What Is Credit Card Purchase Protection?

Young woman using credit card and mobile phone to shop online, using purchase protection

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If a package is stolen from your front porch, or you purchase an item that breaks as soon as you use it, you could unfortunately be stuck with the bill.

But certain credit cards offer a benefit that protects you against having to eat the cost. Credit cards with purchase protection can help you get your money back, or get a replacement, if your purchase ends up damaged or stolen.

How Does Purchase Protection Work?

If your credit card comes with purchase protection, you may be eligible for repair, replacement or reimbursement of lost or stolen items that you purchased with the card.

Coverage varies a lot between card issuers and specific cards, but generally it includes new items that are damaged, defective or stolen within 60 to 120 days of your purchase. Used items and objects that can expire, like antiques or batteries, are not generally eligible.

Purchase protection is secondary coverage, meaning it can only be used after you've exhausted all of the other coverage you have available. That could include renters insurance, homeowners insurance, car insurance and any reimbursement available from the vendor.

To take advantage of purchase protection, make sure you made your purchase with an eligible credit card. If you need to file a claim, you'll have to contact the creditor and file within a set timeline. You may also need to submit additional documentation, like receipts, photos of the damaged item or a police report for items that were stolen.

Who Offers Purchase Protection?

Purchase protection may be offered as a benefit through your credit card network, such as Visa or Mastercard. The amount of coverage for each card can vary, and certain credit cards may even be excluded, but here's what's generally available from major networks.

Purchase Protection by Credit Card Network
American ExpressDiscoverMastercardVisa
Which Cards Are Covered?MostNoneSomeMost
Duration of Coverage90 daysN/A90 days180 days
Coverage Limit
Per Incident
$1,000N/AVaries$1,000 to $10,000
Coverage Limit
Per Year
$50,000N/AVaries$1,000 to $20,000

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Choosing Your Next Credit Card

When you're shopping for your next credit card, check and see if purchase protection and other benefits are available. Just like rates and fees, benefits will vary from one card to the next. Note that credit cards with lots of rewards and benefits usually require higher credit scores.

Not sure what your score is? Take a look at your free credit score and report from Experian before applying. Most applications for a new credit card can cost your credit scores a few points, but you can limit the impact by comparing card features using comparison tools like Experian's CreditMatch™ before you start applying.