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Many of us enter the world of rewards credit cards thinking of little more than earning the points and miles that will get us to our next destination. But, rewards cards often provide other less well-known benefits. And these can produce thousands of dollars in value over the time you hold the card.
One of the most common benefits offered is purchase protection. This protection covers the replacement, repair, or reimbursement of stolen or damaged items in the months immediately following a purchase.
Purchase protection policies vary between credit card networks and card issuers. So, it’s vital that you understand the coverage provided by your card before you need to make a significant purchase or claim.
What Is Purchase Protection and How Does It Work?
Purchase protection covers you against damage to—or theft of—items you’ve purchased using your credit card. If you make a purchase on your card and that item is stolen, broken, or in any way damaged, you can lodge a claim via your card issuer. The benefits provider will compensate for the repair, replacement, or reimbursement of the purchase price for that item.
However, you're going to need to pay attention to the terms and conditions. There may be limitations on what types of purchases are eligible for this protection. Also, there may be other issuer-specific rules or conditions.
Coverage typically lasts between three and four months from the purchase date. Claims are typically limited to $500 per incident on the low end through to $10,000 on the high end. There's usually an annual cap of up to $50,000.
Credit Cards Offering Purchase Protection Policies
Mastercard and Visa both offer purchase protection policies. However, it's up to individual card issuers to decide how the plan is implemented, and the level of coverage. Meanwhile, American Express generally offers purchase protection on most of its cards.
|Credit Provider||Cards Offering Purchase Protection||Max Claim Value||Claim Window||Example of Policy|
|Citi||We couldn't locate a universal policy for Citi purchase protection, but the same policy applied across most personal Citi terms we could lay our hands on. The example given is from the premium Citi Prestige® Card. Citi no longer provides purchase protection on the Citi® Double Cash Card.||Up to $10,000 per item, up to $50,000 per year||90 days||Citi Prestige Guide to Benefits|
|Chase||Purchase protection policies differ between cards, check your card's Guide to Benefits linked in our AwardWallet master-list||Between $500 and $10,000 per covered incident depending on the card held - all cards cover up to $50,000 in claims per year||120 days||AwardWallet Masterlist of Guides to Benefits|
|American Express||Amex provides purchase protection across 58 credit and charge cards - you can find links to each card's policy in the linked page on Amex's website||Between $1,000 and $10,000 per covered incident depending on the card held - all cards cover up to $50,000 in claims per year||90 days||American Express Purchase Protection Policies|
|Barclays||Most Barclays personal and co-brand cards provide the same purchase protection policy (marketed as Purchase Assurance) - see your guide to benefits for more details||A maximum of $1,000 per loss and a total of $50,000 per 12 month period||90 days||Arrival Plus Guide to Benefits|
|Capital One||Capital One's purchase protection is marketed as Purchase Security, and only covers Visa Signature and Visa Signature Business cards||A maximum of $500 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder||90 days||Capital One Guide to Benefits|
|U.S. Bank||Covers U.S. Bank issued Visa Signature® cards||A maximum of $500.00 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder||90 days||U.S. Bank Visa Signature Purchase Security|
|Wells Fargo||Not all Wells Fargo cards offer purchase protection policies and coverage differs between cards, check your card's Guide to Benefits linked in our AwardWallet masterlist||Between $500 and $1,000 per covered incident depending on the card held, up to $50,000 in claims per year - not all Wells Fargo credit cards provide Purchase Protection.||90 days||Master list of Guides to Benefits|
Discover cut purchase protection as a card benefit as of February 28, 2018, along with other ancillary benefits.
American Express announced changes starting on January 1, 2020. You can find our post on the update here.
What Purchases Are Excluded from Purchase Protection?
The list of exclusions differs for each provider but is relatively consistent across different cards from the same issuer. Common exclusions include:
- Animals, plants, perishables, and consumables
- Antiques and collectible items
- Boats, cars, aircraft, or any other motorized vehicles (motorbike, truck, tractor, etc.)
- Computer software
- Items purchased for resale, professional, or commercial use
- Items under the care of a postal or delivery service
- Jewelry and watches
- Medical equipment
- Real estate
- Rented or leased items
- Traveler’s checks, cash, tickets, or gift cards
- Secondhand or refurbished items
Each provider issues a list of exclusions, often differing between cards from the same provider. It’s essential to read the guide to benefits for your specific credit cards to confirm if your card offers purchase protection, and what items it covers. If you’re unfamiliar with your card benefits, we’ve compiled a handy list of guides to benefits from major credit providers.
Which Card Issuer Has the Best Purchase Protection Policy
Citi and Amex lead the way in the purchase protection category, providing coverage up to $10,000 per item/incident, up to a maximum of $50,000 per year on premium cards.
Premium coverage on cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and Chase Sapphire Reserve® offer $10K per incident. Amex covers 90 days from purchase, and, on the low-end, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card provides a maximum of $500 per item, half that of Amex’s lowest coverage and just 5% of Citi’s.
The American Express® Gold Card offers top value, providing $10K coverage with an annual fee of $250 (Rates & Fees). Or, if it’s a business expense, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card covers up to $10K per item, with an annual fee of just $95.
How to File a Claim
For every policy, there are some basic housekeeping rules for making claims that match-up across providers. In all cases, you will need to keep both the credit card and shop receipts for the purchased item as proof of purchase, lodge a claim form from the provider, and present a police report if the claim is for a stolen item. To begin filing a claim, call the relevant number below or visit the listed website.
- Citi — Go to https://www.cardbenefits.citi.com or call 1-866-918-4670 for instructions on how to submit a Citi Purchase Protection claim
- Chase — Go to https://www.eclaimsline.com Call 1-888-675-1461 for information or to file a claim.
- American Express — Go to https://www.americanexpress.com/onlineclaim or call 1-800-322-1277 to file a claim
- Barclays — Visit MyCardBenefits.com or call 1-800-Mastercard to open a claim
- Capital One — Call the Benefit Administrator at 1-800-553-4820*
- U.S. Bank — Call the Benefit Administrator at 1-800-553-4820*
- Wells Fargo — Visa cardholders call the Benefit Administrator at 1-800-553-4820*, Amex cardholders call a separate Benefit Administrator at 1-866-918-4442
* Policies provided by Visa
Purchase protection is one of the least talked about benefits of holding rewards-earning credit cards. But the ability to claim up to $10,000 per item is potentially worth more than the extra points you can gain swiping a card with a less generous policy.
In all cases, you should read and understand the guide to benefits issued with your card before making any substantial purchase, to ensure you are covered for any damage or theft.
If we’ve missed a card/provider off the list that you think should be included—or if you catch a change before we do—let us know in the comments below.
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees)
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