Vacations should be a time for fun and relaxation, but as many frequent travelers know, that isn't always the case. At times when trips don't go as planned, credit card companies have stepped up to alleviate some of the financial stress that comes as a result.
For Anthony, MyBankTracker's marketing director, his Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card turned out to be a great ally during a recent ski trip in Utah when his return flight was delayed overnight due to a snowstorm.
One of the many travel perks of the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the trip delay reimbursement coverage, which he was able to take advantage of with great success. It covered many of the expenses that Anthony paid for after learning his flight was delayed.
However, the claims process was arduous and filled with constant back-and-forth communication. It is not a common task that credit card users deal with, so his experience reveals the good and bad sides of using a card's travel benefits.
The rules of the perk
Anthony paid for his trip using his Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and as a rule, cardholders must do the same in order to reap the benefits of this perk. The trip delay reimbursement benefit of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card covers up to a maximum of $500 when a trip is delayed by more than 12 hours.
Chase says that the benefit will cover "reasonable" expenses that include, but not limited to meals, lodging, toiletries, medications and other personal use items that were also charged on the Sapphire Preferred card.
Getting the paperwork together
Knowing that he has the trip-delay reimbursement at his disposal, Anthony made a note to keep receipts for all expenditures during the delay. In total, he spent $450 for his hotel stay, cab rides, meals and bar tab.
Upon return from the trip, he immediately called to file a claim, which is actually handled by Visa. Soon after providing a brief description of his case, he received an emailed claim form to fill out (which he received while still on the phone with Visa).
Then, he called US Airways for a statement explaining the cause of the trip delay -- a two-sentence email was sent to him that same day. This is required to file a claim.
In an manilla envelope, he mailed:
- Copies of receipts for claimed expenses
- A copy of his US Airways ticket
- The printed statement via email from US Airways
- The claim forms
He was later told that itemized receipts were required for some of the expenses. A Chase representative was able to help him retrieve those receipts, but it took about two weeks.
The total requested reimbursement was $450. He was approved for $380.
The remaining $70 was denied because it was spent on alcohol and gratuity, which was probably extracted from the itemized receipts from restaurants and bars.
His claim was paid, in the form of a check, roughly six weeks after all documentation was sent in.
Chase steps up
Anthony did not relent on the $70 in claims that Visa rejected, so he called Chase about the situation, with the hopes that they would make him whole. And, it turns out that a two-minute phone call to Chase yielded a positive outcome.
With nearly no resistance, the Chase representative agreed to reimburse Anthony with 7,000 Ultimate Rewards points -- the equivalent of $70 if he opted to redeemed the points in the form of cash back.
Since Chase made good on the denied reimbursements, Anthony eventually got the full amount that he asked for in the first place. (The points could actually be worth more since Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders get to redeem their points for travel with 20% fewer Ultimate Rewards points -- there are other ways to get more from Chase's rewards program.)
Most people would have been happy with whatever amount they could get back. This story is another example that it doesn't hurt to ask.
To give another idea of how long the process took:
- Getting the claim form: Immediately during the call
- Getting the claim approved: 6 weeks after mailing in forms and documentation
- Getting the reimbursement check: 5 days after claim approval
- Getting the 7,000 Ultimate Rewards points: Immediately after the call
Forgoing US Airways' flight delay policy
You may ask why Anthony didn't go to US Airways to cover the costs incurred during the flight delay.
For delays that are beyond the control of US Airways, such as bad weather, the airline will not provide hotel accommodations. Instead, passengers are offered a lower rate at a list of nearby partnered hotels and motels.
The policies are similar for other major airlines. For instance, United Airlines will offer food, beverage, snacks, meal vouchers and a distressed passenger rate voucher for a nearby hotel if a passenger's trip is delayed due to uncontrollable events.
Clearly, the trip delay reimbursement benefit of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card covers a larger scope of expenses.
Yes, credit cards get a ton of bad press for being the gateways to insurmountable debt. But, for someone like Anthony, who makes a note to always pay off his balance in full, credit card benefits like trip delay reimbursement turn out to be extremely handy. (Most credit cards out there don't offer such a perk.)
If you've also tried to take advantage of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card's trip delay reimbursement feature, please share your experience too!
@SimonZhen is an analyst, staff writer and columnist for MyBankTracker.com. His columns draw focus to all aspects of personal finance and to bank rates, products, and services.