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Think your travel rewards card has complete purchase protection to reimburse you in case something you bought recently is lost, damaged, or stolen?
Although we’ve all seen the ads over the years talking about the protection benefits you get by using premium credit cards, the benefits for purchase protection, which reimburses you for accidents warranties don’t cover, vary widely.
The key differences are around:
Always check with your card issuer before relying on protection benefits, as terms and coverage can change at any time. But here’s our rundown of what you can expect…
American Express is the gold standard when it comes to purchase protection benefits, partly because it invented the concept. Filing claims is easy, as they’re one of the few providers that lets you do it all online and you can track the process via AmericanExpress.com/onlineclaim/.
Users of Amex cards are happy with the service. Amex usually requires less documentation than other card providers and seems to be more likely to process a claim quickly in the form of statement credit. That’s because Amex itself handles the coverage, while other banks outsource their benefits coverage to third parties.
Damage from things like accidentally dropping your new phone are common and often covered by American Express. Just be aware that if you bought a phone through a promo with your carrier they won’t pay for the replacement, they’ll just cover what you spent, so if your phone was ‘free’ with your mobile carrier’s contract you will be out of luck.
But less well known is that Amex has some of the few cards that let you file claims for items you simply lose. That’s a perk reserved for high end cards like The Platinum Card and Delta Reserve Card, which both carry $450 annual fees.
For example, let’s say you leave a new suit you bought behind in a hotel room and the hotel can’t find it. American Express can reimburse you the cost of the suit if you hold The Platinum Card, Delta Reserve Card, or Centurion Card. No other cards can do this.
The rest of the pack is pretty similar and offers basic purchase protection coverage.
Bank of America, Capital One
These are among the worst for purchase protection coverage, with the bare minimum on their travel rewards cards. They offer $500 in coverage per claim, but won’t protect against accidental breakage like dropping your phone. That means you’re only protected against theft or events like a fire, plumbing break, or some weather events, which are things your homeowners or renters insurance probably already cover.
This is pretty standard coverage, nothing special to report either way. You’ll need to contact 1-800-MCASSIST to file claims.
Chase differentiates on the length of coverage. With most Chase premium cards you have 120 days after your purchase worth of coverage, versus 90 days with cards from other banks.
In addition some of its cards offer more than the basic $500 per claim coverage, but none of them will cover lost items like the high end American Express cards will.
Chase makes you call its benefits administrator, which is a third party, to file a claim, so it’s a more cumbersome process than American Express which lets you handle it all online.
To file a claim you can Call 1-800-377-7200, or login to benefitbuilder.citi.com and download a claim form which you then fax in.
While most cards won’t cover lost items, for incidents of damage or theft these are common purchases that don’t qualify for coverage:
For all cards, the coverage is secondary to any homeowners’ or renters insurance you have, though that generally only matters when the damage is something a homeowners policy covers, like a pipe burst or fire. Run of the mill damage like dropping an item is generally covered by the credit card if it’s a card that has accidental breakage coverage.
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