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What Is Credit Card Purchase Protection?

Last updated 03/18/2024 by

Heather Popovic
Making purchases from the comfort of home is convenient, but makes it hard for you to address unexpected issues directly with the seller. Without a physical location to hold accountable for shipping errors or broken product, how can you keep from getting ripped off? What can you do if a vendor disappears when you reach out and ask for help?
Fortunately, there’s a lesser-known credit card perk designed to remedy this issue. If you do your online shopping with your credit card, rather than your debit card, you can have access to purchase protection.

What is purchase protection?

Purchase protection repairs or replaces the items you buy with a credit card if it’s stolen or damaged.
But what is purchase protection? How does it work? And which credit cards offer it? This guide will answer all your questions about credit card purchase protection.

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What is credit card purchase protection?

Purchase protection offers replacement or reimbursement when a customer is faced with theft or accidental damage to a purchase. How much money the credit card company will reimburse and how long after your purchase you can leverage purchase protection varies for different credit cards.
Some cards offer better coverage than others, and some don’t offer this type of protection at all. How can you take advantage of this excellent credit card perk? And which companies offer the best coverage?

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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How purchase protection works

There are time limitations for purchase protection claims. For example, Mastercard offers protection for 120 days after the purchase date (with the exception of a 90-day cap for New York customers). On average, though, credit card companies will cover purchase protection for 90 days after the purchase.
There is also a limit on how long you have to file a claim after an event. Here are the time limits for three of the largest credit card networks:

How long do you have to file a purchase protection claim?

  • American Express: 30 days.
  • Mastercard: 180 days.
  • Visa: 120 days (with 90 days to report an incident before filing).
Purchase protection is often secondary to your insurance coverage. For example, if your homeowner’s insurance or auto insurance also covers a given stolen or damaged item, you should start these claims first. In these cases, a police report will also be required.
However, coverage criteria varies by card issuers. Check with your credit card company for more details.

Credit cards will typically not offer purchase protection for:

  • Consumables.
  • Collectibles.
  • Perishables.
  • Car repairs.
  • Software.
  • Pets.
  • Gift cards.
  • Software.
  • Event tickets.
  • Antiques.
You’ll need to check with your credit card issuer for specific coverage criteria. However, most cards exclusions include car repairs, software, antiques, pets, and gift cards.
Jewelry and items stolen from a personal vehicle are covered by some cards, but not all.
When a claim involves a damaged item, the reason for the damage matters. If the cause of the damage was a power surge, for example, most card policies won’t cover the loss. Normal wear and tear also aren’t covered.

Which credit cards offer purchase protection?

Purchase protection varies based on the card you’re using, even within a single credit card network. VISA Signature cards, for example, covers up to $500 for purchases, whereas VISA Infinite cards cover up to $10,000.

Only 4 of the large credit card issuers offer purchase protection for all of their cards. Those issuers are:

  1. Citi.
  2. Chase.
  3. Barclays.
  4. American Express.
The Gold Card by American Express offers excellent coverage, with a cap of $10,000 in purchase protection per eligible claim. The maximum coverage per year is $50,000.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is another winner when it comes to purchase protection. They allow 120 days to file a claim and typically pay out approved reimbursements within 5 business days. This is considerably faster than the 30-day turn around offered by American Express.
Popular credit cards that do not offer purchase protection include:

How to file a purchase protection claim

File your claim for a stolen or damaged item as soon after the event as possible. Customers submitting a claim for a damaged item may be required to return the item to the seller before reimbursement. So don’t throw it away!
As mentioned above, when reporting the theft of an item, a police report will be necessary. Misplaced items do not qualify for purchase protection reimbursement.
This is some of the documentation you’ll need to have on hand when filing your claim:
  1. Credit card statement listing the purchased item.
  2. Original purchase receipt.
  3. Insurance claim (if applicable).
  4. Insurance Declaration page (if applicable).
  5. Police report (if applicable).
To file a claim, customers can call their credit card issuer directly using the number on the back of their card. Alternatively, credit card companies provide online claim forms on their websites.

Getting started

Here at SuperMoney, our goal is to help customers through the process of choosing the credit card with features that benefit them the most. Among the extensive list of personal credit card reviews on our site, we include many that offer excellent purchase protection.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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