The Best Credit Cards for Booking Cruises

Best Credit Cards for Booking Cruises


Which Credit Card Should You Use to Book a Luxury Cruise? Many of my cruise clients have the AMEX Platinum or AMEX Centurion card, and are inclined to use one of these cards due to the Cruise Privileges Program benefits, which I'll explain below. But in fact, I typically recommend using the Chase Sapphire Reserve instead.

AMEX Cruise Privileges Program

If you have an AMEX Platinum card, you can book as a TravelSort Client or your luxury travel advisor and enjoy these AMEX Cruise Privileges benefits:

  • $300 shipboard credit per stateroom or suite on Crystal, Regent, Silversea, Seabourn, Ama Waterways, Azamara, Oceania, Uniworld and Windstar cruises
  • $100 shipboard credit for inside and outside staterooms; $200 shipboard credit for balcony, verandah, and mini-suite staterooms; and $300 shipboard credit for suites on Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International
  • Earn 2X on cruise spend (separate airfare and other charges associated with booking are not eligible)

AMEX Centurion cardholders enjoy these additional benefits:

  • Extra $200 shipboard credit (so $500 total shipboard credit per double occupancy stateroom or suite) on cruises with Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, and Silversea.
  • $150 credit towards shore excursions per double occupancy stateroom

The above benefits cannot, however, be combined with Virtuoso benefits or certain cruise promotions.


Why I Recommend Booking Cruises with the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Even for clients who have the AMEX Centurion card, I recommend using the Chase Sapphire Reserve to book the cruise, mainly because the Sapphire Reserve includes travel insurance, in the form of trip cancellation insurance and trip interruption insurance, and the AMEX Platinum and AMEX Centurion cards don't include this coverage.

For a more expensive cruise, travel insurance coverage can easily cost $1000 or more per person. By paying with the Sapphire Reserve, you get trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage of up to $10,000 per covered person, and up to $20,000 per trip. While that may not cover everything for longer or more expensive cruises that cost >$10,000 per person, it's a good amount of coverage for shorter cruises.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve also earns 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, vs. the 2X Membership Rewards points you earn through the AMEX Cruise Privileges program. I value Ultimate Rewards points at ~2 cents per point, so that's an effective 6% return on spend.

Certain cruises are designated Virtuoso Voyages, where you can enjoy a choice of a complimentary shore excursion or a shipboard credit, plus a hosted Virtuoso welcome reception exclusively for Virtuoso guests. While you can pay for such a cruise with any credit card you wish, you can't combine Virtuoso Voyage benefits with AMEX Cruise Privileges, so it's best to use a card such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve where you're earning a nice category bonus of 3X points per dollar.

Which is your favorite credit card to use when booking a cruise?

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