It’s one thing to know that your credit card offers insurance for travel mishaps like delayed baggage or airlines that suddenly shut down. It’s another thing to know how to access those benefits when you’re on the road.
When I spoke with Brandon Neth of FinanceBuzz recently, the frequent traveller gave me a piece of advice that I wasn’t expecting: If you need to file a travel insurance claim with your credit card issuer, don’t wait until you get home. Delaying your claim could cause you to miss out on those benefits your annual fee is going toward.
Here’s what to know before that stressful moment when you need to make a claim.
Start the process early
You may want to get past your travel hiccup ASAP and get on with the fun. But Neth warned that some cards have a short window in which you can file a claim after an incident.
Your benefits guide will have a phone number and probably also a collect number you can use if you’re outside your home country, so push past your phone anxiety and make the call as soon as you have a chance.
“Keep your receipts,” Neth advised. “Any time you make an insurance claim, it’s never easy.”
Why? Because each credit card has its own rules for making travel insurance claims. Before you leave for a trip, take a quick spin through the benefits book for the card you booked your travel on, and then take that information with you. Some of us have learned this the hard way.
If you experience major headaches on your trip, you’ll want to know exactly what you need to get compensated. And if you’re not sure whether you should hold onto a receipt or document from your trip, err on the side of caution and keep it until you get home.
For example, I checked the Chase Sapphire Reserve booklet for making a claim for delayed baggage. When you call to get the claim rolling, you’ll get sent a claim form, which you must fill out and submit along with a copy of the travel itinerary, a copy of the credit card statement that shows the charge for your airfare, and written confirmation from the airline that there was a baggage delay.
Keep using that credit card
“If you can, put everything related to that claim on the credit card” you’re going to file the claim with, said Neth. For example, if you bought your plane ticket with a Chase Sapphire card and want to file a baggage delay claim, you should buy the clothes you need in the meantime on that Chase card.
Doing this is especially helpful if you’re in a foreign country. Cards with travel benefits typically don’t have foreign transaction fees (although your mileage may vary, so check your terms).
In a stressful moment you might think reaching for cash is easiest, but doing everything on that same card will help keep you organised and save you a currency exchange hassle.