Credit card purchase protection benefits

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Credit cards can come with a range of benefits that extend far beyond the rewards you can earn. With the right credit card, you could even qualify for perks like airport lounge access, credits for Global Entry or TSA Precheck membership and extended warranties on eligible items that already come with a manufacturer’s warranty.

Credit card purchase protection is another generous credit card perk, although the amount of coverage and the limitations of this benefit can vary from card to card. If you’re hoping to pick up a credit card that offers specific protection against damage or theft for items you plan to purchase, you’ll want to know about all the differences in coverage and the cards that can help you qualify.

What is credit card purchase protection?

Credit card purchase protection is a benefit that can provide you with repair or reimbursement if an item you purchase with a credit card is damaged or stolen. Typically, this coverage is only good for a specific period of time after the purchase date (usually 90 to 120 days), and for a specific amount. You may only be able to use the purchase protection on your credit card up to a certain limit each year as well, although annual coverage limits tend to be high.

How does purchase protection work in real life? Imagine for a moment you purchased a new laptop computer and used it without incident for a few weeks. Eventually, however, the laptop is stolen out of your car while you’re in class. If the incident happens within the coverage limit your card offers (usually 90 to 120 days), you could potentially file a claim with your credit card purchase protection and be reimbursed for the charge.

To qualify for purchase protection, all you have to do is pay for the item you want coverage for with your credit card — in this case, a laptop. From there, you should save your receipt and other documentation that can help you qualify for reimbursement or replacement if your item is damaged or stolen within the coverage period.

Credit card networks that offer protection

You may have purchase protection on your credit card based on the card network your card runs on. This coverage can vary in terms of the amount of time you can use it, as well as annual limits, so you should become familiar with these terms. The following chart outlines the purchase protection benefit details across three major card networks — Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

Visa Mastercard American Express
Credit cards covered by purchase protection Visa Signature and Visa Infinite credit cards Varies All
Maximum payout per claim $500 to $10,000  $1,000 per purchase $1,000 to $10,000 per covered purchase
Maximum coverage per year $50,000  $50,000 per year $50,000 per year
How long does coverage last? 90 to 120 days 120 days (90 days if you live in New York) 90 days
Reimbursement timeline Within 5 business days after approval See cardholder agreement Within 30 days after all proof and documentation is submitted
When should you have to file a claim? 120 days 180 days  Within 30 days of the loss or as soon as possible
What is covered?  Damage and theft  Damage and theft  Damage and theft

We did not include the other major card network — Discover — in this chart since Discover credit cards do not offer purchase protection benefits.

Which credit card comes with the best purchase protection benefits?

Premium credit cards with purchase protection coverage come with higher limits, which can make sense if you plan to use a credit card for a large purchase.

One of your best options is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which includes up to $10,000 in coverage per claim with an annual benefit amount of $50,000. Chase Sapphire purchase protection from this card is also good for 120 days after purchase, and it’s good for all “personal property that has been damaged, stolen, or involuntary and accidental parting,” according to Chase.

The Platinum Card® from American Express is another top tier travel credit card with generous purchase protection benefits. American Express purchase protection on this card is good for up to $10,000 per purchase and up to $50,000 per eligible card every year. You can also use this coverage for up to 90 days from the date of purchase.

Top credit cards for purchase protection

If you are hoping to pick up a purchase protection credit card, you should know about coverage amounts and limits that apply. The following chart includes all the top credit cards that offer this coverage, including the premium travel credit cards we highlighted above.

Credit card Bonus offer Annual fee Purchase protection limits
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express Limited Time Offer: Earn a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. Offer Expires 12/10/2020 Limited Time Offer: $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95. Offer Expires 12/10/2020 $1,000 per purchase and up to $50,000 per card per calendar year
The Platinum Card® from American Express 75,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on your card within the first six months $550 Up to $10,000 per purchase and up to $50,000 per card per calendar year
American Express® Gold Card Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 6 months. $250 Up to $10,000 per purchase and up to $50,000 per card per calendar year
Chase Sapphire Reserve® 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening $550  Up to $10,000 per purchase and up to $50,000 per card per calendar year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening $95 Up to $500 per claim and up to $50,000 per account
Ink Business Unlimited credit card $750 cash back when you spend $7,500 on your card within three months of account opening $0 Up to $10,000 per purchase and up to $50,000 per card per calendar year
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi None $0 Up to $1,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per year

 

The information about the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

How to use purchase protection

To take advantage of the purchase protection, you should first read through your credit card’s terms and conditions so you understand limitations and exclusions. From there, all you have to do is use your credit card to pay for an eligible item. Once purchased, the item is automatically eligible for purchase protection since credit cards do not require you to “enroll” your purchases for this benefit.

If you need to file a claim within the term of your purchase protection coverage, you will typically be provided with the option to do so using a hotline or an online form.

Your purchase protection administrator will typically ask you to provide supporting information such as the credit card statement that includes the purchase, a receipt for the purchase, a police report in the event of theft and more.

Once you submit all the information required to file a claim, you’ll wait for the credit card company to conduct an investigation. Once their work is complete, you’ll work with them toward a reasonable solution, whether that means reimbursement, replacement or repair in the event of damage to your item.

What is not included in purchase protection?

Make sure you read the terms and conditions of your credit card coverage so you know what is and what isn’t included. While most purchases can qualify for purchase protection, exclusions can apply and may include:

  • Items that disappear mysteriously
  • Used items you purchase with your credit card
  • Antiques and collectible items
  • Computer software
  • Boats, automobiles and other motorized vehicles
  • Items purchased for resale

Before you go shopping for a major purchase, make sure you know what your credit card purchase protection will cover and how much protection you have per item and per year.