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What Is Credit Card Purchase Protection?

credit card purchase protection
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updated: January 31, 2024

Purchase protection is a benefit provided by credit cards to reimburse you if a transaction goes wrong. This can include repairing or replacing a damaged or missing item or even one that doesn’t work as promised. It’s especially valuable today, as so many purchases take place online. It’s hard to know the quality and reputation of a merchant that may be operating in another country. Purchase protection can provide that extra buffer to enable you to go forward with greater confidence.

Most of the best credit cards offer purchase protection. But there are wide differences in the amount provided by each card, and a few cards have none at all.

How to use purchase protection

To get the benefit of purchase protection from a credit card, you must make your purchase using that card. If you did, and something goes wrong, you’ll need to report it within the given time limit. This can be anywhere from 30 to 120 days after purchase.

Purchase protection generally applies when you order an item that is never delivered or arrives damaged, defective, or not complete. To take advantage of it, you’ll need to open a claim with the credit card issuer or its designated coverage provider. This can usually be done online, by phone, or through a mobile app. Once your claim has been filed and successfully resolved, you’ll generally receive reimbursement within 30 to 60 days.

How to claim purchase protection

Filing a claim requires competing and submitting a claim form. You’ll also need to include certain supporting documents. These include the original receipt for the purchase, as well as the credit card statement confirming the purchase was made through that card. If the item was stolen or destroyed by vandalism, you may also be required to submit a police report.

Purchase protection is often considered secondary coverage. For example, if a purchase is lost or damaged due to a car accident or disaster at home, you’ll first be required to file a claim with your car insurance provider or homeowner’s insurance plan. Any unpaid balance can then be submitted under a credit card purchase protection plan claim.

How Visa, Mastercard and American Express purchase protection compare

Features / CardsVisaMastercardAmerican Express
Coverage
Any items purchased entirely with an eligible Visa card
Any items purchased entirely with an eligible Mastercard
Any items purchased entirely with an eligible American Express card
Cards
Classic, Gold, Platinum, Signature, Infinite
As offered by the card issuer
Nearly all American Express cards
Duration
180 days from date of purchase; must be reported within 90 days of the loss
90 days from date of purchase; must be reported within 60 days of the loss
90 days from date of purchase; must be reported within 30 days of the loss
Maximum payout claim
$500 to $10,000
$1,000
$1,000 to $10,000
Maximum payout per year
$1,000 to $20,000
$25,000
$10,000 to $50,000
How long until you get reimbursed
Typically within five business days of approval
N/A
N/A

Visa purchase protection

Visa’s purchase protection plan automatically covers items purchased using the card. Registration of each individual purchase is not required. The plan is available only on Visa cards for which the issuer participates in the plan.

There are five different coverage levels, depending on the type of card you have:

  1. Classic. $500­ to $5,000 per year, as provided by the card issuer.
  2. Gold. Up to $1,000 per item per 12-month period.
  3. Platinum. Up to $5,000 per event; up to $10,000 per 12-month period.
  4. Signature. Up to $5,000 per event; up to $10,000 per 12-month period.
  5. Infinite. Up to $10,000 per event; up to $20,000 per 12-month period.

You can file a claim through the Visa Benefits Portal. You’ll need to include the purchase invoice, as well as the Visa card account statement that shows the item was purchased using the card. Only the cardholder is allowed to open a claim, and it must be reported within 90 days of the incident occurrence.

Mastercard purchase protection

Mastercard’s purchase protection plan is referred to as “Mastercard Assurance.” Eligibility for the plan is decided entirely by the credit card issuer and not by any certain type of Mastercard issued. The program has limits of $1,000 per individual item and up to $25,000 per 12-month period.

You can file a claim by calling 800-627-8372 (800-MASTERC) to request a claim form. The claim must be reported within 60 days of the loss. Along with the completed claim form, you must provide a repair estimate for damaged items, as well as photographs showing the damage. You must also furnish the purchase receipt of the item and a police report, if the item in question was stolen.

American Express purchase protection

American Express offers the most generous purchase protection plan, at least on an annual basis. You can be covered for up to $50,000.

Most American Express cards provide coverage of up to $1,000 per incident, though some premium cards pay up to $10,000 per incident. Examples of premium cards are the Platinum Card®, Gold Card, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Card, Hilton Aspire Card, and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant ™.

You can file a claim online or by calling 800-322-1277. The claim must be filed within 30 days of the loss experience. You’ll need to provide the original store receipt or an online receipt printout. If an item was stolen, you must include a police report. If it was damaged, you may need to send the item in for review.

Which are the best credit cards offering purchase protection?

CardLate payment feesRegular APRAnnual feesCredit score needed
Up to $500 for up to 90 days
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
Not offered
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
Up to $500 per item, $50,000 per account, for up to 120 days
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
Up to $500 per item, $50,000 per account, for up to 120 days
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
Up to $500 per item, $50,000 per account, for up to 120 days
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
Up to $1,000 per covered purchase, $50,000 per eligible account, for up to 90 days
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
annual_fees
credit_score_needed
Up to $500 per item, $50,000 per account, for up to 120 days
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
annual_fees
credit_score_needed

*According to Experian, the largest credit bureau, the credit score ranges are as follows: “exceptional” (800 to 850), “very good” (740 to 799), “good” (670­ to 739), “fair” (580 to 699), and “poor” (300 to 579). However, the descriptive terms may apply to different credit score ranges as determined by the card-issuing bank.

card_name

card_name

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus
bonus_miles
Annual fees
annual_fees
APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Credit score
credit_score_needed
Rewards:
You get unlimited 5x miles on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel and unlimited 2x miles on all other purchases.
bonus_miles_full

With the card_name you can accumulate miles in a hurry, with 75,000 bonus miles up front and unlimited miles for travel and all other purchases. This card is designed for frequent travelers.

The card packs plenty of other benefits, including no foreign transaction fees, a credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, auto rental collision damage waiver, travel accident insurance, and the ability to transfer your miles to more than 15 travel loyalty programs.

card_name

card_name

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Bonus
bonus_miles
Annual fees
annual_fees
APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Credit score
credit_score_needed
Rewards:
You get 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases; 5% cash back on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel; unlimited 4% cash back on dining, entertainment, and popular streaming services; 3% at grocery stores; and 1% on all other purchases.
bonus_miles_full

The card_name is Capital One’s credit card for spending on entertainment and dining. The card also has plenty of other benefits for travel, such as 5% cash back on car rentals and hotels booked through Capital One Travel, no foreign transaction fees, and travel accident insurance.

card_name

card_name

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full

This card's generous benefits and flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points make it an excellent deal for those who can use them. Users get a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership (retail value $469), a $300 annual travel credit that applies to travel purchases each year, 50% more value when redeeming their rewards for travel through Chase, a fee credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership, and a generous suite of travel insurance benefits.

Introductory Offer:

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening and redeem them through ChaseTravel℠ for $900 toward travel.

Card Rewards:

  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually.
  • Earn 3x points on other travel and dining, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Additional Benefits:

  • Annual Travel Credit: Receive $300 as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem points for travel through Chase Travel℠. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel.
  • Point Transfer: 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs.
  • Airport Lounge Access: Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after a one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®.
  • Travel Protections: Includes Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance, and more.

Member FDIC

Another top travel card, the card_name offers the greatest points rewards when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Other travel benefits include up to $100 every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, travel protection benefits, no foreign transaction fees, no blackout dates or travel restrictions, and 1:1 points transfers to popular airline and hotel loyalty programs.

card_name

card_name

United Club℠ Infinite Card

United Club℠ Infinite Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full
The card_name is geared to United Airlines frequent flyers who want lounge access since it automatically comes with a United Club membership (valued at $650). Cardholders also earn a lucrative rewards rate in several different categories—all while enjoying frequent flyer benefits when they fly with the airline.

If you’re a frequent flier with United Airlines, the card_name is an excellent credit card to have. Not only will you get the sign-up bonus and all the rewards described above; you’ll also enjoy United Club membership, your first and second bags checked free for you and a companion, up to $100 every four years for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, no foreign transaction fees, and much more.

card_name

card_name

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Credit score
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Welcome offer
bonus_miles_full

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a solid flat-rate earnings card with annual_fee_disclaimer annual fee. Although the 1.5% cash back doesn’t seem impressive at first glance, it becomes more valuable when combined with other rewards cards from Chase that can be redeemed for a far greater value.

This card is recommended for everyday use, whether for doctor copays or big box store purchases. It can be a large earner for cardmembers who want to get the most out of their everyday spending.

Introductory Offer:

  • Earn an extra 1.5% cash back on all purchases (up to $20,000 spent in the first year), which can add up to $300 in cash back!
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.

Intro Card Rewards:

  • 6.5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Travel℠, our top-tier rewards program where you can redeem for cash back, travel, gift cards, and more.
  • 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.
  • 3% cash back on all other purchases (up to $20,000 spent in the first year).

After the First Year or $20,000 Spent Card Rewards:

  • 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase Travel℠.
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Additional Benefits:

  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Choose a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards never expire as long as your account is open!
  • No annual fee – Enjoy all the great features of your Freedom Unlimited® card without paying an annual fee.
  • Credit Monitoring – Keep track of your credit health with Chase Credit Journey, offering free access to your latest score, alerts, and more.

Member FDIC

  • Balance transfer fee: balance_transfer_fees
  • Cash advance fee: cash_advance_fee
  • Foreign transaction fee: foreign_transaction_fee

card_name is a solid choice if you have good credit and want a rewards card with plenty of benefits. The $200 sign-up bonus is easy to qualify for, requiring just $500 in purchases within the first three months of opening your account. There are also plenty of opportunities to earn high cash back, and there is no annual fee to reduce those benefits.

This card also comes with a intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration when the account is open, after which it will revert to the standard APR of reg_apr,reg_apr_type. The card does have a foreign transaction fee of foreign_transaction_fee.

card_name

card_name

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Bonus
bonus_miles
Annual fees
annual_fees
APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Credit score
credit_score_needed
Rewards:
You get 6% cash back on up to $6,000 in grocery purchases per year, 6% on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% on gasoline and transit, and 1% on all other purchases. Terms apply.
bonus_miles_full

card_name offers generous cash back rewards on everyday purchases, such as groceries, streaming subscriptions, gasoline, and transit. This can make it the perfect general-purpose rewards credit card.

The card has a intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration (but not balance transfers) before the regular APR will apply. There’s a foreign transaction fee of foreign_transaction_fee (Rates & Fees). The card’s Plan It® benefit allows you to split purchases of $100 or more into monthly installments with a fixed fee.

card_name

card_name

Ink Business Cash® Card

Ink Business Cash® Card

Credit score needed
credit_score_needed
Annual fees
annual_fees
Intro APR
intro_apr_rate,intro_apr_duration
Bonus rewards
bonus_miles

The card_name is among the most powerful earners in the rewards credit card market. Its spending bonuses are generous, and its massive welcome bonus after meeting minimum spending requirements should be reason enough to at least try the card out for a year or two.

Introductory Offer:

  • Earn $350 when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months, and an additional $400 when you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months after account opening.
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases

Card Rewards:

  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Additional Benefits:

  • Business Relationship Bonus: Receive a 10% bonus if you have the Ink Business Cash card plus a Chase Business Checking account on your first card anniversary.
  • Zero Liability: You won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges made with your card or account information.
  • Annual Fee: None.
  • Redeem rewards for cash back, gift cards, travel, and more through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Member FDIC

  • Balance transfer fee: balance_transfer_fees
  • Cash advance fee: cash_advance_fee
  • Foreign transaction fee: foreign_transaction_fee

card_name is designed specifically for business customers. In addition to the generous bonus cash back and rewards, you can also include employee cards at no additional cost. When your employees use the card to make purchases, you’ll earn additional rewards. You can also take advantage of the account management feature to track expenses and stay up to date with tax reporting. The system even integrates with popular bookkeeping software.

Alternatives to credit cards for purchase protection

If you don’t have a credit card offering purchase protection or prefer to avoid using a credit card that does, there are viable alternatives.

PayPal

PayPal is a popular online payment service that has been operating for over 20 years. It can be used to make purchases, receive payments, send payments, and pay bills. One of the major advantages is that you can conduct international transactions in a matter of minutes, as if national borders didn’t exist.

Not only can you send money securely in the U.S. and internationally; you can also use the service to make payments almost anywhere you shop. It even provides a debit card with 1% cash back rewards. In addition, the company now offers the new PayPal Cashback MasterCard®, which you can use to earn unlimited 3% cash back on PayPal purchases, and unlimited 2% on all other eligible purchases.

PayPal provides multiple layers of consumer security. For example, when you transact business using your PayPal account, the company does not share your full financial information with the other party. This prevents unintended third parties from using your account information for fraudulent purchases. You can conduct transactions through your PayPal account or a linked bank account or credit card.

Meanwhile, PayPal purchase protection covers items bought through PayPal. You’ll be covered if an item isn’t received, is damaged or missing parts, is in any way deficient, or if the wrong item arrives. You’ll need to report any of these events within 60 days to receive the protection.

Venmo

Venmo is yet another popular online payment app, one increasingly connected to popular banks. Much like PayPal and Cash App, it gives you the ability to send or receive money and make purchases without disclosing information from your bank account or credit cards. It even offers the Venmo Credit Card, with which you can earn up to 3% cash back.

As Venmo is a part of PayPal, it offers a similar capability. You can transact business more anonymously through your bank account or credit card. While you’re making purchases, you won’t even need to enter a bank account or credit card number. You can pay with Venmo and no information will be shared.

Venmo does offer purchase protection. It will cover you if merchandise is not delivered, arrives damaged, or is the wrong item. You’ll be reimbursed for qualifying purchases made through the app, plus original shipping costs. Like other purchase protection plans, your purchases are protected only if they are made through Venmo.

Cash App

Cash App is another online payment app. It doesn’t provide purchase protection, but does offer the ability to make purchases and spend and receive cash without providing access to account information for your bank or credit cards. Cash App supports Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover credit cards, as well as debit cards.

With Cash App, you can send or receive money, stocks, or even bitcoin free of charge. You can also get exclusive discounts using either Cash App Pay or the Cash App Cash Card. In addition, you can take advantage of banking services through Cash App’s bank partner, Sutton Bank. Cash App even enables you to invest in stocks and cryptocurrencies. When tax time comes around, you can file your return for free through the app.

TIME Stamp: These days purchase protection matters

It may be easy to dismiss purchase protection as just another benefit with a credit card or payment app. However, in today’s world, where so many transactions take place online with people you’ll never meet, the potential for loss may be greater than at any other time in history.

You certainly shouldn’t choose a credit card or payment app based on the quality of its purchase protection plan. Still, if there’s a choice between two good credit cards (or payment apps), and one has purchase protection while the other doesn’t, choose the card or app that includes it.

If you make a lot of online purchases—especially big-ticket ones—purchase protection may be one of the most important features with a card or app. If nothing else, a good purchase protection plan will give you the confidence to transact business while knowing the card issuer has your back.

For rates and fees of the card_name, please visit this URL.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is credit card purchase protection?

Purchase protection from a credit card is intended to protect you if something goes awry with a purchase you make on the card. This can include receiving a damaged item, an incorrect or incomplete item, and not getting the item at all. It may even cover an item that does not perform as advertised.

Do all credit cards offer purchase protection?

No, but the majority of cards do. How much, however, varies widely from card to card. It’s always wise to read the fine print before deciding on a credit card.

How much will I pay for credit card purchase protection?

Usually, you will pay nothing for purchase protection. It comes included in the terms and conditions of your credit card and is intended to incentivize card use.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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