What is purchase protection?
Purchase protection is a credit card insurance benefit that insures things you buy against damage or theft for some period after you purchase the item. A credit card that offers purchase protection will typically cover new items you buy for 90-120 days after you purchase them.
What does purchase protection cover?
Generally, purchase protection does not protect you against loss of items, but some policies may cover “involuntary and accidental parting.” Involuntary and accidental parting usually means that you’ve been separated from your items, and you know where they are, but retrieving them is impractical.
Every purchase protection policy will have terms and exclusions. Purchase protection policies commonly exclude things like plants, food, cash equivalents, and items meant for commercial use.
Comparing purchase protection plans
Not all purchase protection offered by credit cards is the same. If you’re shopping for a card specifically for purchase protection or are selecting a card for an important purchase, here are the terms you’ll want to look for and compare.
Coverage period – Your plan will only cover new purchases for a certain amount of time from the date of purchase. 90 to 120 days is a typical coverage period.
Per item/per claim limit – Your purchase protection benefit will have a per item or per claim limit. When you submit a purchase protection claim, this is the maximum amount that your benefit will pay for any given item. The amount of this varies widely. Some policies will only cover a few hundred dollars per claim, but some policies may cover $10,000 items or more.
Per year or per account limit – Your guide to benefits will also provide a limit per year or per account. This is the limit on the total purchase protection claims that the benefit will pay across all claims. A per year limit typically resets on the calendar year. A per account limit typically lasts for the life of the account. These limits are typically high. $50,000 per year or per account is common.
Limitations and exclusions
Every purchase protection benefit will provide a list of excluded items in your guide to benefits. Here are some examples of items that are typically excluded, but check your guide to benefits for specific exclusions.
- Animals and living plants
- Antiques and collectibles
- Automobiles, boats, aircraft and motorized vehicles
- Cash-equivalents like cash, checks, travelers checks, tickets, and prepaid debit cards
- Firearms, weapons, and ammunition
- Items purchased for resale
- Items under control of a common carrier (items being shipped)
- Perishable and consumable items like food, batteries, and cosmetics
- Used items
How to file a claim
If you need to file a claim, you will usually need to work with a benefit administrator, rather than your credit card customer service, to initiate a claim. You’ll want to file a claim promptly, because delaying a claim can result in your claim being denied. How to file a claim will be detailed in your card’s guide to benefits. Your credit card customer service should also be able to provide you contact information for your benefit administrator. Here are the websites where you can begin your claim for some popular card issuers:
- American Express – https://www.americanexpress.com/onlineclaim
- Chase cards – https://www.eclaimsline.com/
- Wells Fargo – 1-800-316-8051 – https://mycardbenefits.assurant.com
Once you’ve started your claim, you may need to complete and return a claim form. You’ll probably also be asked to provide documentation to back up your claim. This documentation varies by claim, but could include things like the following:
- Credit card statement showing the purchase
- Itemized store receipt
- Repair bill or estimate if the item is to be repaired
- Police report if the item was stolen
After you’ve provided the requested documentation, a the benefit administrator will review your claim. You might be asked to provide additional documentation. If you’re claiming a damaged item, you might be asked to return that item to the benefit administrator.
If all goes well, your claim will be approved and you’ll get a decision on your claim. Claims are generally paid as a statement credit to your credit card, but it’s not unheard of for a claim to be paid by check.
Cards that offer purchase protection
Many cards offer purchase protection. In fact, there’s a good chance that a card you already have in your wallet offers purchase protection, but here are a few of our favorite cards that offer purchase protection.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® – Purchase protection for 120 days
We like the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s purchase protection because it offers protection for 120 days from the date of purchase. The per-claim limit ($500) is on the low side, but the card is a good choice for getting purchase protection on smaller purchases.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers cardmembers 1.5% rewards on all purchases. It is the essential “everywhere else card” in the Chase Ultimate Rewards® ecosystem.
Although the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is marketed as a “1.5% everywhere” card, it offers plenty of bonus spending categories. You get 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining at restaurants including eligible takeout and delivery, and 3% on drugstore purchases. Although rewards are marketed as cash back, the card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points behind the scenes, which can be transferred to a premium Ultimate Rewards® card and redeemed for greater value.
For a card with no annual fee, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® comes with a healthy set of benefits, including purchase protection, extended warranty, secondary auto rental collision damage waiver insurance, and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
Learn more and apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express – $1,000 of protection for 90 days
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is the upgraded version of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, offering increased rewards on purchases at U.S. supermarkets, select U.S. streaming subscriptions, and U.S. gas stations. It comes with a $0 introductory fee for the first year, then $95/year. (Terms apply. See Rates and Fees)
The card offers 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, plus 6% back on a long list of streaming providers. The card earns unlimited 3% cash back on U.S. gas stations and on transit. Other eligible purchases earn 1% cash back.
The Blue Cash Preferred® can be a great choice to use for retail purchases, as it offers the trifecta of retail insurance benefits: Purchase protection, return protection, and extended warranty. Terms apply to all benefits.
Our take on the welcome bonus: American Express doesn’t often offer an increased welcome bonus on this card. If you plan on getting this card, there is no reason to wait.
The link above is our affiliate link. We always show you the best offer, and this is the best offer we know about on this card.
Annual fee: $0 intro fee for the first year, then $95.
Rewards: 6% at U.S. supermarket on $6k per year, then 1%; 6% on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3% at U.S. gas stations and on transit; 1% on other eligible purchases.
Frequently asked questions
Review your card’s guide to benefits to see if your card offers purchase protection. You can often find your guide to benefits on your card issuer’s website or get a copy by calling customer service.
Typically not. Credit card coverages usually exclude losing or misplacing an item.