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Today, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Jason Steele looks at some unheralded but highly useful credit card benefits that can help you feel confident about your next big purchase.
When deciding which travel rewards card to use for large purchases, it’s important to look beyond the points and miles you earn. Card issuers strive to set their products apart from the competition by offering incentives like spending bonuses, but the less flashy benefits can sometimes end up being the most helpful. In this post I’ll look at three different shopping protection policies offered by the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card, and explain how you can leverage these benefits to save money.
This policy covers eligible purchases (made with your Premier Rewards Gold card) against accidental damage or theft within 90 days of purchase. You do not have to register your purchases, and the coverage is included for all card members.
The following purchases are ineligible for coverage:
- Tickets of any kind
- Negotiable instruments including travelers checks and gift cards
- Animals or living plants
- Rare stamps and coins
- Consumable or perishable items such as perfume, light bulbs and batteries
- Antiques or any previously owned items
- Motorized vehicles, parts and accessories
- Anything purchased for resale or commercial use
- Household items such as carpet, flooring, air conditioners and refrigerators
- Medical or dental equipment or devices
Other exclusions include damage related to natural disasters, riots, illegal activity, service in the military, normal wear and tear, or just losing or misplacing the purchase (although the similar policy for the American Express Platinum card does cover items that are just lost). This policy is limited to $1,000 per covered incident, and up to $50,000 per year, and reimbursement does not include any shipping or handling expenses. You can read the policy for the Premier Rewards Gold card for more details.
How to file a claim
You must file a claim within 30 days of loss by using this link or by calling 800-322-1277. You must provide an original store receipt (or a printout of an online receipt), or in the event of theft, a copy of a police report. You may even be asked to send in a damaged item, so be sure to keep it until the claim is resolved.
This policy offers you compensation when a store will not accept a return of an eligible item within 90 days of purchase. In these cases, Amex will refund the entire purchase price up to $300 per item, excluding shipping and handling charges. There is a $1,000 annual maximum benefit.
The purchase must be made in the United States, be in “like new” condition, and the merchant must have previously denied the return.
The following items are excluded from this policy:
- Animals and living plants
- One-of-a-kind items such as antiques and artwork
- Limited edition items
- Going-out-of-business sale items
- Consumable items with limited life spans such as perfume, light bulbs and batteries
- Jewelry and watches
- Used and/or altered items
- Custom-built items
- Media such as compact discs, digital video discs, mini discs, audiotapes, videotapes, computer software and firmware
- Health care items
- Formal wear such as bridal wear, gowns, prom dresses and tuxedos
- Motorized vehicles including parts and accessories
- Firearms and ammunition
- Negotiable instruments such as gift cards and travelers checks
See the whole Return Protection policy for the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card for more information.
How to file a claim
You must file a claim within 90 days of your original purchase at www.AmericanExpress.com/onlineclaim or by calling 1-800-297-8019. You will be asked for a copy of the receipt and your Amex purchase record. You may also be asked to return the item to Amex, so be sure to hang onto it.
Extended Warranty Coverage
This policy covers eligible purchases for an additional year beyond a manufacturer’s warranty of between one and five years. The coverage is secondary to the manufacturer’s, so it only applies when the original warranty has expired. The coverage is limited to $10,000 per claim, and $50,000 in total claims per calendar year.
The extended warranty does not cover the following items:
- Products covered by an unconditional satisfaction guarantee
- Motorized vehicles and parts
- Business fixtures including air conditioners, refrigerators and heaters
- Land or buildings
- Consumable or perishable items
- Animals or living plants
- Items purchased for resale, professional, or commercial use
Also, coverage does not apply to damage from natural disasters or power surges, or any item under a product recall. You can view the full Amex Premier Rewards Gold card Extended Warranty policy for more information.
How to file a claim
You must file a claim within 30 days of your covered loss, and you can do so online or by calling 1-800-225-3750. You will be asked for a copy of the receipt and your Amex purchase record. You may also be asked to return the item to Amex in the event it can’t be repaired.
My Experiences with American Express’s Shopping Protection Policies
It’s easy to write off these policies as being too much of a hassle, or conversely, being too good to be true. However, I’ve filed two claims with Amex in the past, and in both cases I was pleasantly surprised about how quick and easy the process was.
The first claim was for a child’s bicycle seat that was supposed to mount on my bike’s handlebars. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but once I received it and had a chance to install it, I realized that it scared my daughter and seemed too dangerous to me as well. Since I was outside of the 30-day return policy, but still within 90 days of purchase, I filed a Return Protection claim online with Amex. The claim was quickly accepted, and I was issued a statement credit for my purchase.
My next chance to use these benefits was when a computer part failed about a year and a half after purchase when the warranty was only for one year. The manufacturer was completely unwilling to repair or replace it, but once again I remembered my Amex Extended Warranty policy, and filled out an online claim form. I was notified after about a week that my claim had been accepted, and I was issued a statement credit for the purchase price. I was not asked to return the items in question in either case.
How to Get the Most Benefit from These Policies
First, you have to have the right card, and use it to make your major purchases. I think TPG has one of the best practices for using particular cards for specific purposes, which allows him to remember which card was charged for a given purchase. Beyond that, I think it’s prudent to factor these protections into your decision of which card to use whenever you make a large purchase. I definitely lean toward my Amex card when I buy a television, computer or a major appliance that can be costly to repair, even if it means sacrificing a few bonus points.
I confess that I don’t save a copy of the register receipt from every purchase I make — I’m just not that organized. Thankfully, it’s really easy to search my email inbox to find receipts for everything I’ve bought online. Failing that, I can also search my order history at Amazon, Ebay and other online retailers I use, and an increasing number of brick-and-mortar retailers (from The Home Depot to the Apple store) will now email you a receipt from the register. These online records helped me file my Amex claims quickly rather than have to dig through a shoebox full of paper receipts.
When we think of the benefits of a great travel rewards card, we tend to think of lounge access, free checked bags and companion tickets, but don’t stop there. By taking advantage of the valuable shopping protection policies offered by cards like the American Express Premier Rewards Gold, you can save hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars when a purchase doesn’t work out the way you hoped.
Have you had success using Amex shopping protection policies? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
|Intro APR||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Foreign Transaction Fee||Credit Rating|
|N/A||N/A||Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $195.||0%||Excellent Credit|