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Credit Card Purchase Protection: Everything You Need to Know

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.

How Do You Use Purchase Protection?

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

What Credit Cards Offer Purchase Protection?

What protections do card issuers offer? Here is how purchase protection breaks down from the major credit card payment networks:

Discover

Discover credit cards do not offer purchase protection. No cards have had this feature since Discover discontinued the program in 2018.

American Express

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.

How long does Amex purchase protection last?

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.

What does Amex purchase protection cover?

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.

Visa

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.

How long does Visa purchase protection last?

Visa Signature or Infinite cardholders have up to 90 days to claim their purchase protection benefit after an incident.

What does Visa purchase protection cover?

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 with five business days after Visa receives documentation.

Mastercard

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.

How long does Mastercard purchase protection last?

Cardholders have up to 180 days to file a claim, though protection only extends for the first 120 days after a purchase. New York residents only enjoy purchase protection for 90 days from the date they bought an item.

What does Mastercard purchase protection cover?

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.

What Doesn’t Purchase Protection Cover?

While purchase protection covers many instances of damage or theft, it doesn’t cover everything. The following scenarios are not eligible for purchase protection:

Amex

  • Lost items with no explanation
  • Lost items through USPS
  • Wear and tear

Visa

  • Items not kept safe
  • Items used improperly or not as intended
  • Wear and tear

Mastercard

  • Computer software
  • Lost items with no explanation
  • Lost items through USPS
  • Wear and tear

Related Article: Can Your Credit Card Company Reverse Payments?

About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is BestCards.com's "Jack of all trades" and resident rewards expert, covering all facets of the points game – especially travel, hotels, and airlines. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.