This article was updated on June 25, 2018.

One of the most overlooked benefits of credit cards is delayed baggage insurance. If you travel a lot and check your bags, you'll eventually experience a delayed bag. And sometimes you'll wait hours as the airline sorts things out. Over 800,000 airline passengers filed a claim for mishandled baggage in the first six months of 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

If you don't know about the baggage insurance that comes with your credit card, you could find yourself paying to replace things like a phone charger or a change of clothes. You can avoid this by taking advantage of the insurance coverage your credit card provides. Here's everything you need to know about credit card baggage insurance.

A man waiting for his bags at the airport.

Image source: Getty Images

The best credit cards for baggage delay insurance

While each credit card has its own policy, there are some common ground rules to know before filing a claim.

  • You must pay for the flight with the credit card you're planning on filing a claim with. Just because you have the card in your wallet doesn't mean you're covered by the baggage delay policy.
  • Not everything is covered. Expensive and hard-to-replace toiletries such as contact lenses and dentures are rarely covered. (Tip: bring them in your carry-on.) Cell phones aren't usually covered, either. Be sure to read the policy on your card to make sure an item is eligible before you pack it in your checked bag. Also, the credit card company will only reimburse reasonable expenses.
  • As with all insurance claims, you need documentation of your baggage delay and the costs you incurred. You must file a report with the airline about your baggage before you leave the airport. Keep those records and any pertinent receipts.

With that in mind, some credit cards may provide better insurance for you than others.

Premium Citi credit cards

The Citi Prestige® Card and Citi® AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® offer the best coverage for delayed baggage. Citi will reimburse passengers for delays as short as three hours and up to $500 in incidentals. The insurance covers the credit card holder, family, and traveling companions.

The only catch is that both cards come with hefty $450 annual fees. A host of other benefits and some big sign-up bonuses help offset that annual fee, but there are other options for more budget-conscious consumers.

Chase Sapphire cards 

Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® and Chase Sapphire Reserve® offer coverage for delayed baggage. Chase will reimburse passengers for delays longer than six hours. And like the premium Citi credit cards, both Chase cards offer $500 in reimbursement, though it's limited to $100 per day. Also, the coverage is only for the cardholder and family members. If a traveling companion isn't immediate family, that person's incidentals aren't covered.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a $450 annual fee like the premium Citi credit cards, but it comes with some of the best travel benefits. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to learn more.

The annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® is just $95 per year (waived the first year), and carries some of the same benefits as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you're looking for the best baggage delay coverage for the lowest price, this is the card to get. Read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® to learn more.

Citi travel credit cards

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and Citi® AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® each provide the same coverage for delayed baggage. Like the premium Citi credit cards, the insurance covers the cardholder, family, and travel companions, but it requires a delay of at least six hours and will only reimburse up to $100 total. Both cards carry a $95 annual fee that's waived the first year.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard®

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® doesn't offer the best protection, but it can come in handy if you have a long baggage delay. The coverage doesn't kick in until a 12-hour delay, but Barclaycard will then cover $100 in essentials per day for up to three days. The insurance covers the cardholder and anyone else on the purchased itinerary.

The biggest benefit of using the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® is that it's one of the few instances when you can use rewards miles to cover the cost of the flight and still receive coverage. Because Barclaycard's miles are redeemed directly against travel expenses, you'll make your purchase on the credit card first and cover it with miles later. That way you get around the requirement that you must pay for the ticket with the credit card.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® offers an excellent option for travelers who prefer to use rewards to book flights instead of paying cash but still want baggage delay coverage. Read our full review of the The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® to learn more.

Travel smart -- use a credit card

Knowing the less prominent benefits of your credit card can pay off if you're smart about how you book travel. Credit cards also have a host of other great benefits you might not know about or be taking full advantage of. From free rental-car insurance to price protection, credit cards offer consumers a lot of protection.

Travel insurance is a big one, and if you're going to be traveling abroad, it pays to put it on your credit card. Even if you don't have to use the insurance coverage your credit card provides, you'll have the peace of mind of knowing you'll get reimbursed if something bad should happen.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.