Many of the best travel credit cards in Canada come with a comprehensive travel insurance package. Your travel medical insurance applies even if you book on points, but your additional travel insurance benefits such as lost luggage, trip cancellation, hotel burglary, etc. require you to charge a majority if not all of your charges to your card.

This is fine in most cases, but what happens if you’re redeeming a free flight/hotel/car rental through your points or miles? Does your additional travel insurance still apply?  Unfortunately, in most cases, it doesn’t but there are conditions where your travel insurance would apply if you have one of the following credit cards:

American Express Platinum Credit Card

The American Express Platinum credit card is my personal favourite travel credit card and now that I’ve read the fine print about their insurance when redeeming reward flights, I love this card even more.

If the cardholder is making a redemption via their American Express Membership Rewards Points and charge all the extra expenses such as taxes to their American Platinum card then they would be insured for the following:

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation &Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Flight and Baggage Delay & Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
  • Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance

To be clear, you would have to claim your travel through the American Express Membership Rewards travel portal for your travel insurance to apply.

Oddly enough, according to the American Express insurance handbook, you’d also be covered for the car rental theft and damage insurance under the following condition.

“A Cardmember is covered if they receive a “free rental” as a result of a promotion, where they have had to make previous vehicle rentals if each such previous rental was entirely paid for with the card and the applicable taxes for the “free rental” have been charged to the card.”

This means, as an example, that you would be covered if you use Hertz points to redeem a free car rental if all of your Hertz rentals to accumulate the points were charged on the Amex Platinum card.

BMO World Elite Mastercard

The BMO World Elite MasterCard distinguishes itself for award trip insurance since their coverage requires that the full or partial cost of your ticket has been charged to the account. This means that you would be covered if you redeem for an award flight using your BMO Rewards points or another program if you pay the fees and taxes with the BMO World Elite Mastercard.

This feature makes the BMO World Elite card a very popular card amongst the points and miles enthusiasts.

The BMO World Elite card offers the following insurance:

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption Insurance & Trip Delay
  • Flight and Baggage Delay & Personal Effects
  • Baggage and Personal Effects Loss & Damage Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) & Car Rental Personal Effects Insurance

You can read the full Cardholder Agreement here.

Scotia Passport Visa Infinite Card

The Scotia Passport Visa Infinite card is similar to most cards and requires the full cost to be paid on the card for insurance to cover your trip. There is a minor difference for flight delay, trip cancellation and trip interruption for which 75% of the total cost is required. That means if you’re booking a flight through your Scotia Rewards points, you need to charge and/or redeem at least 75% of the cost of the flight for your travel insurance to apply.

  • Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance
  • Travel Emergency Medical
  • Rental Car Collision/Loss Damage Insurance
  • Lost Luggage, Delayed Luggage and Hotel/Motel Burglary insurance
  • Flight Delay Insurance

You can read all the details in the Scotia Passport Visa Infinite Welcome Kit.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

Finally, there’s the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card, similar to some of the other cards on this list, the following travel insurance applies as long as you charge any extra expenses such as taxes to your TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card. 

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Delayed and Lost Baggage Insurance
  • Flight/Trip Delay Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance

Based on this info, if you’re booking an Aeroplan flight and then you charge the taxes to your TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card, your travel insurance would apply. If you want to read more about the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card’s insurance, check out their user agreement.

RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card

Based on my research (which is simply me reading their policy), the following travel insurance policies would apply to the cardholders redeeming their RBC Rewards points as long as they charge any extra expenses to their RBC Avion Visa Infinite card

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation & Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Emergency Purchases and Flight Delay Insurance
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance

As you can see, the travel insurance included when making a flight redemption is pretty much the same as the American Express Platinum card, RBC just has slightly different names for some of their insurance. The “free rental” provision for the auto rental collision/loss damage insurance also applies to the RBC Avion Visa Infinite card.

RBC WestJet World Elite Mastercard

Similar to the RBC Avion Visa Infinite for which the insurance coverage requires that you pay the full cost of trip and/or use RBC Rewards points, the RBC Westjet World Elite Mastercard insurance will only cover you if you charge the full cost of the trip and/or use Westjet dollars to pay for the trip.

The insurance offered by the card are the following:

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Auto Rental Collision/Loss Damage Insurance
  • Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Emergency Purchases and Flight Delay Insurance
  • Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance

Full details the certificate of insurance.

CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card

The CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite card’s coverage conditions vary for each insurance category which is a bit of a pain, but I’ve covered everything below to make your life easier.

Insurance eligible by being a cardholder:

  • Out of Province/Country Emergency Medical Insurance

Insurance eligible by putting a partial amount of the trip on the card:

  • Trip Interruption/Trip Delay Insurance

Insurance eligible up to the amount charged on the card:

  • Trip Cancellation Insurance

Insurance eligible if Aventura points or 75% of flight full fate was charged on the card:

  • Common Carrier Accident Insurance
  • Flight Delay and baggage insurance

Insurance eligible if Aventura points or full cost was charged on the card:

  • Rental Car Collision/Loss Damage Insurance

You can find the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Certificates of Insurances.

What happens if I don’t have one of those cards?

If you didn’t see your credit card in the above list, you might be panicking. It’s true that your credit card travel insurance wouldn’t apply, but all you need to do is buy a separate travel insurance policy so you’re protected.

I realize that many of you will find this annoying since you’re paying for something you already have, but technically speaking you don’t have travel insurance when making a travel redemption with your card since you haven’t met the conditions for it to come into effect.

Why risk paying thousands of dollars when a travel insurance package is not that expensive? You only need to purchase a policy when you’re making a flight redemption so you won’t be paying out of pocket too often.

Final thoughts

Travel insurance is important when picking a new credit card, but travel insurance included when making a flight redemption on points is less important if you know what I mean. What you should look for is a good signup bonus, earn rate and any additional benefits that appeal to you such as airport lounge access.

How Credit Card Travel Insurance Works When Booking a Flight on Points or Miles

21 Comments

  1. Kelly on June 6, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    Medical travel insurance shouldn’t require your trip to be paid on the credit card. If I drive over the border to shop in the states, there is no expense to put on the card, but you should qualify for travel insurance??? Is this a wrong assumption?

    • Barry Choi on June 6, 2019 at 8:34 pm

      Kelly,

      Travel medical doesn’t require you put your trip on your card but other insurance such as trip cancellation/interruption, flight delay do.

  2. Seh on June 6, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    Not sure if I’m reading this correctly when you say “if you’re redeeming a free flight through your points or miles? Does your travel insurance still apply? Unfortunately, in most cases, it doesn’t”. Yes, likely if there’s a trip cancellation claim, the insurance wouldn’t cover getting the points back, or the equivalent cost of the flight, but if for example you used points for the flight but paid the resort directly with a charge to the credit card, that would still be covered in a trip cancellation claim.

    Even more important (since your first sentence refers to the “cost of medical attention”), I think you’ve left out that if the trip was paid for with points, that should have no effect on the medical portion of the insurance. It’s no different than if you drive or walk across the border into the U.S. and haven’t charged anything on the card except gas to get there, and then have a medical claim, the credit card insurance should still cover it.

    Care to comment on this?

    • Barry Choi on June 6, 2019 at 8:40 pm

      Seh,

      You’re right, travel medical applies regardless. I wrote it wrong and should have clarified that your travel insurance may not apply to other benefits such as trip cancellation when using points.

      I’ve updated the post so it’s more accurate.

  3. Michel Bonin on June 6, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Some travel cards like BMO alllow benefits like Trip Cancellation etc even if only PARTIAL COST has been charged to the card. I assume that it means an amount as small as $20 for example on a trip that cost $700, right? Also, in my case I use two cards, one for the one-way trip, the second card for the one-way return portion of my trip planned between Vancouver and London UK. Plus I use a third one (the BMO one) to get trip cancellation for the dollar portion paid on the two main cards used on my trip to the UK. Little info on the above issues is available on their Agreement documents creating confusion. Finally, your excellent article omits the most important cost for me, extended emergency medical coverage beyond the first 3-days each of the two cards I plan to use to book each of the two one-way portions of my trip. Your comments would be appreciated.

    • Barry Choi on June 6, 2019 at 8:54 pm

      Michael,

      The BMO World Elite MasterCard is the most generous when it comes to redemptions. The language basically reads if you charge any amount to your card, then your additional insurance applies. I’m not quite sure I understand what you mean about emergency medical coverage beyond the first 3-days each of the two cards. Don’t those cards already come with medical insurance?

  4. Michel Bonin on June 6, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    Barry, Extended emergency medical coverage refers to the extra coverage one needs if you travel outside your province of origin with pre-existing medical conditions like for example declared cancer, hearth condition etc. So you need to buy coverage beyond the first three days of a trip your credit card covers. It can be purchased from a third-party insurer. It can cost anywhere between $200 per trip on top of all the costs one must pay with their credit card. If you make several trips within 365 days like me, I have the option to buy a one-time yearly multi-trip package, in my case $598 a year from RBC Insurance Company.

    • Barry Choi on June 7, 2019 at 7:53 am

      Michael,

      TBH, if you have a pre-existing condition, I think it’s safer to stick to an outside policy like you have with RBC already. The reason I say this is that I’m under the assumption that insurance providers are always looking for a way to not pay. Your outside policy would have clearly outlined what you’re covered and probably mentions specifically your condition so you know you’re covered.

  5. Brian on June 7, 2019 at 6:54 am

    Is there any CC that offers medical insurance if your over 65

    • Barry Choi on June 7, 2019 at 7:51 am

      Brian,

      The National Bank World Elite Mastercard gives 15 days for those aged 65 – 74

  6. CC churner on June 8, 2019 at 3:54 am

    Barry,

    When you book flights with your credit card, I wonder if you and your wife book separately so that you each have travel insurance? I imagine that if you booked for the two of you, the travel insurance would only cover you, the cardholder. I am wondering because I am going to book flights for my friends and I realized that they aren’t going to be covered if anything happens.

    • Barry Choi on June 8, 2019 at 7:23 am

      CC Churner,

      If you read the fine print, your spouse and dependent children get covered for also when you book their tickets. However, your friends would not be covered. If they have a credit card with travel medical, they would get that, but the trip interupption lost luggage insurance etc. would not apply.

      • Cc churner on June 9, 2019 at 3:23 am

        So even if they didn’t actually use their credit card to book the trip, they’d still get travel medical insurance?

        • Barry Choi on June 9, 2019 at 7:51 pm

          Cc churner,

          You’re usually covered for travel medical as long as you have the credit card.

  7. Gin on June 8, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Knowing your maximum coverage is also important, e.g. the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite has the following coverage for trip cancellation:
    –Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance
    For Trip Cancellation, up to $1,500 of coverage per insured person, with a maximum of $5,000 for all insured persons, and for Trip Interruption, up to $5,000 of coverage per insured person, with a maximum of $25,000 for all insured persons on the same covered trip.–
    With rising costs, a flight to Europe alone can use up the $1500 pp coverage. We needed to purchase additional insurance to cover a tour we booked.
    If you are booking a cruise, unlikely $1500 pp will cover all costs, in particular if flights are needed as well.

    • Barry Choi on June 9, 2019 at 7:52 pm

      Gin,

      Very good point. The trip cancellation may look of decent value when factoring just the flights, but as you stated, all the other costs can easily go over that limit.

  8. Hopeful on June 14, 2019 at 1:43 am

    Will TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card cover water damage to your passport? ( damage occurred while traveling on a flight booked with the credit card)

    • Barry Choi on June 14, 2019 at 7:42 am

      Hopeful,

      Unfortunately, a damaged passport doesn’t fall under travel insurance so you wouldn’t be covered.

  9. Julie on August 22, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    I would add the Gold and Cobalt cards to this list. While they never offer trip cancellation – they do offer baggage, interruption etc. As long as you pay for the flight in full, and redeem points (at the higher value is 10/1 for travel) against that travel – all insurance remains intact. Full amount IS charged to the card. To be safe, I usually don’t even redeem points for credit against that travel until I’m home from said travel. 🙂
    Another note worth point out, while on the subject – all travel in a single trip should be booked on the same card as the flights for coverage. Example – I flew to Italy, then took trains while in Italy. I used two different cards to pay. I had a problem with the trains and contacted BMO world Elite for coverage and they said since I didn’t book the flights to/from Italy with that card – they wouldn’t cover the train while in Italy.

  10. Amy on December 10, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    I am interested in National Bank World Elite MasterCard since it has 60 day coverage. The policy states that “4. This coverage applies to purchases and rentals charged in part to the card, except out-of-province medical/hospital insurance for which the travel arrangements need not be charged to the card, and lost or delayed luggage insurance where all transportation costs must be charged to the card.”

    Does this mean my flight and cruise doesn’t need to be charged on the card for out-of-province medical/hospital insurance?

    • Barry Choi on December 10, 2019 at 8:21 pm

      Hi Amy,

      Correct, your travel medical applies regardless but with your other travel insurance e.g. trip cancellation or lost luggage, you’d have to charge part of the costs to your card for the insurance to apply.

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