With infections spreading across the globe and many countries on lockdown, The current coronavirus pandemic has ground travel to a halt. If you had travel planned this spring or summer, you may be dealing with the disappointing fact that your trip will no longer be happening. If your plans have been affected, you’re probably wondering about the costs associated with canceling or rescheduling flights, hotel reservations and more.
Credit cards travel insurance may help you get your money back in some cases, like if you contract COVID-19 yourself or have otherwise been specifically instructed not to travel. In other cases, however, credit cards may not reimburse you if you decide to play it safe and voluntarily cancel your plans. The good news is that many companies are adopting more lenient cancellation policies in the face of this unprecedented pandemic. Airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and tour companies, among others, are waiving fees and allowing customers to reschedule. After all, they’d like your business back after the current crisis passes.
How credit card travel insurance works
Credit card travel insurance is one way that your travel costs may be covered if you end up having to cancel your plans. In most cases, credit card companies will reimburse travel expenses if a trip is canceled for a specific, unexpected reason, like illness or a natural disaster. However, travel insurance doesn’t always apply to ongoing issues, like war (or a pandemic). Credit card travel insurance protects cardholders against certain types of risks, including:
- Injury or illness
- Natural disasters
- Terrorist attacks
- Jury duty
- Military status change
In general, there are a few circumstances that credit card travel insurance doesn’t cover, even if your plans unexpectedly change. These include:
- Pandemics or epidemics
- Sports injuries
- Mental illness
- Loss of income
In other words, if you cancel your travel plans because you got laid off or because of the coronavirus, your credit card travel insurance may not cover it. Reimbursement policies may vary from company to company, so you should make sure to check in with a representative to see what fee waivers you may be eligible for.
How cancellation policies are changing in light of coronavirus
In light of the pandemic, some companies in the travel industry are adopting more lenient cancellation policies. If you have had to cancel plans because of COVID-19, you should reach out directly to the business you canceled with to see what their policies are regarding coronavirus-related cancellations.
Airlines including American, Delta, United and Southwest have all updated their flight change and cancellation policies to account for coronavirus. Since, in many cases, these airlines have suspended flights to other countries during the pandemic, they’re offering their customers the opportunity to reschedule or receive a refund for their trip. Hotels including Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt and Choice have all also issued new policies in regards to the current health crisis. In many cases, these companies are waiving cancellation and change fees.
If you’ve had to cancel travel plans because of the current pandemic, you should reach out to the businesses you’ve had to cancel with to determine their refund policy and find out more about rescheduling your trip. Keep in mind that, since many people are in the same boat, their customer service lines may be busier than usual. If possible, see if you’re able to cancel or reschedule online.
When it comes to planning or booking future travel, it may be wise to wait a few months to see how the situation develops. Health officials are still unsure how long the current crisis will last, including guidelines to shelter in place and temporarily close non-essential businesses. While experts are confident that the pandemic will eventually wind down, it’s probably a good idea to not schedule any unnecessary travel for the next few months.
The best credit cards for travel insurance
The coronavirus pandemic has changed how we plan. If the possibility of future pandemics weighs on your mind and you now find yourself in the market for a credit card with excellent travel insurance, the following cards can help you get your money’s worth if your travel plans are interrupted. These cards also come with a variety of additional perks, including rewards points, discounts and more.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a popular rewards credit card with excellent benefits and travel insurance. If your trip is canceled or cut short due to illness, natural disaster or other covered situations, they’ll reimburse you up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. Eligible expenses include plane tickets, hotel rooms and tours. They also offer other benefits like rewards points, trip delay reimbursement, lost luggage reimbursement and travel and emergency assistance.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a whole host of benefits, including travel insurance. They will reimburse expenses up to $10,000 per trip for covered cancellation reasons, including illness, injury and natural disasters. They also offer rewards points for travel-related purchases, a credit for TSA pre-check and free Uber Cash each month.
We’ve also reviewed best credit cards to consider for travel, annual fees, rewards and more.
The bottom line
While you can’t always plan for emergencies such as the coronavirus, credit card travel insurance can help give you peace of mind when it comes to other emergencies, like illness, injury or natural disasters. If you fund your travel expenses with a credit card, it’s a good idea to try to pay off your balance in full if possible and to lower your credit card interest rate if you can.
If you’re considering canceling plans due to the pandemic, it’s better safe than sorry. It’s not a good idea to travel and expose yourself or others to risk. In most cases, you’ll be able to cancel or reschedule your current reservations without too much of a hassle. If you’re thinking of rebooking a canceled trip, consider waiting a few months to see what travel guidelines and restrictions will be like in the future.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
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