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Credit Card Purchase Protection: Which Cards Have the Best Coverage?

8 min read
Ellen Sirull By Ellen Sirull Updated Sep 13, 2019

If you’ve ever bought something only to have it break or get stolen, you know the disappointment and money it can cost if it’s not covered by a warranty.

All’s not lost, though, if you have a credit card with purchase protection. Read on to learn more about this benefit and how it can save you money when you’d typically be out of luck.

What Is Credit Card Purchase Protection?

It’s a benefit some credit cards offer to help protect eligible purchases against accidental damage, theft, and sometimes loss (depending on the card).

There are various guidelines as far as what’s covered, how long the coverage lasts, and the amount covered, which depend on the specific card used for the purchase. Most Amex, Mastercard, and Visa cards offer purchase protection of some type.

For most cards, to be eligible for coverage, you must charge some portion of the purchased item to your credit card account. Some programs require you to charge the entire purchase to your card.

You won’t find purchase protection or any similar benefits on Discover credit cards.

How Are You Reimbursed?

The reimbursement method usually depends on the card and the issue with the item. Most likely, you’ll experience one of two methods:

  • Repair or replace the item. A damaged item may be repaired, rebuilt, or replaced wholly or in part. A stolen item may be replaced. You will be notified of the decision to repair, rebuild, or replace your item after making a claim.
  • Reimbursement for the original purchase price. You may be reimbursed for the covered item, up to the amount spent for the purchase. Any maximum coverage amounts will apply.

What Credit Cards Offer Purchase Protection?

The purchase protection coverage you get depends on your specific credit card issuer, network, and card.

Coverage usually ranges from approximately $500–$1,000 per item, up to $50,000 annually. When it comes to coverage duration, it’s often from 90–120 days after the date of purchase.

Card Network/Issuer Purchase Protection Coverage ($)
American Express
Chase
Citi
  • Varies by card
  • Typically up to $1,000–$10,000 per incident
  • Typically up to $50,000 per card account per year
Mastercard
  • Varies by card; check with your specific financial institution
  • Platinum Mastercards typically offer:
    • Up to $2,000 per incident
    • Up to $5,000 per 12-month period
  • World Elite Mastercards typically offer:
    • Up to $3,000 per incident
    • Up to $20,000 per 12-month period
Visa
  • Varies by card; check with your specific financial institution
  • Visa Signature cards may offer:
    • Up to $500 per incident
    • Up to $50,000 per cardholder
  • Visa Infinite cards typically offer:
    • Up to $10,000 per incident
    • Up to $50,000 per cardholder
Card Network/Issuer Purchase Protection Coverage Duration (From the Date of Purchase)
American Express
  • Up to 120 days in most states for accidental damage or theft
  • Up to 90 days in New York, Indiana, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Northern Mariana Islands
  • In addition to the above coverage, Amex Platinum, Amex Gold, and Delta Reserve cardholders also get up to 120 days for lost items (90 days in New York, Indiana, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Northern Mariana Islands)
  • File a claim within 30 days of the incident, or as soon as reasonably possible
Chase
  • Up to 120 days in most states for accidental damage, theft, or loss
  • File a claim within 90 days of the incident, or as soon as reasonably possible
Citi
  • Up to 90 days from purchase or delivery of the item (whichever is first)
Mastercard
  • Typically up to 120 days; check with your specific financial institution
Visa
  • Typically up to 90 days; check with your specific financial institution
  • File a claim within 60 days of the incident, or as soon as reasonably possible

How to Know If Your Card Has Purchase Protection

If you’re trying to figure out if your credit card offers purchase protection, you may be able to see your card benefit details via your online account dashboard (depending on your card issuer). Or, you can check your cardholder Guide to Benefits, which is typically sent to you along with your card.

You can also call the customer support number on the back of your card. They may be able to tell you whether or not your card offers it, or they may have to send you a Guide to Benefits.

Who Gets Purchase Protection Coverage?

Usually, primary and additional cardholders (like authorized users) who are U.S. residents (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) are eligible for purchase protection coverage. Gifts bought by a cardholder on an eligible card are often covered. Additionally, items purchased with rewards points are typically eligible.

How Long Does It Take to Close Out a Claim?

The length of time to get your funds (or a returned product) varies depending on the card and the details needed to process the claim (e.g. they may need to follow up with you and request more information). Usually once all the information is received and confirmed, and items are returned if necessary, claims are often processed within 5–15 days.

Do You Also Need to File an Insurance Claim?

If you have any applicable personal insurance (such as homeowner’s, renter’s, or automobile) related to the item, you may be required to file a claim with your insurance company, and to submit a copy of any claims settlement from your insurance along with your purchase protection claim form.

What’s Usually NOT Covered?

The exclusions sections of purchase protection programs are lengthy. So, before you buy something and expect it to be covered, it’s a good idea to review the details of your specific card. That way you won’t be in for a disappointing surprise later on.

Some common purchases that usually aren’t covered include:

  • Animals and living plants
  • Antiques and collectibles
  • Boats, aircraft, automobiles, and any other motorized vehicles and their motors, equipment or accessories, including trailers and other items that can be towed by or attached to any motorized vehicle
  • Computer software
  • Jewelry and watches in your baggage unless they are hand-carried and under your personal supervision
  • Medical equipment
  • Perishables and consumables
  • Collectibles like rare stamps or coins
  • Perfumes and cosmetics
  • Items with a limited life such as rechargeable batteries
  • Rented or leased items
  • Traveler’s checks, cash advances, tickets, gift cards
  • Used or pre-owned items
  • Business fixtures, including, but not limited to, air conditioners, refrigerators, heaters and/or any item that cannot be removed without causing damage to the structure
  • Items purchased for resale, professional, or commercial use

Some damage and loss types that are usually excluded include:

  • Damages resulting from normal wear and tear
  • Items that mysteriously disappear, meaning they vanish in an unexplained manner
  • Items lost during any illegal behavior

How to Make a Purchase Protection Claim

If you have something break or get stolen and want to use your purchase protection, here’s what you’ll need to do. Again, purchase protection policies will vary by credit card and the process may differ slightly from what you see here.

You can always call the phone number on the back of your credit card to ask specific questions about your purchase protection eligibility, and learn how to get started filing a claim.

You don’t usually have to sign up or enroll for purchase protection. Usually, you’ll just need to file a claim. The general steps to take often include:

  • Filing a police report if an item was stolen.
  • Contacting your card issuer immediately when the theft, damage, or loss occurs.
  • Having your receipt as well as any incident or police report available when calling to make a claim.
  • Presenting a copy of your credit card statement to show the account number and that the purchase was made on the card with coverage.
  • If the item is damaged, keeping the item (as you may need to send it in to process the claim).
  • Completing the requested paperwork and forms as well as following up on any additional information requested.

Additionally, here are some details on how to start a purchase protection claim with different card issuers and networks.

American Express Purchase Protection Instructions

  • You can file a claim or check the status of a claim by:
  • File a claim within 30 days of the incident, or as soon as reasonably possible.
  • You will likely be asked for satisfactory proof of the theft, accidental damage, or vandalism.
  • Keep all your American Express charge receipts, original store receipts, and damaged items.
  • After Amex has determined your item is eligible, you may be required to send it to AMEX Assurance Company, in which case you’ll be reimbursed for shipping costs.
  • You can visit americanexpress.com/PPterms and select your card for specific information on your card’s benefit.
  • For Amex Centurion members, visit americanexpress.com/PPCenturionTerms.
  • If you’re a Business Centurion member, go to americanexpress.com/PPBusinessCenturionTerms.

Chase Purchase Protection Instructions

  • File a claim with the Benefit Administrator online at eclaimsline.com, or call a specific Chase support line. Some useful numbers include:
  • File a claim within 90 days of the incident, or as soon as reasonably possible.
  • The customer service representative will ask you for some preliminary claim information and send you the appropriate claim form.
  • Complete the claim form you receive from the Benefit Administrator. Provide all of the information requested and return the information within 120 days from the date of loss, theft, or damage.
  • Gift recipients of eligible items are covered by the claims process. However, gift recipients must also provide all the documents necessary to fully substantiate the claim.
  • Details on the benefit for some cards are available on Chase’s website; here are the purchase protection details for the Sapphire Preferred, for example (try replacing the card name in the URL to find your card’s details).

Citi Purchase Protection Instructions

  • Citi refers to its program as “Damage & Theft Purchase Protection.”
  • You can make a claim for eligible damaged or stolen items by:
  • Notify Citi within 90 days of purchase or delivery of the item, whichever is first.
  • A representative will ask you a few questions and advise you on the documents that may be needed to support your claim. 
  • Return all requested documents within 180 days of the incident. 
  • More information is available in your guide to protection benefits, which you can find by logging in to your account on citi.com, in the “Rewards & Benefits” menu.

Mastercard Purchase Protection Instructions

  • Mastercard also refers to its program as “Purchase Assurance.”
  • You can file a claim online here or by calling 1-800-MASTERCARD (1-800-627-8372).
  • Details may vary by card. Find out specifics by checking your card’s benefit, or on the Mastercard website.
  • File a claim as soon as any accidental damage or theft has occurred, and file a police report as soon as an item is stolen.
  • You may need to return the item to Mastercard (if it’s damaged).

Visa Purchase Protection Instructions

  • Visa also refers to its program as “Purchase Security.”
  • You can file a claim online here.
  • For Visa Infinite cards, you can call 1-888-221-3289 or learn more here.
  • For other eligible Visa cards, you can contact your credit card issuer or call Visa’s customer support at 1-800-847-2911.
  • File a claim within 60 days of the damage or theft, or as soon as reasonably possible.
  • For stolen items, file a police report within 48 hours.

The Best Purchase Protection Credit Cards

These are some cards that offer the best purchase protection to cardholders:

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Our rating
Credit rangeExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$450
Regular APR18.99% - 25.99% Variable
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Our rating
Credit rangeGood
Details
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®

Our rating
Credit rangeGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR16.74 - 25.49% Variable
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Our rating
Credit rangeExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR15.24% - 21.24% Variable
American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Our rating
Credit rangeGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$250
Regular APRN/A
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

Our rating
Credit rangeExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$400
Regular APR17.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Citi<sup>®</sup> Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Our rating
Credit rangeGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR15.74%– 25.74% (Variable)
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Citi Premier<sup>℠</sup> Card

Citi Premier Card

Our rating
Credit rangeGood
Details
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR18.24% - 26.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

Reviewing Credit Card Benefits

Purchase protection is just one of the useful benefits you may get depending on which cards you have in your wallet.

Card issuers love to advertise the big flashy benefits, like travel credits and airport lounge access. When considering a new credit card, you’ll want to weigh all the features including the annual fee, APR, rewards, and those interesting perks.

But don’t forget about the less exciting protections and insurances, like travel insurance, extended warranties, price protection, and return protection, which may end up saving you quite a bit of cash.

In the market for a new credit card, whether you want purchase protection or not? See our picks for the Best Credit Cards for a variety of categories and lifestyles.
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For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

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