How to Get Your Bank to Pay You When Your Flight is Delayed or Luggage Gets Lost

Yesterday I got (multiple, cough) e-mails from Citibank about new benefits for their American Airlines co-brand products.

With an email subject line like “Important Information About Your Protection Benefits” I assumed they’d be taking away benefits so Citi really needs to get better e-mail subject writers. In fact with a subject line like that, I’d be just as likely as not to not even open the e-mail, except that I’d perversely interested in the minutiae of ancillary benefits. (Here’s how the credit card I used for the purchase paid for the cracked screen on my phone.)

And since so many of you have American Airlines co-branded credit cards, it seemed worth flagging.

Here’s the e-mail’s summary of benefits from the Citi Platinum Select / AAdvantage Mastercard:

And the benefits highlight from the Citi Executive / AAdvantage World Elite Mastercard:

The differences presumably are driven by the former product being a premium Mastercard, while the latter the higher-end still ‘World Elite’ Mastercard.

Yet oddly both emails link to the same full coverage guide offering full details of the benefits effective November 23.

(There are also updated guides for Hilton co-brand, Citi Prestige, and Citi Chairman American Express and presumably other cards as well — if you received an email for another card, I’d love it if you posted the link to the benefits guide from it in the comments!)

To me the emails simply serve as a good reminder that premium cards come with protections, that I’m actually surprised seem to genuinely be improved since most consumers aren’t even aware that they exist. It is hard to imagine that many consumers are making their credit card decisions on the basis of these — but since premium Visa cards, Amex cards, and Mastercards all offer them they represent an area where none want to fall behind. And indeed, these premium Mastercard products aren’t the only ones getting new benefits, Chase Sapphire Preferred just got primary rental car collision and doubled trip cancellation/interruption coverage.

For most people, the takeaway is simply, “If something goes wrong along the way with your travel, and you incur extra costs, might as well check with the credit card you used to pay your tickets to see if you can get something back. And if an item you purchased drops in price, or breaks, could be worth asking your credit card if you get anything.” That simple mindset is enough in many ways, just be aware that if you don’t do this you could be leaving money on the table.

If you want to dig into the nuances, though,

  • Checked baggage coverage applies after just 3 hours of non-delivery and will reimburse up to $500 for items you need that were in your bags. (This doesn’t apply upon return to your home city.)

  • The secondary collision damage coverage is $100,000 and doesn’t exclude any country.

  • Medical evacuation coverage is up to $100,000 – a great benefit, though not all cards offering it have a cap.

Oddly, award tickets don’t carry these benefits. On the one hand, you’re not charging the airfare (just taxes, fees) to the card. On the other hand, it’s a card you’re supposed to use to earn the miles for the award ticket in the first place so excluding those tickets from the card’s benefits seems odd.

See also Here’s How Travel Insurance Works With Award Tickets, where I explain medical evacuation coverage as one of the things otherwise actually worth considering buying and that many of the coverages you’ll actually use come with premium credit cards.

It can still be a pain to file these claims, but it’s money that most people don’t even realize they have!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m puzzled as to “How I’m going to get my Bank to Pay Me When my Flight is Delayed or Luggage Gets Lost”.
    The article doesn’t cover this.

  2. I had a great experience using the delayed luggage benefit with the Chase Sapphire Preferred this summer. I had a bag that was delayed for about 24 hours on a Star Alliance itinerary Air Canada/Lufthansa. Upon arriving in Berlin and finding that my bag was still in Toronto, Lufthansa gave me an amenity kit and informed me that I could buy necessary supplies and that they would reimburse 100% for grooming products and 50% for clothing (up to 100 euros) that I needed until my bag arrived. Actually, they were willing to reimburse up to 100% for the clothing if I sent it in to the service center once my bag arrived. I figured I would rather keep any clothing that I took the time to purchase, so I checked into my benefits with the CSP in terms of late luggage. Their phone agent helped me file a claim, which turned out to be fairly easy. So, I ended up getting reimbursed 100% (50% from Lufthansa and 50% from Chase’s insurance company) plus got to keep the outfit I bought in Berlin. All in all, both Lufthansa and Chase were very easy to work with on the claim, so I ended up with a free outfit for the hassle.

  3. These benefits aren’t going to influence what cards I get. That’s primarily decided by sign up bonuses.

    But they will influence what card I use to make a major purchase. I will use a card that gives me an extended warranty for any significant purchase, assuming I don’t buy such coverage from the store. And though I have never had a need to use it, I also love when there is a 90 day broken, stolen, or unreturnable benefit.

    I was keeping my Chase United card, paying the annual fee, and yet only using it for car rentals. As soon as the CSP offered primary coverage I canceled the United card. Now all of my rentals get charged to the CSP, and I don’t pay any attention to discount offers that require me to use a different card.

  4. That exception for awards is disappointing. However, it’s only if booked using American miles, so you can use it on Avios tickets, or Delta Skymile awards etc., and still get coverage.

    I’ts a weird exception.

  5. Robert Hanson –

    At least for the CSP for my trip this summer, the travel benefits applied if all or part of the ticket was paid for with the credit card. In the case I described above, I was traveling on an award ticket and had just paid the taxes and fees (about $20 as I recall) with my CSP. They didn’t blink at all in reimbursing me for the leftover amount that Lufthansa didn’t cover.

  6. Note that AX Platinum just announced that they are discontinuing event protection the end of this year so its nice Citi is providing.

  7. @beachfan – Citi front line agent says otherwise, that all awards are excluded. I know they’re unreliable and asked for a specialist, but the call was taking forever and I had to drop it. If anyone receives a reliable confirmation from Citi, please post it.

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