AMEX to Add Travel Insurance, Cut Roadside Assistance, Return Protection

AMEX to Add Travel Insurance, Cut Roadside Assistance, Return Protection

AMEX Will Add Travel Insurance for Select Cards, while cutting Roadside Assistance for all cards, eliminating Return Protection for most cards, and reducing Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty benefits, per Dan. The changes will take effect January 1, 2020, so there are still over 3 months until it's possible to get trip cancellation and trip interruption protection with an AMEX card, and likewise you have 3 months to utilize the roadside assistance and existing return protection, purchase protection and extended warranty benefits for your AMEX card.

Here's what's changing, by group of AMEX cards:

Premium AMEX Cards

Cards (Annual Fee)

  • AMEX Platinum ($550)
  • AMEX Business Platinum ($595)
  • Delta Reserve ($450)
  • Delta Reserve Business ($450)
  • Hilton Aspire ($450)
  • Marriott Brilliant ($450)

Pros: New Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance as of 1/1/20

AMEX has perhaps finally gotten the message that many of its clients who have both an AMEX Platinum and a Chase Sapphire Reserve have moved much of their airfare, cruise and hotel spend to the Sapphire Reserve, thanks to the CSR's trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, which even AMEX's premium cards have lacked.

As of 1/1/20, the above AMEX cards will provide:

  • Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance for a covered event that prevents travel: severe weather, terrorism, jury duty, sudden illness or injury
  • Up to $10,000 per trip and up to $20,000 per rolling 12 month period
  • Note that the benefits only apply to roundtrip or multi-segment flight tickets (not one way), award tickets where the AMEX card is used for the taxes/fees, or tickets paid for with AMEX Membership Rewards points (terrible value–don't do it)
  • Trip delay insurance: $500 coverage on 6+ hour delays

The above are new benefits. These premium cards will also keep these existing benefits (some lower tier AMEX cards will see these removed):

  • Return Protection
  • Baggage Insurance

Cons: Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty Reduced

Note that as of 1/1/20, even premium AMEX cards such as the above will see these reductions:

  • Purchase Protection reduced from 120 days to 90 days
  • Extended Warranty reduced from 2 years to 1 year

Mid-Tier AMEX Cards

Cards (Annual Fee)

  • AMEX Gold ($250)
  • AMEX Business Gold ($295)
  • AMEX Green ($95)
  • Delta Platinum ($195)
  • Delta Platinum Business ($195)

Pros: $300 Trip Delay Coverage for 12+ Hour Delays

These mid-tier cards do NOT qualify for the new trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance benefits that premium cards such as the AMEX Platinum are getting, but they do get a new $300 trip delay benefit for 12+ hour delays. It's something, I supposed, although not much.

These cards also retain their existing baggage insurance benefit.

Cons: Return Protection Eliminated, Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty Reduced as of 1/1/20

  • Return Protection eliminated
  • Purchase Protection reduced from 120 days to 90 days
  • Extended Warranty reduced from 2 years to 1 year

Low-Tier AMEX Cards

These lower tier cards don't add any trip insurance or trip delay benefits, they only lose existing benefits.

Cards (Annual Fee)

  • Delta Gold (fee waived first year, then $95)
  • Delta Gold Business (fee waived first year, then $95)
  • AMEX Business Green ($95)
  • Marriott Business ($125)
  • Plum (fee waived first year, then $250)
  • Hilton Surpass ($95)
  • Hilton Business ($95)
  • Blue Cash Preferred ($95)
  • Everyday Preferred ($95)
  • Hilton AMEX (No fee)
  • Delta Blue (No fee)
  • Blue (No fee)
  • Everyday (No fee)
  • Blue Business Plus (No fee)
  • Blue Cash Everyday (No fee)
  • Blue Business Cash (No fee)

Cons: Return Protection Eliminated, Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty Reduced as of 1/1/20

  • Return Protection eliminated (Exceptions: Blue Cash Preferred, Everyday Preferred, Business Plum cards retain Return Protection benefit)
  • Purchase Protection reduced from 120 days to 90 days
  • Extended Warranty reduced from 2 years to 1 year (Exceptions: Blue, Everyday, Blue Cash Everyday lose Extended Warranty protection entirely)

Additionally, the Plum Business, Blue Business Plus and Blue Business Cash cards also lose Baggage Insurance protection as of 1/1/20.

The Verdict

While it's great to see AMEX finally add trip cancellation and trip interruption protection to its premium cards, it's not enough to convince me to go back to ever paying an annual fee for an AMEX card. The vast majority of my household's spend is on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, for a few reasons:

  • 3X points on all travel and dining, which are some of our biggest discretionary spend categories
  • Trip Cancellation and Trip Insurance benefits apply to ALL airfare, not just roundtrip tickets
  • Higher Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption limits, since it covers $10,000 per covered person, up to $20,000 per trip and up to $40,000 per 12 months, vs. AMEX's up to $10,000 per trip and up to $20,000 per 12 months
  • Lower effective annual fee of just $150, since the card's annual fee is $450 (vs. $550 for the AMEX Platinum) and there's a $300 annual travel credit that can be used towards ANY travel. AMEX requires you to specify one airline, and it's much harder to make use of the credit, since it's for airline incidental fees.

What do you make of the addition of AMEX trip insurance and trip delay benefits for some cards, and the reduction of return protection, extended warranty and purchase protection benefits?

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