Credit Card that Covers Flight Delay on Award Tickets?

The BMO World Elite Mastercard is having an increased welcome offer for new applicants – up to 35,000 points, a waived annual fee, and a $100 statement credit. This runs until February 28, and is the highest offer available currently. I plan to apply in the near future, so was looking through their cardholder agreements when I noticed something that would potentially be very valuable.

typical flight delay benefits

Some of the insurance benefits available are different than other credit cards in Canada – in particular with flight delays. This may cover you if your flight is delayed or cancelled, and was very helpful when I needed it. Last year, I had a flight misconnect, and my credit card insurance covered accommodations, meals, and transport during my delay. I’ve even heard of folks getting headphones and tablets reimbursed.

The credit card with the highest amount of coverage for flight delays are the American Express Platinum Card and Business Platinum Card. You get up to $1,000 for qualifying delays of 4 hours or more. However, the protection requires the entire cost of the ticket to be charged to the card. On the Platinum Card, the insurance certificate defines full fare as

100% of the airline ticket price, including taxes, was charged to the card.

The wording is vague when it comes to covering award tickets. AMEX does include

airline tickets obtained through the redemption of points from the card reward program when applicable taxes have been charged to the card.

but again, this is unclear whether transfers to frequent flyer programs like Aeroplan and Avios are included. Online reports aren’t clear on whether these scenarios are eligible, and I suspect it comes down to the examiner evaluating your claims. This requirement is similar with most other credit cards.

Other credit card policies have similar language. For example, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite requires:

at least 75% of the full cost of the delayed flight was charged to Your Account and/or paid with Scotia Rewards® points;

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite defines covered trips as:

COVERED TRIP means travel on a Common Carrier, the fare for which is fully charged to Your Account, or obtained either in full or partially using your Aeroplan Miles.

Flight Delay Coverage on Award Tickets

A card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (only available to those with a US credit history) covers award tickets. Their coverage runs up to $500 after a delay of twelve hours, but what’s different is the wording In their insurance certificate:

To be eligible for this coverage, you need to purchase either a portion or the entire cost of your Common Carrier fare using your Account.

There are multiple online reports documenting claim approvals with awards. The BMO World Elite Mastercard has similar terms, where flight delay insurance on the card kicks in with a delay of at least six hours and $500 limit.

Coverage applies only when You charge the full or partial cost of Your Trip to the Primary or Family Cardholder’s Mastercard prior to departure.

Don’t hold me to this – I’m not a lawyer – but this seems that award tickets are covered as long as you charge the taxes and fees to your card.  The Trip Cancellation and Interruption benefit also applies the full or partial cost phrasing, but I (thankfully) have never used those benefits before. 

You can access the entire cardholder agreement and benefit coverages here for the BMO Mastercard. This should be another reason to pick up the BMO World Elite Mastercard if you haven’t already. After the first year, you could open the BMO Premium Plan Checking account to keep this card free permanently, as it includes an annual fee waiver for this card.

Comments

  1. I have spoken to BMO World Elite Mastercard before about insurance coverage and they also provided me the impression that their interpretation of charging “the full or partial cost of Your Trip to the Primary or Family Cardholder’s Mastercard prior to departure” was quite liberal. As per the agent that I spoke to, charging seat selection fees to the credit card would cover you for insurance purposes, even if the cost of the airfare was paid for using other means.

  2. Aeroplan rewards tickets are covered by TD Aeroplan suite of cards, so that is another option:

    Underwritten by TD Home and Auto Insurance Company. To be eligible for this coverage, your trip must be paid for in full using your TD Credit Card and/or associated Aeroplan Miles.

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