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Guide to American Express purchase protection

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Courtesy of American Express
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Most consumers sign up for travel and rewards credit cards in order to rack up points and miles, but in some cases, the consumer benefits credit cards offer can be worth considerably more over the long run. Of course, this is only the case when you are in a position to take advantage of the cardholder benefits afforded to you.

Purchase protection is one benefit that’s extremely easy to use, especially if you use your credit card to pay for a lot of big-ticket items. Fortunately, many American Express credit cards offer this perk, although coverage limits vary depending on the specific card you’re approved for.

What is Amex purchase protection?

American Express purchase protection is similar to protections offered by other rewards and travel credit cards. With Amex purchase protection, you gain basic protection against damage or theft for items you pay for with your credit card within a specific period of time.

Benefits from Amex purchase protection are meant to reimburse you for the repair cost or replacement cost of your item, which is often easier to determine since you just paid for it with your credit card.

Note that, like other purchase protection benefits afforded through credit cards, Amex purchase protection is good up to a specific amount for each claim. Annual claim limits also apply, although all Amex limits for this coverage tend to be on the generous side.

Which credit cards offer Amex purchase protection?

American Express makes it easy to find out which of their credit cards offer purchase protection via their website. Generally speaking, nearly all Amex rewards and travel credit cards come with this perk, including cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards points and cards co-branded with Delta Air Lines and Hilton Honors.

With that being said, you won’t get the same amount of coverage from all American Express credit cards, and some are a lot more generous than others.

The Platinum Card from American Express

With The Platinum Card® from American Express purchase protection, you get up to $10,000 in coverage per covered purchase with an annual limit of $50,000 per eligible card. Coverage is good for up to 90 days from the date the covered purchase was made.

This card also comes with up to $500 in coverage per covered event in instances where a natural disaster takes place.

American Express Gold Card

With the American Express® Gold Card, you can qualify for the exact same level of coverage as you get with American Express Platinum purchase protection. You’ll get $10,000 in coverage per covered purchase within 90 days of when the purchase is made. A $50,000 annual limit also applies, and you get up to $500 in coverage for each loss due to a covered natural disaster.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express also comes with the same terms. Get $10,000 in coverage for each eligible purchase made within 90 days with an annual limit of $50,000 and up to $500 in loss coverage for each covered natural disaster.

Amex EveryDay Credit Card

The American Express EveryDay® Credit Card doesn’t charge an annual fee, so it shouldn’t be surprising that you receive a lower level of purchase protection coverage. With this card, you’ll get up to $1,000 in coverage per qualifying purchase with an annual limit of $50,000 per year. Purchase protection is good for up to 90 days from the purchase date, and the same $500 in coverage for each natural disaster applies.

What kind of purchases are covered?

According to American Express, a “covered event” is a situation where a “covered purchase” is affected by damage or theft. For a purchase to qualify, it only needs to be paid for using an American Express credit card that offers this important coverage. Even if you only charge a portion of your qualifying purchase to your American Express card, you are still eligible for the purchase protection benefits.  However, you’ll only be reimbursed up to the amount charged to your card.

Specific examples where purchase protection could come in handy could include:

  • You purchased a new set of home appliances, but you realize they have considerable damage and denting after they were already delivered and installed
  • Someone breaks into your car and steals your recently purchased laptop computer
  • You buy a new home audio system and you drop it on accident, rendering it unusable
  • You buy a new piece of artwork for your living room and an earthquake knocks it off the wall, creating a major tear that cannot be repaired

What does Amex purchase protection not cover?

While American Express purchase protection covers quite a few circumstances, there are plenty of situations where your coverage will not apply. These are listed explicitly in the terms of the policy you receive with your American Express credit card, but we’ve highlighted the major instances and situations that are not covered by purchase protection, below:

  • Acts of war
  • Government confiscation of your property
  • Damage due to participation in a riot, civil disturbance or protest
  • Damage that takes place when a third party has your item in their possession
  • Stolen items that were not safeguarded (i.e. valuable goods left in an unlocked car)
  • Normal wear and tear
  • Items that mysteriously disappear
  • Fraud, dishonesty or criminal acts or omissions
  • Damaged caused by alteration of any kind
  • Items covered by an unconditional satisfaction guarantee
  • One-of-a-kind pieces of art or furniture
  • Items that are not purchased but rented, leased or borrowed instead
  • Lands or buildings
  • Most motorized devices
  • Items you discarded
  • Items purchased for resale
  • Medical or dental devices or equipment

Before you rely on this coverage for an item you plan to buy, make sure to read through your coverage terms and conditions to make sure your purchase will qualify.

Does Amex offer other types of shopping protection?

In addition to the purchase protection described above, Amex cards also offer return protection and extended warranty protection. Many Amex cards phased out return protection as of January 1, 2020, but there are a number of cards that still offer this benefit:  The Platinum Card from American Express, The Business Platinum Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardDelta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® CardBlue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card.

In essence, the return protection benefit compensates cardmembers when a store doesn’t accept an eligible item for return within 90 days of purchase. When this happens, Amex will refund the entire purchase price up to $300 per item, less shipping and handling charges. This benefit is limited to $1,000 annually.

There are many ineligible items that do not qualify for this protection, like live plants, firearms, seasonal items, jewelry and more. So be sure to read your card’s terms and conditions to know exactly what qualifies for the return protection benefit.

Amex extended warranty protection matches a manufacturer’s warranty of less than two years and extends warranties of up to five years by an additional one to two years. The length of the extension depends on your Amex card.

This coverage is secondary to the manufacturer’s warranty, so it only applies when the original warranty has expired. The coverage is limited to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 in total claims per calendar year.

How to file a claim

To file a claim with Amex purchase protection, you can do so online or by calling 800-228-6855.

For return protection, you have to file a claim within 90 days of your original purchase. For purchase protection or extended warranty claims, notice of the claim should be filed with American Express within 30 days of the loss or as soon as possible. Claim forms will likely be sent to you within 15 days after you report a loss, at which point you’ll provide American Express with all the information you can about your specific claim.

American Express notes that proof of your loss needs to be submitted to them within 60 days, if possible. This may include an original itemized store receipt showing the purchase you’re filing a claim for, a copy of any insurance declaration agreement, a photograph that shows damage to your item, a completed repair estimate form or a written police report for theft and vandalism claims. In some cases, you may even have to return the actual damaged or irreparable item to Amex.

Once American Express receives all the information required to process your claim, they’ll conduct an investigation and determine if your purchase qualifies for repair or replacement. Generally speaking, qualified claims will receive the lesser of the cost to repair the item, the cost to replace the item or full reimbursement of the item in question.

The one exception is natural disasters, in which case claims are limited to $500 in reimbursement regardless of the purchase price of the item.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards, loyalty and insurance topics. In addition to writing for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, Johnson does ongoing work for clients that include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.
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Personal Finance Writer