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Purchase protection – Worst and best cards for coverage + why Amex wins

by on Mon April 21, 2014 • 20 Comments


Think your travel rewards card has complete purchase protection to reimburse you in case something you bought recently is lost, damaged, or stolen?

Think again.

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:

  • Lost items. Most cards won’t cover you if you simply misplace or lose an item, but a few will.
  • Accidental breakage. A lot of cards won’t cover if you damage an item by accident like dropping it on the ground, and will only cover things like fire or the pipes in your home bursting.

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…

The best: American Express

  • Accidental breakage: Yes
  • Lost items: Yes (Platinum Card, Delta Reserve Card, Centurion Card)
  • Limits: $10,000 per incident (Platinum Card, Delta Reserve) Card, $1,000 per incident (other cards), up to $50,000 per year
  • Time period: Up to 90 days after purchase

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

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.

You can find out more about American Express benefits guides here.

The rest

The rest of the pack is pretty similar and offers basic purchase protection coverage.

Bank of America, Capital One

  • Accidental breakage: No
  • Lost items: No
  • Limits: $500 per incident up to $50,000 per year
  • Time period: Up to 90 days after purchase

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.


  • Accidental breakage: Yes
  • Lost items: No
  • Limits: $500 per incident up to $50,000 per year
  • Time period: Up to 90 days after purchase

This is pretty standard coverage, nothing special to report either way. You’ll need to contact 1-800-MCASSIST to file claims.


Explorer CardChase 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.


  • Accidental breakage: Yes
  • Lost items: No
  • Limits: $500 per incident up to $50,000 per year, some cards $1,000 per incident (for World Elite MasterCards like the Citi ThankYou Prestige)
  • Time period: Up to 90 days after purchase

To file a claim you can Call 1-800-377-7200, or login to and download a claim form which you then fax in.

What won’t purchase protection cover?

While most cards won’t cover lost items, for incidents of damage or theft these are common purchases that don’t qualify for coverage:

  • Motor vehicles (don’t try buying a car with your credit card and expect purchase protection!)
  • Cash equivalents (mutilated gift cards aren’t covered)
  • Consumables like perfume or wine (broken bottles aren’t reimbursed)

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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20 thoughts on Purchase protection – Worst and best cards for coverage + why Amex wins

  1. Amex User

    I have the Platinum AmEx and also have three children. Best card ever. If I actually had receipts saved for everything they lost I would be filing claims weekly. It’s great to use when buying things for summer camp because they always leave stuff.

    My youngest left his new pair of glasses at Olive Garden – refunded.
    My oldest lost his phone – refunded.
    Something fell out of the back of a truck – refunded.
    Lost a calculator at school – refunded.

    My only complaint is my oldest bought a drone. He saved his money but I said, lets put it on the AmEx just for the protection. It hit a tree and fell to the ground – I wanted them to cover the repairs. Because it was a toy and he was playing with it – “play” is an exclusion and they didn’t cover it. Very unfortunate.

  2. Joseph Accardo

    I purchased a hearing aid for $3000 with my American Express Skymiles. The hearing aid came with a loss coverage warranty with a $400 deductible.

    The hearing aid was lost while on a walk exercise program the same day I received it.
    I made a claim for$400 providing the documentation requested. Today I received a denial of the claim because I did not show proof of loss . How I might do so is not explained.
    Today I also received the replacement hearing aid and paid the $400 deductible with the Skymile card.
    The American Express sales pitch clearly stated that loss would be covered.

    I have paid a fee to have the American Express card sine 1970!!! Never made a claim and paid timely.

    Very misleading ads and business practices.


      @Joseph – Sorry to hear about that. What kind of Delta Amex do you have? The Delta Reserve is the only of the Delta cards we know of that covers lost items.

  3. Chris

    I have read conflicting information on this so maybe someone can clarify. I bought a pair of silver earings for my girlfriend during our vacation. When we returned home I attempted to surprise her with them, but she did not like them at all. I purchased them with my Amex, they were never worn, she hates them, the place were I bought them is far and the lady I bought them for won’t take them back. It’s been 2 weeks now and I’m not sure what to do. I paid $175 for them.

  4. Stephan Gee

    I purchased a macbook pro en eBay listed as new and have receipts and everything (using AMEX not paypal) about a month ago, the price was 1400USD. It was recently stolen and have police report, will AMEX cover me for at least 1000 dollars to replace it? Or will they just deny it since it is over the 1000 limit. Any experiences?


      @Stephan – It should cover up to the limit, but best to call the number on the back of your card to get started and check.

  5. Jack

    My laptop purchased using “Discover it ” credit card on Amazon website 2 weeks back is stolen from my Appartment club house. I lodged a complaint. I hear a lot of -ve and +ve responses online about Discover purchase protection. How likely I’m gonna get the claim processed ??

  6. Mansi Sogani


    I bought an iPhone SE with citibank thankyou preferred credit card 40 days back and yesterday i accidentally dropped it from my hand and it fell on the floor which broke its screen. Do you think citibank will cover the damage?

    Thanks in advance!

  7. Patricia


    I bought an iMac computer with my Bank of America debit card and my car was broken into and it was stolen. Would BOA replace the iMac? Thanks!


      @Patricia – Sorry to hear about that. With a debit card, probably not, but best to call the number on the back of your card to double check. Credit cards are the ones that have more protection.

  8. Easy

    Hi, got a stethoscope using american advantage citi card and it got stolen in metro transit. Do u think it will be covered by citi and what documents do I need. Thanks in advance for guidance.

  9. Andy

    Hi Dear,

    I did bought I phone 6s plus from apple store 7 days back and lost it in NYC subway train. I bought my iPhone in apple store with american express premiere rewards gold card. Are there any chance of getting statement credit with american express purchase protection.
    Please do let me know. Thanks.


      @Andy – It might be covered as a ‘loss’ since you paid for it with the Premier Rewards Card. Give a call to the number on the back of your card and they can walk you through to see if it is covered.

  10. Dillon

    i just purchased brand new macbook from best buy 3 days ago, didn’t purchase the protection plan thinking we wouldn’t need it. well, that back fired. my daughter spilt a drink on my wifes keyboard. will the citibank best buy card cover any of this expanse to get this fixed or no


      @Dillon – If it has purchase protection for damage it should. Best to call the number on the back of your card to check.

  11. Big Andre

    Lets say my brand new phone was damaged by water pretty badly. I have amex and was thinking what would be the best way to tell them about it so i would be reimbursed. do i need to send the the phone, or perhaps a statement from an establishment that specializes that specializes in cell phone repairs.


      @Big Andre – Nothing special – just call the number on the back of your card and they’ll tell you what they need. That could include the original receipt, and proof of loss such as a damage repair estimate.

  12. Avian infra jain md

    We just returned from NYC few days ago and realized that we lost our camera that we bought at best buy in NYC. We think it was lost on American airline flight from NYC to Dallas on January 1st.


      @Dr Jain – Check with American at the Dallas airport lost and found to see if it was recovered – they can be reached at 972-425-2465 or by email at If it’s not found, and you used an American Express Platinum or Delta Reserve card to buy the camera, then you have a chance to file a purchase protection claim, since they cover lost items.


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