Understanding Credit Card Purchase Protection

Written By
Julija A.
Updated
May 18,2022

There are various types of credit card protection, depending on the card network and the issuer. Purchase protection is a specific benefit that protects you against the loss or theft of goods you buy on your credit card for a limited time. 

Do not confuse purchase protection with credit card purchase protection. They refer to different things, as we will explain below. 

What is Purchase Protection?

Purchase protection, also called “damage protection,” is a credit card perk that insures you against accidental damage or theft of your goods for a pre-specified time. The duration and protection amount vary from issuer to issuer, so you will need to check the policy before you sign up. 

Most credit card protection schemes last 90 to 120 days after your purchase. With it, you get peace of mind, just as you may with conventional insurance. If you want permanent or long-term cover on an item you buy, you’ll need to take out a separate policy.

What Does Credit Card Purchase Protection Cover?

Credit card purchase protection covers you against the majority of purchases, but not all. In general, the following items are not eligible: 

  • Tickets
  • Perishable items, such as food and drink
  • Gift cards
  • Services
  • Vehicles

Vehicles don’t come with credit card coverage because owners must take out separate policies. 

Fortunately, there are many items that credit card issuers will gladly cover, such as homewares, electronics, and clothing. Some credit card companies also insure personal care items, such as make-up, body washes, baby powder, perfume, and razors.

To use your credit card purchase protection policy, you will first need to file a police report. For this, it helps if you have the original receipt for the item and a credit card statement proving that you made the purchase. With these documents in hand, you can begin the claims process. 

Please note that most credit card companies won’t cover “mysterious disappearances” unless you can prove that a “wrongful act” took place (such as someone breaking into your home and damaging the locks.) If you misplace an item and can’t find it, you will need to replace it yourself. 

How Purchase Protection Programs Work

Before you begin the claim filing process, request a copy of your issuers’ card benefits document and find out what they offer specifically. While card networks, such as MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, do offer some protection, policies can vary from provider to provider and card to card.

Find out precisely what’s covered and what’s not, along with the filing process. Each card issuer follows a different policy, but you should ideally collect the following information: 

  • The time you have to make a claim after you accidentally break your item or notice that it has been stolen,
  • Who’s covered when using your card,
  • Which transactions purchase protection applies to,
  • The dollar limit per claim.

Purchase protection rarely lasts more than four months, and there may be dollar limits per claim. You might not be able to recoup the item’s full value even if you do have a successful claim. 

How you file a purchase protection policy claim depends on your issuer and network. As stated above, you’ll need all of the relevant documents, including an itemized store receipt, credit card statement showing that the transaction took place on your account, and policy documentation proving that you do indeed have coverage for the item. If you believe the item was stolen, you’ll also need to provide a police report.

You should start the claims process as soon as you can after you notice that the item is damaged, stolen, or defective in any way. To begin, turn your credit card over and look at the back for the number to call. Most issuers place this close to the signature line. Alternatively, you can search online, either for chat facilities or a claim form that you can sign and submit digitally. 

Once you have a form, either in your hand or online, complete and then submit it by sending it to the claims address or hitting the “send” button on the issuer’s claims wizard.

Purchase Protection Options Across Different Payment Processing Networks 

Not all payment processing networks offer the same degree of purchase protection. How much you get and what's covered varies from provider to provider.

Network Purchase Protection Comparison Chart

   

MasterCard

Visa

American Express

Per item coverage amount

 

$1,000 per claim

$500 per claim

$1,000 per claim

Coverage

 

Theft and damage

Theft and damage

Theft and damage

Policy duration

 

120 days except for NY residents (90 days)

90 days

Up to 120 days, depending on the card

Gifts coverage

 

Yes, provided you purchased them on an eligible card

Yes, provided you purchased them on an eligible card

Yes, provided you purchased them on an eligible card

Cards covered

 

World and World Elite MasterCards

Visa signature cards

Most Amex cards

Coverage per calendar year

 

$50,000 per cardholder

$50,000 per cardholder

$50,000 per cardholder

The list of purchase protection benefits is considerable, but the amount of coverage per individual item is often quite limited. For instance, if you buy socks on your card, that purchase will likely come with purchase protection. However, if you buy an expensive piece of jewelry that is later stolen, you may not be able to recoup all of your funds.

Purchase Protection Options Across Different Credit Card Issuers

As you will see from the table below, the level of protection that issuers offer also varies greatly. Some, such as Barclays and Citi, don’t offer any protection, while others, such as Bank of America, are exceedingly generous.

Issuer Purchase Protection Comparison Chart

Issuer

Purchase protection?

Purchase protection limit

Card name(s)

Bank Of America

Yes, on selected cards

Up to $10,000 per claim within 90 days

Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card

Capital One

Yes, on selected cards

Up to $1,000 per claim within 90 days

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Chase

Yes, on all cards

Up to $10,000 per claim within 120 days

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, United Club℠ Infinite Card

Citi 

No

-

-

Barclays

No

-

-

Wells Fargo

Yes, on selected cards

Up to $500 per claim within 90 days

Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card 

What Is Payment Protection?

Payment and purchase protection are not the same. With payment protection, you pay a small insurance premium today in exchange for being forgiven credit card fees in the future, should you encounter a qualifying crisis, such as job loss or illness. 

Payment protection benefits include suspension of credit card fees and payments for between 12 and 24 months, no deterioration in your credit score with credit card bureaus, and the ability to make minimum payments for an extended period. 

In some cases, it is safe to avoid insurance because the rewards are smaller than the risks. While allocating $1 out of every $100 you spend to payment protection might not sound like much, it quickly adds up over the years. 

Furthermore, many credit card companies will sympathize with you even if you don’t have cover if you’ve fallen on hard times. Some are willing to cancel or defer payments as long as you call your issuer and explain the situation. While the benefits might not be as generous compared to getting complete payment protection, they could give you the time you need to consolidate your finances.

Wrapping Up

Credit card safety provides consumers with insurance that protects them from low-probability but high-cost financial losses. In a nutshell - that’s what credit card protection offers. 

However, as we have seen in this article, there are many different types of purchase protection. Some offer high protection limits, while others are more conservative. A few don’t even offer any purchase protection at all. 

Whether you need purchase protection on your card is entirely up to you. However, if an issuer offers it as a perk at the same price as a rival who doesn’t, it makes sense to consider it.

FAQ

What is payment protection on a credit card?

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Purchase protection and payment protection are not the same. Payment protection lets you pause your card’s minimum fees during particular life events, such as job loss or disability, while remaining in good standing with credit card providers.

Do credit cards provide protection?

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Credit cards provide users with a variety of protection types, including purchase protection, payment protection, and extended warranty protection. All these credit card protection types work differently. Purchase protection protects users from losses against theft and damage after they purchase goods, while extended warranty protection extends the period in which you can return a defective item and get a replacement for it.

What is the best way to protect your credit card?

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You can keep your credit card safe by keeping your account number private, maintaining all your information and keeping it up to date, protecting yourself online, checking your account often for any unauthorized transactions, and immediately reporting any lost and stolen cards.

About author

Albert Einstein is said to have identified compound interest as mankind’s greatest invention. That story’s probably apocryphal, but it conveys a deep truth about the power of fiscal policy to change the world along with our daily lives. Civilization became possible only when Sumerians of the Bronze Age invented money. Today, economic issues influence every aspect of daily life. My job at Fortunly is an opportunity to analyze government policies and banking practices, sharing the results of my research in articles that can help you make better, smarter decisions for yourself and your family.

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