Last updated on August 23rd, 2023
Credit cards offer greater protection for consumers than cash. This security is due to the ability to quickly trace transactions versus paper money. Credit cards also offer something called “purchase protection.” While that phrase often appears on credit card feature lists, what does it mean? Here’s everything you need to know about credit card purchase protection.
What Is Credit Card Purchase Protection?
Purchase protection is a common feature in many credit cards. It shields users from damage, loss, or theft of select purchases.
Payment protection insurance helps keep cardholders safe from financial loss. This security is one of the best features of credit cards – even though many consumers often overlook it. These protections add on to the basic security offered by the Fair Credit Billing Act.
That Act ensures consumers are safe from unfair billing practices, including charge disputes, undelivered goods, and more. The FCBA places the maximum liability for consumers at $50 for any unauthorized use of their credit card.
Purchase protection, however, is not the same as extended warranty coverage or price protection – two additional features that come with some credit cards. Those services cover items with warranties and lower prices found elsewhere, respectively. Purchase protection, on the other hand, covers damage, loss, or theft to anything bought with the card.
Here’s what you can typically expect from a credit card that offers purchase protection:
|Purchase protection questions||Answers|
|What’s covered?||Any eligible purchases that are stolen, or accidentally damaged due to smoke, fire, water, steam, or other act of vandalism.|
|What’s not covered?||Any perishable items, consumables, and other select items aren’t allowed; Items damaged by USPS might not be covered; Leased or rented items are also ineligible for purchase protection.|
|How much is each purchase covered for?||Coverage typically ranges from $500 per item (on average) up to $5,000+ per item for elite cards.|
|Are there annual limits?||Annual coverage limits of $50,000 per account, per year are typical.|
|How long am I protected?||Purchase protection typically ranges from 90 days from the date of purchase to 120 days, depending on your card provider.|
How Does Purchase Protection Work?
The process of filing a purchase protection claim varies from issuer to issuer and from bank to bank. Generally, however, the account holder must provide the following information:
- The credit card statement featuring the purchase in question
- An itemized receipt from the retailer
- Any other relevant documentation, including police reports, claim settlements, or insurance declarations
The first step in the purchase protection process is to report the problem to your credit card company. You can typically report the problem by calling the customer service number on the back of your card or logging into your account online. You’ll need to provide your credit card company with relevant information, including the purchase details and any supporting documentation, such as receipts or shipping information. If necessary, you may also need to submit a police report.
The credit card purchase protection process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks, depending on the nature of your issue and the complexity of the investigation. Once the investigation is complete, your credit card company will determine whether or not you are eligible for purchase protection. If you are, they will work with you to resolve the problem – usually within a month or so.
Which Credit Cards Offer Purchase Protection?
What protections do card issuers offer? Here is how purchase protection benefits break down from the major credit card payment networks. Please note that Discover credit cards do not offer purchase protection. No cards have had this feature since Discover discontinued the program in 2018.
|Cards||Visa Signature & Visa Infinite||Depends on card issuer||All*|
|Protection (per purchase)||Up to $10,000*||Up to $1,000||Up to $10,000*|
|Protection (per year)||Up to $50,000||Up to $50,000||Up to $50,000|
|Reimbursement time||15 days after approval||30 days from approval||30 days from approval|
All American Express credit cards (and charge cards) offer purchase protection. Because Amex is both a card issuer and a payment network, all products feature this security measure.
Amex cardholders have up to 30 days after an incident to claim their purchase protection benefit, but users have protection for up to 90 days after a purchase is made. American Express provides up to $1,000 in coverage per claim, up to a maximum of $50,000 per calendar year, though this may vary depending on the card. The Amex Gold Card provides coverage of up to $10,000 per claim, and $50,000 per year, for example. The program covers theft and damage to items, as well as gifts, provided they were purchased with an eligible American Express card.
Claims with American Express often take around 30 days, with reimbursement for losses also taking roughly the same amount of time. Please note that Amex may not offer coverage for lost items with no explanation, items lost via USPS, or items damaged due to wear and tear.
Mastercard also provides purchase protection, but the cards that feature it depend on the bank that issues the card. The feature is available on World and World Elite Mastercard products. If you are unsure if your Mastercard offers this feature, contact your bank’s customer service hotline.
Cardholders have up to 180 days to file a claim, though protection only extends for the first 120 days after purchase. New York residents only enjoy purchase protection for 90 days from the date they bought an item.
Mastercard offers up to $1,000 in coverage per purchase, up to $50,000 per year. Purchase protection also covers the usual scenarios, such as theft and damage. Gifts are also protected if they were purchased with an eligible World or World Elite Mastercard. Please note that Mastercard may not cover items damaged due to wear and tear, items lost via the USPS, items damaged or lost with no explanation, or computer software.
Visa also offers purchase protection, but only on select cards. Currently, Visa Signature and Visa Infinite credit cards offer this security. Visa Platinum or Traditional Visa cards are excluded. Visa Signature or Infinite cardholders have up to 90 days to claim their purchase protection benefit after an incident.
Visa provides up to $10,000 per claim for Infinite cardholders or $500 for Visa Signature cardholders. The maximum yearly coverage is $50,000 for all claims. Like Amex, Visa covers theft, damage, and gifts if they were bought with an eligible Visa card. Claims are typically resolved within five business days after Visa receives documentation. Please note Visa may not cover items they deem “not kept safe,” items used improperly or not as intended in the directions, or items damaged due to wear and tear.
While Visa limits its purchase protection to Visa Signature and Visa Infinite cardholders, Mastercard provides this benefit only on select cards. Because of this, it is important to carefully read the terms and conditions before applying, to ensure you get the benefits you want in a card. Currently, only American Express and Chase offer purchase protection on most – if not all – of their credit card products.
Related Article: Smart Ways To Manage Your Credit Card