Credit Card Purchase Protection Explained

Credit Card Purchase Protection Explained

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Purchase protection is a common credit card feature that allows consumers to file a claim with their network on eligible damaged or stolen items for replacement, repair, or reimbursement. Major credit card networks, such as Mastercard and VISA, for example, have different policies for purchase protection. Consumers should understand their specific network’s policy to ensure that their products are covered in the case of an incident. Claims for purchase protection can be filed online or by phone for all major credit card networks.

Credit Card Purchase Protection by Network

Major credit card networks offer different purchase protection coverage. The differences generally impact the time credit card users have to submit claims, the length of time their purchase is covered, and claim limits. While most major credit card networks offer purchase protection, the name of the feature may differ by company. For example, Mastercard calls its policy price assurance while VISA refers to it as purchase security. Mastercard offers the longest period of coverage for purchase protection among the major credit card networks and VISA offers the least coverage for any claim. We outline the differences across purchase protection programs by major credit card network below.

American ExpressMastercardVISA
Credit Cards Covered by Purchase ProtectionAllDiffers by issuing financial institutionSignature and Infinite Cards
How Long Does Purchase Protection Last?90 days120 days (90 days for New York residents)90 days
Maximum Payout Per Claim$1,000$1,000$500 ($10,000 for Infinite Cards)
Maximum Payout Per Year$50,000$50,000$50,000
How Long Does it Take to Get Reimbursed?Within 30 days upon receipt and review of the claimNot listed in terms and conditionsWithin 5 business days upon receipt and approval of all claim materials
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?30 days180 days120 days (90 days to alert of incident)

What Is Covered Under a Credit Card’s Purchase Protection?

A credit card’s purchase protection typically covers theft and damage to an eligible item. For an item to be eligible, it must be purchased with the credit card that you intend to file the claim under. All purchases made by consumers are automatically eligible.

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. However, claim limits exist, so if you use a VISA Signature card to purchase an item,you'll only be covered up to $500.

Purchase protection also covers theft of any eligible items. So, if someone breaks into your apartment and steals your laptop, then you'd be covered under purchase protection. Major credit card networks require a police report to be filed in the instance of theft. However, purchase protection offered by major credit card networks serves as secondary coverage, meaning that a claim has to be filed with your primary insurance first. For example, in the situation above if you have renters insurance, it will serve as your primary coverage. If you have a primary insurer, purchase protection only covers the difference. Lost items 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 covered under purchase protection.

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 what is covered under their specific credit card. Below, we provide a list of coverage and important exclusions by major credit card network.

What is Covered?What isn’t Covered?
American ExpressTheft; Accidental damage.Damaged items not under your possession; Lost items with no explanation; lost items under the care of the USPS; Normal wear and tear.
MastercardTheft; Accidental damage.Items that weren’t kept safe; Items used in a way not originally intended; Normal wear and tear.
VISATheft; Accidental damage.Computer software; Lost items with no explanation; Lost items under the care of the USPS; Normal wear and tear.

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, then 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 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 ExpressMastercardVISA
Phone Number1-800-322-12771-800-627-83721-888-221-3289
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. Purchase protection offers coverage for theft and accidental damage within a limited time frame from the date of purchase. Price protection is a benefit that allows the consumer to retroactively apply a lower price to an item that was purchased. If you purchased 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 warranties allow users to lengthen the time of coverage under an original manufacturer’s warranty. Extended warranty features covers the length of coverage as well as 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 it was purchased at a store with a no-return policy.


Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

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