One thing that can throw a wrench in your travel plans quickly (and frustratingly) is a bad storm. On the one hand, you want your travel to be safe. But on the other hand, you really want to get to your destination and hate being stuck in an airport any longer than you have to be.
Oftentimes, there’s not much you can do as a weary delayed traveler besides mentally prepare yourself for a long travel day. Then whip out your credit card to lessen the blows whenever possible.
Though your credit card can’t exactly rescue you from stormy weather, it can offer some help. Read on to learn some credit card tips you can utilize if your flight is delayed due to bad weather.
But first: Book the right flights from the get-go
In general, to increase your odds of making it to your destination as planned, get yourself a ticket for an early morning flight whenever possible. That way, you have more flight options if yours gets delayed.
Pay attention to local weather patterns for relevant airports. For example, afternoon thunderstorms are common in mountainous areas like Denver, and the morning fog surrounding San Francisco’s airport has been a longtime culprit in travel interruptions.
Book direct flights rather than options with layovers to decrease the chances of inclement weather affecting your plans.
Check if your credit card has trip delay insurance
Hopefully, you purchased your airline ticket with a credit card that offers trip delay insurance.
Trip delay insurance generally covers your expenses if your trip is delayed for more than a specific number of hours due to weather conditions. Check your policy for details; many credit cards with this coverage will reimburse meals and accommodation expenses during your delay.
Nerd tip: Always read your policy documents to understand what “delay” criteria qualify for coverage, and what types of reimbursement are actually covered.
» Learn more: What you need to know about Chase’s trip delay insurance
Maximize your spending cap carefully
To get the most out of a stormy delay, be aware of just how much money a card company is willing to reimburse you. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s trip delay coverage reimburses up to $500 for each purchased ticket. Meanwhile, The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders receive up to $1,000 in flight delay coverage. Terms apply.
While burning through free money can feel like you’re living large, be mindful so you don’t accidentally overspend. For instance, if you’re stuck abroad and the next flight out isn’t for a few days, you might burn through your spending cap pretty quickly.
Know if your family is covered too
Certain credit cards will extend their trip reimbursement coverage to not only the cardholders, but also to their families. We love the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s trip delay reimbursement for this perk: Your spouse or partner and any dependent children ages 22 and under are all entitled to $500 in reimbursement per ticket, per trip.
You might not need to charge expenses to the same credit card
If you pay close attention to the fine print of your trip delay insurance policy, you might find that you aren’t required to use the same credit card you used for booking to cover expenses incurred during a trip delay. You’ll submit receipts for reimbursement, but they don’t necessarily have to be charged to the card you’re claiming coverage on.
To that end, feel free to leverage your points accrual on other credit cards if it makes sense. Use your Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card to earn 4% cash back on dining. And if you’re stuck with an overnight, book it with the World of Hyatt Credit Card to get closer to earning a free night.
Make the delay work for you and your points strategies by being smart with which credit cards you use for different purchases during the storm.
The bottom line
Weathering the storm is never fun, but by purchasing smart flights with the right credit card, you can be all set to enjoy your upcoming delay reimbursement and make the most of a rainy, snowy or otherwise delayed travel day. If you don't have a credit card that offers built in travel insurance protections, you might consider purchasing a comprehensive standalone policy prior to your trip.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card