse, your domestic partner or your dependent children.

See related:  Need to cancel a nonrefundable flight or hotel? You might have options

When to consider buying travel insurance

If you want to add extra protections, you might want to purchase travel insurance, but you need to read all the details to make sure it meets your needs.

In 2016, more than 42.6 million Americans bought travel insurance, spending almost $2.8 billion, according to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association (UStiA). A policy usually costs about 5 percent to 7 percent of the cost of your trip

Price is based on the cost of the trip, the length of the trip, and the traveler’s age, Benna says.

If you’re about to start planning for your summer travels, this is the time to check your credit cards and see if they provide the travel insurance coverage you need, and then decide if you should purchase travel insurance to fill in any gaps you have.

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The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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