A guide to credit card return protection

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So let’s say that you buy a lamp from an expensive store only to get buyer’s remorse when you get home. You may rush to return the over-priced purchase as soon as possible, only to find out that the store has a no return policy.

This is where return protection comes in. Credit card return protection is a notoriously fickle credit card perk that’s also increasingly rare. Despite its extensive fine print and exclusions, it can be beneficial for consumers who are having second thoughts about a purchase.

What is credit card return protection?

Credit card return protection is an added benefit of making a purchase with a credit card that allows individuals to return a purchase, even if the retailer doesn’t allow returns. If the retailer allows returns, credit card return protection can extend the time a consumer had to return the item.

It’s important to note that not all credit card issuers offer return protection, as it’s a dying perk in the credit card industry. Over the last few years, many issuers — such as Discover in 2018 — have phased out return protection benefits altogether.

How does return protection work?

The steps of processing a return request can be a cumbersome experience, and it varies based on the card, card issuer and purchase in question. Credit card issuers who still offer purchase return protection will often have rules that exclude some purchases.

If the item is eligible for return, most issuers will require the following to process the request:

  • A credit card statement showing that the purchase was made with their card that offers return protection.
  • The original receipt of purchase.
  • Documentation that you tried to return the purchase to the original retailer.

Rules and restrictions for credit card return protection

Issuer Limits and Eligibility Exclusions
American Express
  1. Items are only eligible for return protection in the first 90-days after purchase
  2. Limit of $300 refund per return.
  3. Limit of $1,000 in returns per calendar year

 

  1. Personal hygiene products
  2. Books and magazines
  3. Jewelry
  4. Formal wear
  5. Live animals
  6. For a full list of exclusions refer to the American Express FAQ
Mastercard
  1. Items are only eligible for return protection in the first 60-days after purchase
  2. Limit of $250 per claim
  3. Limit of 4 claims per calendar year
  1. Jewelry
  2. Computer software
  3. Animals and plants
  4. For a full list of exclusions refer to the Mastercard FAQ
Visa (Infinite Cards)
  1. Items are only eligible for return protection in the first 90-days after purchase
  2. Limit of $300 refund per claim
  3. Limit of $1,000 in refunds in a calendar year
  4. The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card offers an increased limit of $500 per claim, though it is still subject to the limit of $1,000 in refunds per year.
  1. Damaged items
  2. Medical equipment
  3. Plants and animals
  4. Holiday decorations
  5. Batteries
  6. For a full list of exclusions refer to the Visa FAQ

Our take on credit card return protection

Credit card return protection can offer peace of mind when shopping for an item that may not be refundable. However, the extensive fine print and exclusions make this more of a back-up option to get a refund rather than a credit card perk you can use routinely.