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A major storm is about the wreak havoc on travel in the US — if you have these credit cards, you'll be covered

airport delay travelAs the season’s first major storm bears down, there’s a potential for significant disruptions to travel. If you can’t change your travel plans and you’re delayed or canceled, airlines aren’t responsible for reimbursing your expenses like food, clothing, toiletries, or hotels. Fortunately, some credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer trip delay protections for travel purchased with that card.

The first major storm of the winter is heading our way. As a “cold-weather bomb” gets ready to burst over the East Coast, bringing brutal cold and potentially heavy snow, travel later this week and this weekend is expected to be significantly impacted.

Airlines are offering travel waivers to passengers flying on specific routes and dates, but if you aren’t covered by the waivers, or if you don’t have the flexibility to change your travel plans, you might end up delayed by heavy winds and plane de-icing, or even temporarily stranded if your flight is canceled. While airlines will reaccommodate you on a later flight in both cases, you’ll be on the hook for food, toiletries, changes of clothes, and a hotel room if you end up in that situation.

Fortunately, you may still be in luck. If you carry a credit card which includes trip delay coverage, and you used that card to pay for at least part of your airfare, you can be entitled to up to $500 of coverage for incidental expenses because of a delayed or canceled flight. While several cards include the benefit, two of the most popular are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and its sibling, the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Both cards offer the same benefit of up to $500 per person whose ticket was purchased with the card. The coverage kicks in when a delay forces an overnight stay, or when the delay lasts a certain amount of time — 12 hours in the case of the Preferred, six hours in the case of the Reserve.

Additionally, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2x points on all travel and dining, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 3x points on the same categories.

I always use my Chase card when booking travel in case of delays (and for the points), and I needed to place a claim this past summer after I was delayed by severe storms. Within about eight weeks of placing the claim, I received reimbursement for lunch, a cell phone charger, a backup phone battery, and even a pair of headphones that I needed so that I could do some multimedia work from my laptop in the terminal. If the delay had lasted a little longer and I had been stuck overnight, I would have been covered for dinner and a hotel room as well.

If you’re traveling this week and are affected by the winter storm, double-check which credit card you used to book the ticket because you may be entitled to the same coverage. If you don’t have that protection, consider opening a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card.