Partial payment, full trip coverage

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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.

See also

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