Before assuming your card carries certain benefits, check it out. MasterCard and Visa each recommend contacting your issuing bank to make sure they back up the purchase protections they provide.
Many of these protections apply to the top-tier cards the issuer provides. Many mainstream cards are left out or receive lesser protections. If that's the case, think long and hard before paying extra for premium protection.
Ask yourself if the cost of protection makes sense for the purchases you make every year. Can you swallow the cost of a damaged or stolen item? Does your insurance or the store's policy provide any coverage?
Also, don't forget that many protections have restrictions such as dollar limits for individual claims and annual totals. Many plans exclude certain purchases, such as cars, antiques or items bought outside the U.S. And of course, you'll have to follow claims procedures as directed to receive any protection benefits.
Ridout points out that one credit card provides 60 days of theft and damage coverage on purchased items, but only after the cardholder exhausted what their renters or homeowners insurance covered.
"That is nearly worthless," he says. "Fine print can vary widely."