Credit Card Purchase Protection Explained

Credit Card Purchase Protection Explained

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Purchase protection is a common credit card benefit that allows consumers to file a claim with their issuer to receive replacement, repair or reimbursement for any eligible stolen or damaged items. Major credit card networks, such as Mastercard and Visa, have different policies for purchase protection.

Consumers should understand their network’s policy to ensure that their products are covered in the case of an incident — especially when purchasing expensive electronics or furniture. Generally, claims for purchase protection can be filed online or by phone for all major credit card networks.

Purchase protection comparison across major networks

While most major credit card networks offer purchase protection, the name of the feature may differ by company. The differences can impact the time credit card users have to submit claims, the length of time their purchase is covered and claim limits. For example, Mastercard calls it "purchase assurance," while Visa refers to it as "purchase security." We outline the differences across purchase protection programs by each card network in the table below.

It's worth noting that purchase protection serves as secondary coverage, meaning you must first file a claim with your primary insurance. For example, if you have renter's insurance, your credit card's purchase protection will serve as secondary coverage. If someone breaks into your apartment and steals your laptop, then purchase protection will only cover the remaining difference.

American Express
Mastercard
VISA
Credit cards covered by purchase protectionMost American Express cards (check eligibility here)Depends on the financial institutionVisa Signature and Infinite cards
How long does purchase protection last?Up to 90 days from the date of purchaseUp to 90 days from the date of purchase (certain cards allow up to 120 days)Up to 90 days from date of purchase (certain cards allow up to 120 days)
Maximum payout per claimUp to $10,000 (depending on the card)Up to $1,000Up to $10,000 (certain cards only)
Maximum payout per yearUp to $50,000Up to $50,000 (depending on the card)Up to $50,000
How long does it take to get reimbursed?Within 30 days after claim is approvedInformation not availableWithin 15 days after claim is approved
How long do you have to file a claim?30 days or as soon as reasonably possibleWithin 90 daysWithin 90 days

American Express purchase protection

American Express has one of the best purchase protection policies out of the major card networks, thanks to its comprehensive policy offered on all of its personal cards. The maximum payouts will depend on the card, but the top cards offer up to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per year.

While other networks limit purchase protection to damaged or stolen products, American Express includes lost items under coverage benefits. Your purchase protection will cover items purchased within 90 days. You have 30 days — or as soon as reasonably possible — to file a claim from the incident. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

Mastercard purchase protection

Whether you'll receive purchase protection benefits with Mastercard will depend on your financial institution. To see if your card is eligible, be sure to check your benefits guide to see if purchase protection is available.

Similar to American Express, Mastercard's purchase protection will cover your item up to 90 days from the purchase date. However, the individual claim limit is lower — you'll receive up to $1,000 per claim or $50,000 per year. From the incident date, you have an additional 90 days to file your claim.

Visa purchase protection

Visa offers purchase security for Visa Signature and Infinite cards only. If your item is stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchase, this policy can replace, repair or reimburse you up to $10,000 per claim or $50,000 maximum per year. There are limitations to this policy, so be sure to read your card's benefits guide for a full explanation of what's excluded under purchase security. Items that are lost are not eligible for purchase protection.

Visa makes it very clear that if your item is stolen, you must file a police report within 48 hours. You'll then want to notify your benefits administrator through your financial institution within 60 days of the incident — regardless if it's theft or damage. You must complete the claims form and supply any necessary documentation within 90 days of the incident.

Purchase protection by credit card issuers

Now that we've gone through the major card networks, we take a look at purchase protection by credit card issuers. Besides American Express, Chase is the only financial institution that offers purchase protection on all of their credit cards — regardless if it's a Visa or Mastercard. Meanwhile, some card issuers don't offer purchase protection at all. The following table breaks down the credit card issuers that offer purchase protection — and if applicable, the cards come with this benefit.

Credit card issuer
Do they offer purchase protection?
Card type
Cards with purchase protection
Purchase protection limits
Bank of AmericaYes, on select cards onlyVisa SignatureCovers stolen or damaged goods for 90 days up to $10,000 per claim
BarclaysNoN/AN/AN/A
Capital OneYes, on select cards onlyVisa SignatureCovers stolen or damaged goods for 90 days up to $500 per claim
World Elite MastercardCovers stolen or damaged goods for 90 days up to $1,000 per claim
ChaseYes, on all cardsVisa InfiniteCovers stolen or damaged goods for 120 days up to $10,000 per claim
Visa SignatureCovers stolen or damaged goods for 120 days up to $500 per claim
World Elite MastercardCovers stolen or damaged goods for 120 days up to $500 per claim
CitiNoN/AN/AN/A
DiscoverNoN/AN/AN/A
Wells FargoYes, on select cards onlyVisa Signature
  • Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card
Covers stolen or damaged goods purchased within 90 days of purchase with reimbursement of up to $500 per claim

In recent years, Barclays, Citi and Discover have eliminated purchase protection (among other shopping benefits) from all of their cards. Your best bet is to apply for any of the cards listed above, as they still come with this valuable benefit.

What's covered under a credit card's purchase protection?

A credit card’s purchase protection typically covers theft and damage to a tangible item within a specific time frame from when you purchased the item. For an item to qualify for purchase protection, you must buy it with the credit card that you plan on filing a claim under.

Damage coverage includes physical harm to an eligible item. For example, if you shatter your phone screen within 90 days of purchasing, then you can file a claim under your credit card network’s purchase protection policy — until the limits of the claim.

Purchase protection covers theft of any eligible items. Major credit card networks generally require a police report to be filed in the instance of theft. You must provide this supporting documentation along with your claims form.

Lost items typically aren't covered under purchase protection. If you don’t remember what happened to your phone, but there was no specific incident — such as theft — then you aren't typically covered under purchase protection. Only American Express covers lost items.

What's covered:
What's not covered:
American Express
  • Damage
  • Theft
  • Loss
  • Downloadable services or software
  • Medical or dental devices
  • Items purchased for professional or commercial use, including education, training, skills or professional competition
Mastercard
  • Damage
  • Theft
  • Lost items
  • Perishable items
  • Pre-owned items
  • Computer software
Visa
  • Damage
  • Theft

Purchases made outside of the U.S. are included, so long as you make the purchase with your eligible card.

  • Lost items
  • Computer software
  • Items under the control of a common carrier, such as USPS, airplanes or other delivery services
  • Used or preowned items

While major credit card networks offer terms and conditions for purchase protection, credit card issuers, such as Citi and Bank of America, can offer their customers altered policies. Consumers should ask the card issuer directly about what's covered under their credit card.

How to file a purchase protection claim

Credit card users are recommended to file claims under their network’s purchase protection policy as soon as an item has been stolen or damaged. If the item was damaged, the consumer may be asked to return the eligible item as part of the claims process. We've listed common documents consumers will need to submit as part of a claim along with contact information to file a claim for purchase protection below:

  • Claim form
  • Credit card statement showing the record of purchase
  • Insurance claim (if applicable)
  • Insurance declaration page (if applicable)
  • Original receipt from the place of purchase
  • Police report (if filing a claim for a stolen item)
American Express
Mastercard
VISA
Phone number800-322-1277 (domestic)
303-273-6498 (international)
800-627-8372800-848-1943
Make an online claimFile a claimFile a claimFile a claim

How is credit card purchase protection different from extended warranty coverage and price protection?

Purchase protection differs from other benefits offered by major credit card networks, such as price protection, extended warranty and return guarantee. While purchase protection offers coverage for theft and accidental damage within a limited time frame, these are other typical card benefits worth noting:

  • Price protection is a benefit that allows the consumer to retroactively apply a lower price to an item that was purchased. If you bought a television today and in 30 days the price drops by $300, then the benefit would allow you to file a claim and receive the $300 difference.
  • Extended warranty protection allows users to lengthen the time of coverage under an original manufacturer’s warranty. Extended warranty features cover the length of coverage and defects from the manufacturer, whereas purchase protection covers user damage.
  • Return protection is a network benefit that extends the time consumers have to return an item. It also allows users to return an item even if purchased at a store with a no-return policy.

Best credit cards for purchase protection

Out of all the cards that offer purchase protection, here are our top picks. On top of excellent travel benefits, the following cards come with comprehensive purchase protection policies that competing cards lack.

Card

Annual fee
Purchase protection benefit
American Express® Gold Card$250 (See rates and fees)
  • Lost, damaged or stolen goods — up to 90 days from purchase
  • Up to $10,000 per claim, up to $50,000 per calendar year
Apply Now
The Platinum Card® from American Express$695 (See rates and fees)
  • Lost, damaged or stolen goods — up to 90 days from purchase
  • Up to $10,000 per claim, up to $50,000 per calendar year
Apply Now
Chase Sapphire Reserve® card$550
  • Damaged or stolen items — up to 120 days from purchase
  • Up to $10,000 per claim, up to $50,000 per calendar year
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card$95
  • Damaged or stolen items — up to 120 days from purchase
  • Up to $500 per claim, up to $50,000 per calendar year
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website

ValuePenguin's verdict

Purchase protection is an underrated yet valuable benefit offered on many credit cards. Knowing how to leverage this benefit correctly could potentially help you save thousands of dollars per year, as many of the major network issuers allow you to file claims up to $50,000 in a calendar year. You can speed up the claims process by providing all the necessary documentation, helping you gain your reimbursement as quickly as possible.

For rates and fees of American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

The information related to Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card, Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).