The 9 Best Credit Cards for Lost or Delayed Baggage Coverage in 2019

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It’s comes as no surprise to frequent travelers that airlines sometimes mishandle baggage. The good news, however, is that the rate at which bags are mishandled has declined significantly. This improvement comes even as the number of travelers worldwide has increased over 60% in a 10-year period.

This welcome decline, detailed in a 2018 report by air transport IT specialist SITA, is a result of increased airline automatic baggage tracking systems, new regulations requiring airlines to track bags, home-printed bag tags, self-service bag drops, and other technology advancements in baggage tracking.

According to SITA, the number of mishandled bags worldwide is down from 18.88 bags per thousand in 2007 to just 5.57 bags per thousand in 2017. In the U.S., your chances of mishandled bags are even lower at 2.4 per thousand.

The lower frequency of lost, damaged, or delayed bags may mean little, unless the mishandled bag is your bag.

Lost, damaged, or delayed baggage coverage that comes with your travel rewards credit card can alleviate the pain of the experience. Coverage that compensates you for lost or damaged luggage, lost contents, or replacements items due to a delay, can be a welcome benefit should you need it.

While airlines are required to compensate you when your bags are mishandled, it’s good to have complimentary baggage coverage as a back up if airline compensation does not cover your entire loss.

Here’s a review on how baggage insurance works, which cards carry this useful coverage, and  some helpful tips on how to avoid lost, stolen, and delayed baggage.

How Does Baggage Insurance Work?

There are several things that can happen to your baggage during your trip. The common carrier could lose your bags, the bags could become damaged, someone could steal your bags, or your bags could just be delayed.

Regardless of the event, you’ll still be inconvenienced, and you may even incur unplanned expenses.

Here’s what you can expect when you have baggage insurance on your credit card.

Lost, Damaged, or Stolen Baggage Insurance

This coverage normally covers an incident where your bag is lost, damaged, or stolen, while in the care of a common carrier such as an airline, train, bus company, or cruise line. Coverage includes the cost of the contents and either replacing or repairing the lost/damaged baggage.

The common carrier would normally provide compensation for such an incident. The lost, damaged, or stolen baggage insurance that comes on your credit card is in excess of, or secondary to, coverage above what the airline would pay.

The top 2 reasons bags get lost, as reported by SITA, are the following:

  • Lost during connections
  • Ticketing errors or bag switches

The current limit of liability for airlines is $3,500 for each bag lost, damaged, stolen or delayed domestically, and around $1,600 for international travel itineraries.

Delayed Baggage Insurance

Delayed baggage insurance is really a means of reimbursing you for incidental expenses you incur when your bags are delayed longer than a specified amount of time.

According to the 2018 SITA report cited earlier, the top reasons for delayed baggage include:

  • Transfer mishandling (47%)
  • Loading error or failure to load (19%)
  • Ticket error or bag switch (15%)
  • Arrival mishandling
  • Airport customs/weather/space or weight restrictions
  • Tagging error

Regardless of the reason your bags are delayed, chances are you’ll need to replenish essential items while you’re without your possessions. Airlines are required to reimburse for incidental expenses up to the $3,500 domestic, and approximately $1,600 internationally.

SITA Baggage Report
Although the number of travelers has increased significantly, your chances of having mishandled bags has drastically diminished. Image Credit: SITA

The Best Chase Credit Cards for Baggage Insurance

Chase offers 2 types of coverage for mishandled baggage. Its Lost Luggage Reimbursement and Baggage Delay Insurance coverage give you peace of mind if your baggage is lost, damaged, stolen, or delayed.

  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement provides a benefit of up to $3,000 per person, per trip, for lost, damaged, or stolen luggage whether checked or carry-on.
  • Baggage Delay Insurance coverage on the card includes a benefit of up to $100 per day for 5 days for the reimbursement of essentials such as toiletries and clothing.

The following Chase issued credit cards offer these coverage levels unless otherwise noted:

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers a long list of travel insurance benefits including primary rental car insurance coverage, trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, and trip delay coverage.

If you’re looking for more information, read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review to learn more.

Chase Ink Business Preferred®

Similar to the Sapphire Preferred, the Ink Business Preferred card also offers travel insurance benefits including primary rental car insurance coverage, trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, and trip delay coverage.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Sapphire Reserve is a premium travel rewards card that offers equally premium travel benefits. In addition to baggage insurance, you’ll find travel related benefits including worldwide airport lounge access, travel statement credits, 50% more redemption value for travel, and the ability to transfer points to travel partners.

United℠ Explorer Card and United MileagePlus® Club Card

Both the United Explorer and MileagePlus Club card offer coverage of up to $3,000 per trip for lost or damaged luggage is provided with the card. Baggage delayed over 6 hours has a benefit of $100 per day for up to 3 days for reimbursement of essentials.

Baggage coverage is one of the many benefits of the United Explorer card, so these card might be worth considering if you’re a loyal United flyer.

Chase Baggage Insurance Coverage and Other Benefits

What is Covered on Chase Cards?

Checked or carry-on baggage is covered along with personal property within the baggage.

Who is covered on Chase Cards?

Chase covers the cardholder and immediate family. Immediate family is defined by Chase to include your spouse, domestic partner, your children (including adopted children and stepchildren), legal guardians or wards, siblings or siblings-in-law, parents or parents-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, along with aunts and uncles.

Car on Road Unsplash
Whether traveling by air or making a classic road trip, travel protections and benefits can provide help when you need it. Image Credit: Alex Mares via Unsplash

Additional Chase Travel Protections and Benefits

It wouldn’t make sense to select a credit card based solely on whether it has complimentary baggage insurance. Selecting a credit card that offers a complete package of useful and money saving travel protections and benefits is more ideal.

Look for these additional coverages on Chase travel rewards cards to ensure you’re selecting a card with the most benefits that are best for you.

Rental Car Collision Damage Waiver

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and several other Chase credit cards offer primary rental car insurance that covers damage and theft when renting a vehicle.

Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption

Trip cancellation insurance reimburses covered individuals for non-refundable pre-paid trip expenses if a covered loss prevents them from traveling and the trip is canceled as a result.

Trip interruption insurance offers coverage during the trip for unexpected events that cause the trip to be disrupted.

Trip Delay Insurance

Trip Delay Coverage reimburses you for incidentals should your trip be delayed. Cards that include trip delay coverage include the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Roadside Dispatch

Receive 24/7 assistance with emergency transportation, gas delivery, flat tire changes, jump starts, and more.

Travel Accident Insurance

Provides benefits for severe injury or death due to a common-carrier related tragedy.

Emergency Evacuation Coverage

The Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the United Club Card have coverage for emergency evacuation transportation services.

Lounge Access

The United Club card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer complimentary airline lounge access.

Emergency Medical Coverage

Receive up to $2,500 reimbursement for emergency medical and dental with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Bottom Line: Selecting a travel rewards credit card with a package of benefits and protections you can use will save you money and give you peace of mind during your travels. 

Luggage Tag
Loss or damaged luggage can cost you time, inconvenience, and unexpected expense. Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

The Best American Express Cards for Baggage Insurance

While American Express cards do not carry baggage delay insurance, you’ll find coverage for lost, stolen, and damaged luggage on over 50 American Express issued cards.

Here are some of the best cards that carry the American Express Baggage Insurance Plan.

The Platinum® Card from American Express

The Platinum Card is considered one of the best premium travel rewards cards available. With a long list of luxury travel benefits such as worldwide lounge access, hotel and car rental elite status, 5x bonus earning categories, and travel statement credits, the card is a wise choice for the frequent traveler.

Read our Amex Platinum Card review to learn more about the ideal cardholder, card pros and cons, and how to maximize your point earnings.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Pay for your entire common carrier ticket with your Platinum Card or Business Platinum Card and/or Membership Rewards points and receive up to $3,000 in coverage for carry on bags and $2,000 for checked baggage for a covered loss or damage incident. The Baggage Insurance Plan coverage amount is the total per person, per trip.

As with the consumer version of the card, the Business Platinum offers a ton of benefits —including travel benefits, travel booking benefits, Wi-Fi packages, car rental/roadside assistance, and more. If these sounds like benefits your business would utilize, discover more in our Amex Business Platinum review.

American Express® Gold Card

The Amex Gold Card has a dual personality. It’s a fine choice as a travel rewards card for both earning and redemption while also offering 4x earnings on everyday purchases at U.S. supermarkets and worldwide restaurants.

The Amex Gold Card offers many benefits like generous earnings, travel benefits, and everyday protections in addition to baggage coverage.

American Express® Business Gold Card

Pay for your entire fare with your Amex Gold Card or Amex Business Gold Card and/or Membership Rewards points and receive up to $1,250 in coverage for carry on bags, and $500 for checked baggages for damage or loss due to a covered incident. The coverage amount is the total per person, per trip.

As with the consumer card, the Amex Business Gold Card comes with great benefits including accelerated business earning, customized spend categories, travel benefits, and cash flow benefits — all essential for a business owner.

American Express Baggage Insurance Coverage

What is Covered on American Express Cards?

Travel bags and suitcases, including contents, whether carried-on or checked with a common carrier.

Who is Covered on American Express Cards?

The cardholder, spouse or domestic partner, and dependent children under 23 years of age are covered for Baggage Insurance.

Bottom Line: If you’re a frequent traveler and value luxury travel benefits, the Amex Platinum Card or the Amex Business Platinum Card can offer tremendous value. Both cards come with complimentary worldwide lounge access that if purchased separately could cost more than the card’s annual fee. 

Additional Cards with Baggage Insurance

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Card – provides $100 per day for 5 days reimbursement for incidentals when bags are delayed more than 6 hours plus $3,000 per trip for lost luggage ($2,000 for New York residents).

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Card – pay for your ticket with your Venture Card and receive up to $3,000 ($2,000 for New York residents) if your luggage is lost, damaged, or stolen.

Visa Infinite Cards – pay for your entire fare with your card and receive up to $3,000 ($2,000 for New York residents) for lost, stolen, or damaged luggage.

Filing a Claim

Whether your baggage is lost, damaged, stolen, or delayed, you’ll need to follow certain steps to ensure your claim is processed successfully.

  • Report the loss or damage immediately to the common carrier before leaving the airport, station, etc., and keep a copy of the report
  • In the case your luggage is delayed, report the loss then wait the required number of hours before purchasing incidentals
  • Also in the case of delayed luggage, save the receipts for any items purchased
  • Report the loss to your credit card claims administrator by calling the number on the back of your card and file a written report
  • Submit all requested supporting documentation within the required time period, usually 60-90 days from the date of the incident

Because coverage on your credit card is usually secondary, you will want to obtain documentation from the common carrier as to their policy and the amount of payment you received from them, if any. In the case of lost luggage, you’ll also need receipts for the more valuable contents of your luggage.

Since claims are handled by a third party, not the credit card issuer, you’ll need to provide documentation that your common carrier ticket was purchased with a qualifying credit card.

American Airlines Baggage
There are simple steps you can take to help make sure your bags get to your destination.  Image Credit: American Airlines

Tips for Minimizing Lost Baggage and Expediting a Claim

Avoid short connecting times between flights – really short connections can become impossible connections if there is even a slight delay. Although you may still make your connection, your luggage may not. Since the number one reason bags get lost is due to connections, allow enough time between flights to minimize the possibility.

Double check your destination tags – when checking your bags, be sure the destination printed on the baggage tracking tag is your final destination.

Add additional identification – most of us attach a bag tag to our bags, with our name, phone number, and address on it, to identify our luggage. However, this tag, along with the baggage tracking tag, can be ripped off during transit. It’s prudent to add identifying information to the inside of your luggage as a back up to increase the chances of it being returned to you.

Divide and conquer – years ago, ships that sailed across the ocean would be attacked by pirates. In order to minimize losses, companies divided their cargo among many ships so if one was attacked, the losses were minimized. Do the same with your luggage. If you must check a bag, make sure your carry on has a change of clothes, toiletries, and other necessities for a one night stay versus all of your items inaccessibly packed in your checked bags and subject to loss.

Document your belongings – before you leave on your trip, take photos of your luggage and its contents. Should you need to file a damaged or lost baggage claim, you’ll have documentation to help expedite the process.

Hot Tip: Some airlines have delayed baggage guarantees. If your bags do not arrive within a certain period of time, they’ll compensate you. Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines each have a 20 minute guarantee for your bags to arrive on the carousel. Delta provides 2,500 SkyMiles and Alaska compensates with a $25 voucher off a future flight if your bags do not arrive on time. 

Everything Else You Need to Know

There are usually separate coverage limits for high risk items such as jewelry, sporting equipment, audio/visual equipment, and furs. For example, the terms may state that these items combined (and other luxury items) may not exceed a total of $500 (or other specified amount) in coverage.

Some items can be excluded. These items can include documents or valuable papers, money, securities, tickets, checks/traveler’s checks and some luxury items.

Baggage insurance coverage is secondary to other coverage and, in some cases, the total received by all sources cannot exceed the limits on the credit card coverage. For example, if you receive $3,500 from the airline for your bag and the coverage on your credit card baggage insurance is $1,250, you will not receive an additional payment from the credit card coverage. The Guide to Benefits for your specific card will spell out the exact terms of your coverage.

For baggage coverage that comes on your credit card to be valid, you normally have to pay for your entire ticket with the eligible credit card, points/miles earned on that card, or a combination of the two.

Final Thoughts

While baggage insurance is nice to have, it is secondary to coverage you would receive from the common carrier should your luggage be lost, damaged, stolen, or delayed.

Selecting a card that has an entire package of benefits you will use results in the best value.


FAQ

What is baggage insurance?

Baggage insurance that comes complimentary on your credit card provides compensation if your bag is lost, stolen, damaged, or delayed by the airline during your trip.

Airlines are required by law to provide compensation when they mishandle your bags. However, the baggage insurance that comes on your credit card can provide additional compensation if the amount paid by the airline does not cover your entire loss.

Most credit cards require that the entire ticket be paid for with your eligible card or with rewards earned on that card.

Does baggage insurance cover my carry on bags?

Yes, carry on bags are usually covered with baggage insurance that comes on your credit card. The amount of coverage you receive will vary by card.

You can access the terms and conditions of the baggage insurance on your card by calling the number on the back of the card or accessing your card’s Guide to Benefits.

How much does the airline have to pay me for lost bags?

For domestic flights in the U.S., the current maximum is $3,500 per bag. Internationally, the limit is set by the Montreal Convention and is limited to 1,131 Special Drawing Rights which vary, but currently equal to about $1,600 USD per bag.

These are the limits airlines must pay for either lost, delayed, or damaged bags.

When is my bag considered lost?

Each airline has its own criteria for when a bag is considered lost, usually 14-21 days.

When you arrive at your destination and your bag is not there, however, you should file a claim immediately before leaving the airport.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

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