Partial payment, full trip coverage

In a recent post I discussed how Chase has sent out new benefit guides for the Chase Ink, Freedom, and Sapphire card lines.  In those new guides, many of the benefits are now available when you pay “some portion” with your card, whereas previously you had to pay the entire expense with your card to get any coverage.  In that prior post, I discussed purchase protections and whether they applied when paying partially with gift cards.  I found that with Chase’s new benefits, coverage does apply, but reimbursement is limited to the amount charged to your account.  See “Credit card purchase perks and how they apply when using gift cards” for full details. 

Today’s post is about travel coverage.  The question I sought to answer is whether you can be fully insured when you pay for travel only partially with your credit card.  It’s not unusual to pay partly with points, certificates, or gift cards so what does that do to your coverage?  Since the Sapphire Preferred card offers 2 points per dollar for all travel expenses, I decided to dig into the new Sapphire Preferred benefits guide to see what was offered in the way of travel protection and whether coverage is extended when you make partial payments…

First, the bad news

The first listed travel benefit is the auto rental collision damage waiver.  With the Sapphire card, this is secondary coverage within your country of residence and primary coverage elsewhere.  Unfortunately, to be covered, you must complete “the entire rental transaction using your card that is eligible for this benefit.”  If I read this correctly, using certificates or points to partially pay for your rental will invalidate your coverage.  This is standard across all credit cards that I’ve looked into, but it’s still bad news for those who pay partially with points, gift cards, or other certificates.

On to the good news

All of the rest of the Sapphire travel protections are covered as long as you charge “some portion” of the trip to your account!  Even better, unlike merchandise purchase protections, payout for these travel benefits is not limited to the amount charged to your account.  If I read the guide correctly, all of the following are covered in full if you pay in part with your Sapphire card:

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance

If something bad happens that causes you to cancel or interrupt a non-refundable trip, you will be reimbursed up to $5,000.  You will be reimbursed for the charges that can not be recovered in other ways.  Valid causes of cancellation or interruption include bodily injury, illness, loss of life, severe weather, jury duty and more. 

Lost luggage benefit

This benefit reimburses you for repairing or replacing checked or carry on bags and their contents when damaged, lost, or stolen.  You are covered up to $3,000 for each insured person, but only up to $500 per person for jewelry, watches, cameras, video recorders, and other electronic equipment.

Trip delay reimbursement

If your trip is delayed due to equipment failure, weather, labor strikes, hijacking or skyjacking (yeesh!), you may be reimbursed up to $500 per ticket for reasonable expenses incurred (e.g. meals, lodging, toiletries, etc.).

Baggage delay benefit

If your bags are delayed more than six hours, you may be reimbursed up to $100 per day for up to five days for purchases of essential items such as clothing, toiletries, etc.

Travel accident insurance

Here, you are covered up to $500,000 for loss of life.  If you lose body parts or speech or hearing, coverage is up to $250K or $500K depending on which ones you lose and how many. 

The fine print

For all of the above benefits, you should read the benefit guide for a complete list of inclusions and exclusions and other details.

Immediate Family

Other than the car rental benefit, all of the above benefits are extended to your “immediate family members.”  Chase has a wide view of this term.  The benefit guide states: 

Immediate Family Members means your Spouse or Domestic Partner and their children, including adopted children or stepchildren; legal guardians or wards; siblings or siblings-in-law; parents or parents-in-law; grandparents or grandchildren; aunts or uncles; nieces or nephews.

Strangely, in the Travel Accident Insurance section, “immediate family” is defined slightly differently:

Immediate Family Member means Your or Your Spouse’s or Domestic Partner’s children, including adopted children or stepchildren; legal guardians or wards; siblings or siblings-in-law; parents or parents-in-law; grandparents or grandchildren; aunts or uncles; nieces or nephews.

I’m sure the above is just a typo, but as stated it means that virtually everyone is covered except your spouse or domestic partner.  Again, I’m sure that wasn’t intended.

Ink, Freedom, and non-Preferred Sapphire

I haven’t yet had the chance to dive into the Chase Ink and Freedom guides with respect to travel benefits, but I expect that they are very similar.  Consult your card’s new benefits guide for details.  Note that the Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards provide primary car rental insurance within your country of residence when your trip is for business purposes.  And, note that the Chase Sapphire (not Preferred) has the same benefit guide as the Sapphire Preferred.

Conclusion

Chase provides an extensive set of travel protections automatically when you pay with your card.  When using miles, points, gift cards or certificates to pay for parts of a trip’s expenses, it would be a great idea to use your Chase Sapphire Preferred card for the rest of the expenses.  That way, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar and have full coverage for all but car rental insurance.

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About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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  1. This does not jive with what I have been told by Chase reps in the past reg: Auto Damage coverage. I have been told either all UR points (ie pay in full with UR points), part UR or all Chase card you are covered.

    • Jonathan Bauer: I’m pretty sure that baggage delay insurance is intended to cover the needed costs that are not covered by the airline. If you spend more than what the airline gave you, you might have to jump through some hoops to explain why the added expenses where necessary.
      .
      Nick: That’s probably true.
      .
      TWA44: Thanks!

  2. I have always wondered this, and wondered if you have any input: If my luggage gets delayed, can I double dip the amount I can spend per day? Normally airlines will reimburse $XX per day (this happened to me when SAS lost my luggage for more than 24 hours). Could I also tack on Chase’s per day allowance if I buy the ticket using my CSP? Any thoughts would be great! Thanks.

  3. So let’s say you have a $20 Discount PC code at Hertz that you are using while paying for the rental.

    Will you still get CDW coverage or is that invalidated by an alleged partial payment?

    Minos

    • Minos: I think that a rental car discount would be fine. The receipt should show the total price after the discount. The key is to show only one form of payment on the receipt: your credit card.
      .
      Valerie: If I read it right, the $5K is for the whole trip (air, hotel, etc.) for one person. If more than one person is affected and covered by the same policy (i.e. you used the same card to pay for a family members’ trip) then the coverage expands to cover additional people (but with a cap of $10K per occurrence). I don’t think medical expenses are covered unless they fall under the category of travel accidents. Check your personal health insurance to see what it covers when you travel.

  4. I’ve always been confused with travel insurance for award travel, doesn’t matter how many times I bought and read the t&c. Luckily, haven’t need to find out how it works. Is it correct if I pay the fees with a sapphire card for award tickets, they will reimburse me the award redeposit fees for cancelling the tickets? However, if the trip has commenced, they will reimburse up to $5k/person for return air? How is medical evacuation and medical expences covered? I’m assuming there is no coverage for that, which is why i buy insurance. And is $5k just for air, or does it include any other nonrefundable portions of trip, such as hotel n tour that’s paid with sapphire? Or is $5k for each portion I pay separately for air/land/sea with sapphire?

    • Jon: You bet!
      .
      Shahyan: Yes, you should be covered even for Groupon or Living Social packages
      .
      Elenor: Are you sure you need primary insurance from your credit card? If you have your own car insurance it most likely covers rental cars as well.
      .
      jessica: The United MileagePlus card is a good example of one that offers primary rental insurance.

      • Don’t need it — I suppose I’m being silly wanting to “protect” my insurance co. (USAA) from paying for a rental car… (NOT that I’m going to need to {fingers crossed}!)

  5. Does this kind of coverage extend to package deals purchased from GroupOn or Living Social? We used our Sapphire card to buy a trip recently… curious if I can rely on the card for coverage.

  6. I was interested (dismayed?) to see it spelled out in the new Ink Bold ‘booklet’ that it’s primary coverage for business trip car rental, but secondary for personal rental. (How they determine that I don’t know! But I suspect it gives them a legal ‘out’ if they find out you were not on a biz trip?)

    That said (er… written), I am turning in my sensible rental car after my four days of biz, and renting a convertible for my four days driving to and staying in Key West. Just have to figure out if I have a card that gives me primary on pleasure rentals. {sigh}

  7. This is great for trip interruption or accidental events.

    But to cover medical, evacuation and acts of terror or God it is better to buy insurance from a reputable company like Travelex, AIG or Travel Guard. Preferably within 15 days of initial downpayment to get you covered for preexisting medical conditions. Personally I buy from companies that offer Primary medical instead of secondary medical benefits.

    My rule of thumb is, for US travel and Canada, I skip the above insurance and use the services that Chase provides. For foreign travel, I buy trip insurance like I mentioned above. Squaremouth dot com is a great site to shop.

  8. I wrote: I am turning in my sensible rental car after my four days of biz, and renting a convertible for my four days driving to and staying in Key West.

    Whew! Never mind! Priced it out: It would be ~$700 to do this 2-car thing using Costco! (And ~$700 for the convertible for the week.) Ouch! Going through the Chase UR Mall? Around 27K points or under $350 on the Ink Bold for the convertible for the whole week! Thank you Chase!

  9. Oh my! I heard back from Chase (I have the Ink Bold) the following. I wrote a Secure Msg:

    I’ve been investigating the UR Mall, planning to rent a car probably using UR points . I’ve been reading the new Guide to Benefits y’all sent recently, but I haven’t found an answer to my concern about renting a car using points.

    If I plan to rent it through the UR Mall, using UR points, and paying whatever extra charges there are (taxes or whatever) on my Ink Bold (it’s a business trip), am I provided with the Chase Auto Rental CDW as outlined in the Guide to Benefits? Or do I need to rent the car *paying* with the Ink Bold to get that coverage?

    The Guide doesn’t say anything about renting using points.

    The Chase rep wrote back:

    Let me inform you that you will be unable to claim for the Auto Rental CDW if purchased using points. Please note that you must secure and charge the eligible rental to your card to get the benefit of Auto Rental CDW.

    For more information or to file a claim, call the Benefit Administrator at 1-888-320-9956 (outside the U.S. call
    collect at 1-804-673-1691).

    • Thanks, Elenor, for sharing all this info. So now I guess the question is, can we trust the rep? Sometimes, as we all know, the reps give out info that is not necessarily correct. In this case, if I needed the insurance (that is, did not already have coverage through my own car insurance) I would trust the rep! Better safe than sorry! Have a great trip!

  10. Thanks, Elenor, for sharing all this info. So now I guess the question is, can we trust the rep?

    You’re welcome Elaine. I wasn’t willing to leave well (or badly!) enough alone. I called the Chase rep and actually reached a supervisor who was filling in! She had never had the question: I rented the car through the UR Mall, and it did not give me the option to rent for all-money (on the Ink Bold), so I rented it using one point and the rest charged to my Bold. Did that means I was not provided the CDW coverage, even though Chase didn’t offer me the chance to pay for the whole rental using my Chase card?

    She couldn’t find an answer, so put me on hold while she set up a three-way call with the actual benefits person (the one or ‘a’ one who actually handles people calling in a claim). The answer from the benefits person was that ‘yes, as long as I used my Chase card for part and Chase UR points for the rest, I did actually get the coverage.

    I would still like to get that in writing — and I’ll probably try! But at least I got a supervisor’s word, and a benefits ?? adjuster? authorizer? person’s word.

    (Certainly it make SENSE that if you buy through the UR Mall (using your Chase card), they’d provide the coverage they offer… How much can we rely on sense?!)

  11. I have a similar question as Velerie’s: if we pay the tax/fee part of an award travel with one of those cards that offer travel insurance, do we still get coverage? I am planning an award trip that involves 5 different airlines and 8 segments, for which I fear some of them may bring up the need for contacting the insurance rep.

  12. I’m assuming nothing has changed in terms of getting full coverage in the context of partial payment (e.g. Gift cards + Sapphire Visa Sig or Preferred)?

      • So I just contacted Chase about this and gave her the following scenario when asking about Trip Cancellation coverage: “what if I used $50 of gift cards on a $300 ticket and charged the rest to the credit card?”

        She [confidently] replied saying that I will *only* be covered for the amount I paid that was charged to the credit card…. gahh. I just applied a bunch of gift cards to a bunch of flights I got for my wife, myself, and my in-laws 🙁

        Unless she was mistaken and had no idea what she was talking about, I’m probably SOL on the amount I spent on the GCs.

        • Doh, I just re-read your initial post and completely overlooked or didn’t realize the obvious:
          “I found that with Chase’s new benefits, coverage does apply, but reimbursement is limited to the amount charged to your account.”

          *sigh* – let’s just hope nothing happens to any of us between now and then (January). On the flip-side (and I guess bright-side, assuming nothing happens), in purchasing the GCs with my new Ink Business Cash card, I’ve gotten much closer to the bonus I’ll get for spending $3k in the first few months :T

        • My statement at the top about coverage being limited to the amount charged to you account was specific to the purchase protections covered in the previous article. The benefits guide, there, is clear that you can only get back up to the amount you spent. With trip coverage, though, it doesn’t say that.

          I think that you have a really good shot of being covered regardless of what the phone rep said.

          With regards to trip cancellation insurance, for example, the benefits guide says: “Covered Trip means any pre-paid tour, trip or vacation when some portion of the cost for such travel arrangements less any redeemable
          frequent flyer miles, points, coupons or certificates, or other types of redeemable Rewards has been charged to your Account”

          I read that as meaning that your trip is covered as long as even a penny is charged to your Chase account. On the other hand, I’m no lawyer…

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