Credit Cards with Medical Evacuation Insurance

In my post on the Chase Ritz-Carlton card relaunch, reader plane2port asked about the card’s medical evacuation insurance coverage and if there are any alternative cards in the US market. I wound my way through conflicting information online and waded through official card Terms & Conditions.

My research should not replace your research. If you intend to rely on any coverage, read your card’s coverage in detail. Multiple times. Know all the ins and outs.

Evacuation ≠ Repatriation. This is critical. Evacuation means transport to the hospital deemed appropriate by the benefit administrator. This may very well not involve transport to your home country for treatment. If you want guarantee of return to home country for treatment then you need Repatriation Insurance and I am not aware of any US credit card that provides such coverage.

Evacuation ≠ Medical Insurance. This is not a medical insurance policy for treatment at home or abroad. I am not aware of any US credit card that provides such coverage.

The coverage may not be enough. If there is a coverage cap and you need a private jet evacuation to your home country you may far exceed the limit and be on the hook for the rest.

Pre-existing conditions may be excluded. This gives broad leeway to deny your claim. If you have notable pre-existing conditions you may want to seek coverage that does not exclude them.

Adventure sports may be excluded. Get specific coverage.

Countries may be excluded. Check your map.

You may have to pay for the original trip with the credit card. Or not.

If you can’t follow instructions, you won’t be covered. Every policy is strict that only expenses pre-approved by and in accord with their policy will be covered.

Citi Prestige Medical Evacuation

The Cards with Medical Evacuation Insurance:

American Express Platinum card (personal version, excluding old Platinum Optima card):

  • No coverage limit
  • No requirement to pay for trip with card
  • Trips of 90 days or less, and must be in excess of 100 miles from U.S. card billing address
  • Covers cardmember or cardmember spouse or domestic partner, dependent up to age 23, or age 26 if full-time student traveling on the same trip itinerary
  • Excludes pre-existing conditions defined as “any sickness, illness, or injury that has manifested itself, become acute, or was being treated in the 60 day period immediately prior to the start of a trip”
  • No adventure sport exclusion
  • No country exclusion
  • Authorized users are covered
  • See Premium Global Assist terms here for full coverage, terms and exclusions (disclaimer: from time to time Amex may issue new Premium Global Assist terms which may have different coverage or terms), and here is the general page for other cards with different forms of Premium Global Assist
  • Business version has similar terms and does not require the trip to be for business, see terms here

Important: non-Platinum Amex cards have a medical evacuation coordination benefit where the card member pays all costs, beware! See more here.

Chase Sapphire Reserve:

  • $100,000 coverage limit
  • Must pay for all or portion of trip with the card for transport on a Common Carrier (award ticket fees thus will count)
  • Trips of during 5-60 days, and must be in excess of 100 miles from your residence
  • Covers cardmember and immediate family on trips paid all or trip with the card (does not require cardmember to be on trip)
  • No pre-existing condition exclusion
  • Excludes adventure sports, “skydiving, scuba, skin, or deep sea diving; hang gliding; parachuting; rock climbing; and contests of speed”
  • Excludes “Care received in Afghanistan, Burma, El Salvador, Iran, Iraq, Kampuchea, Laos, Lebanon, Nicaragua, North Korea, Yemen, Vietnam, and any other countries which may be determined by the U.S. Government from time to time to be unsafe for travel.” The Kampuchea reference may mean Cambodia is excluded, and some of these are now mainstream destinations. This wording is hard to parse if that means Evacuation from these countries will also be excluded or just Care. I would get a written statement of coverage if expected to rely on this in these countries.
  • Authorized users are covered
  • See Guide to Benefits here for full coverage, terms and exclusions (disclaimer: from time to time Chase may issue new Guide to Benefits which may have different coverage or terms)

Chase United Club Card:

  • No coverage limit
  • Must pay for all or portion of trip with the card for transport on a Common Carrier (award ticket fees thus will count)
  • Trips of during 5-60 days, and must be in excess of 100 miles from your residence
  • Covers cardmember and immediate family on trips paid all or trip with the card (does not require cardmember to be on trip)
  • No pre-existing condition exclusion
  • Excludes adventure sports, “skydiving, scuba, skin, or deep sea diving; hang gliding; parachuting; rock climbing; and contests of speed”
  • Excludes “Care received in Afghanistan, Burma, El Salvador, Iran, Iraq, Kampuchea, Laos, Lebanon, Nicaragua, North Korea, Yemen, Vietnam, and any other countries which may be determined by the U.S. Government from time to time to be unsafe for travel.” The Kampuchea reference may mean Cambodia is excluded, and some of these are now mainstream destinations. This wording is hard to parse if that means Evacuation from these countries will also be excluded or just Care. I would get a written statement of coverage if expected to rely on this in these countries.
  • Authorized users are covered
  • See Guide to Benefits here for full coverage, terms and exclusions (disclaimer: from time to time Chase may issue new Guide to Benefits which may have different coverage or terms)

Chase Ritz-Carlton Card:

  • $100,000 coverage limit
  • Must pay for all or portion of trip with the card for transport on a Common Carrier (award ticket fees thus will count)
  • Trips of during 5-60 days, and must be in excess of 100 miles from your residence
  • Covers cardmember and immediate family on trips paid all or trip with the card (does not require cardmember to be on trip)
  • No pre-existing condition exclusion
  • Excludes adventure sports, “skydiving, scuba, skin, or deep sea diving; hang gliding; parachuting; rock climbing; and contests of speed”
  • Excludes “Care received in Afghanistan, Burma, El Salvador, Iran, Iraq, Kampuchea, Laos, Lebanon, Nicaragua, North Korea, Yemen, Vietnam, and any other countries which may be determined by the U.S. Government from time to time to be unsafe for travel.” The Kampuchea reference may mean Cambodia is excluded, and some of these are now mainstream destinations. This wording is hard to parse if that means Evacuation from these countries will also be excluded or just Care. I would get a written statement of coverage if expected to rely on this in these countries.
  • Authorized users are covered
  • See Guide to Benefits here for full coverage, terms and exclusions (disclaimer: from time to time Chase may issue new Guide to Benefits which may have different coverage or terms)

Citi Prestige:

  • $100,000 coverage limit
  • Must pay for all or portion of trip with the card or Citi ThankYou points, trip defined as ” any pre-paid travel, tour or vacation when all or at least a portion of the cost of such arrangements was paid using your Citi card and/or ThankYou® Points for all Covered Traveler(s).”
  • Trips less than 60 days, and must be at least 75 miles from origination
  • Covers cardmember and spouse or domestic partners and dependents traveling with cardmember
  • No pre-existing condition exclusion
  • No adventure sport exclusion
  • No country exclusion
  • Authorized users are covered
  • See Guide to Benefits here for full coverage, terms and exclusions (disclaimer: from time to time Citi may issue new Guide to Benefits which may have different coverage or terms)

My take:

Amex Platinum coverage as written is the most comprehensive with fewest exclusions, including importantly, only to be a cardmember rather than pay for the specific trip with the card. The big limitation is the pre-existing conditions exlcusion.

Since I use Citi Prestige to book my airfare, and it does not exclude pre-existing conditions, that makes a good combo.

I maintain a comprehensive travel medical and evacuation policy called GeoBlue Trekker Choice for myself and wife (note: not available in Texas). I take Amex as a nice backup.

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  • tpmgpeds

    Nice summary. I’m a physician and take a keen interest in this benefit. As you say, the main point is that *you* have the option of being evacuated to the hospital of your choice, even if back to the US. AX Plat doesn’t guarantee that in their T&C’s (they could strand you in a hospital overseas) but Citi Prestige does. Like you, I specifically use the Prestige b/c of that. Considering what you’d pay for a MedJet Assist policy, that benefit alone takes the sting out of the $450 annual fee.

  • Yolaviajera

    Excellent information! I’ve the Business version of the Amex Platinum for almost a year and never even knew there was medical evacuation coverage. I clicked on the link you provided and will be reading the small print. Thanks for sharing such valuable info!

  • @Yolaviajera – business version coverage may be different, log in to your Amex account, look for this benefit and review the terms for your specific card.

  • EnjoyFineFood

    fyi, not necessary to publish:

    link in for Citi actually goes to Chase United. Probably a cut & paste oversight.

  • @EnjoyFineFood – I appreciate the catch and have updated.

  • Levy Flight

    Thanks for raising this. I have amex plat but had not noticed this cover. As someone who travels to places where injuries can happen in remote or underserved locations I am interested in medicac cover. Talking with Amex Global Assist it seems like you have to make it to some form of medical practitioner first before they will decide on whether to move you. This I am waiting to confirm. Also they do not cover medical costs at any facility only the transport between is covered. Still very helpful to know this cover exists. i will put the details in my energency documents.

  • john

    Stefan, great post!!! I do not pay enough attention to all the details/benefits of my credit cards outside of the miles. I am glad I have a blog like yours to read that DOES pay attention so I can learn. I am rethinking dumping the Citi Prestige card. Now that I know about this travel benefit
    With your GeoBlue personal policy is that a yearly policy you have or per trip?.

  • ES

    Great and very informative post. Timely as we are planning a trip and I have been considering the issue of med evac. At the moment for a personal situation this time we need a policy with “cancel for any reason” coverage but going forward this type of policy may make sense combined with the benefits available from a CC and our primary med insurance. Thanks.

  • J Garon

    Great post … Just a note: GeoBlue is not available in New Hampshire either.

  • @J Garon – hmmm, first I heard any issue other than Texas, I will need to hunt around for a substitute I can recommend.

  • I’ve really missed that you don’t even have to pay for the trip with AMEX Plat, not even partially. This is really something. Thanks for the roundup. .

  • @Andy Shuman – it is an outlier in that other of Amex protections now lag competitors, perhaps since Amex is in the business of selling travel insurance they have not wanted to cannibalize.

  • Elaine

    Revisiting this post again as I consider the options and was curious how the Chase Sapphire Reserve stacks up. It look pretty good, providing “emergency evacuation and transportation if you are injured or become ill during your trip and it results in a necessary emergency evacuation.” Coverage is up to $100K and includes souse, domestic partner and dependent kids. Haven’t compared it point by point with the other cards but this coverage provides one more reason I may keep the CSRes beyond year one. Have you considered how/if it might change your analysis of best cards for this coverage? Thanks and happy holidays!

  • Elaine, I just looked at the CSR guide to benefit and it matches the other two Chase cards, so is a solid option. Now that I have updated the post, will Chase approve me?

  • Elaine

    Here’s hoping! I’m hoping my husband will be pre-approved so we can get one for him too. Thanks for checking and happy holidays!!

  • Elaine

    PS – I did also look at the GeoBlue website and may get that as well. Thanks again.