A few months back, I was heading to Orlando for a conference and against my better judgement, I decided to fly United out of the Baton Rouge Regional Airport instead of making my usual hour drive to New Orleans International. This particular flight required me to change planes in Houston at IAH and I thought an hour and a half should be plenty of time to make the connection. Sure, the security lines were shorter and the overall tone of BTR was much more relaxed, but I didn’t consider what could happen if my 6:00pm flight were to be delayed.

Sure enough, my flight was delayed by two hours due to mechanical issues and since Baton Rouge is such a small airport and it was already 8:00pm, there was no where to go. Eventually, we got on our way and landed at IAH around 9:00pm, 30 minutes after my flight to Orlando had left. United Customer Service didn’t seem to be very sympathetic to the fact that I had three job interviews at this conference the next morning and offered me a voucher for the motel across the street.  Now I’ve stayed at my fair share of old motels, but this place took the cake. After seeing the room, I immediately called the Chase Sapphire Preferred customer service phone number on the back of my card to see if they could help.


Photo courtesy of Chase.com

My hesitation in calling was that this was a one way award ticket of which I only paid $12 in tax for on my Sapphire. I also purchased a one way ticket back to New Orleans on Southwest from Orlando on the card. Based on my prior understanding, the ticket had to be a round trip fare fully paid for on the Sapphire in order to receive protection. After being transferred to a benefits representative, I was told that my fare qualified, even though it was two seperate tickets, because I paid for them both on my Sapphire Preferred and that I would be reimbursed for up to $500 for any expenses incurred.

Like a good Texan, I went to Whataburger and spent $22 on a meal (yes it’s possible), then went to the Marriott connected to the IAH terminal and got a suite for the evening. The total damage (including my bacon filled guacamole burger and some room service) was $472. I kept my receipts, obtained a letter from United stating that my flight was delayed forcing an overnight layover, submitted the documentation to Chase and received a check for $472 in the mail about 10 days later. This experience almost made up for missing three interviews.

Photo courtesy of Marriott IAH

Photo courtesy of Marriott IAH

It’s worth noting that not all credit card trip insurance benefits are created equal. My American Express Platinum Card, (You know, the one with the $450 fee?) wouldn’t have covered this because they require the entire cost of the round trip ticket to be put on the card. This means, if you only pay the tax on a round trip award ticket with any Amex, you’re not covered. Chase on the other hand only requires that a portion of the ticket be paid for with their card.

Another interesting fact is that Chase will also cover similar expenses on road trips. Take this example: I live in Denver, and I decided to go up to the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek about two hours from my house for a weekend getaway in the mountains. The day before I left, a bad winter storm covered the roads with 3 feet of snow and I was concerned that I would be charged for the room if I couldn’t make it because the window to cancel had already passed. Thankfully, I used my Chase Ink Bold to reserve the room and Chase would have reimbursed me had I not been able to make it. When I asked, American Express said that they do not cover road trips. I must qualify, if your car breaks down in Terlingua, Texas and you’re forced to spend the night while the one mechanic in town fixes your radiator, Chase will not pay for it.

Bottom Line

Chase offers very generous travel protection benefits, but most people don’t even know that they have these benefits built right into their cards. Next time you’re booking an award flight, do yourself a favor and use your Sapphire Preferred or your Ink.

If you don’t have a Sapphire, here is my personal link you can use to apply. Thanks for your support.