Why Amex’s shopping protections are my favorite card benefit during the holidays

Dec 7, 2020

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest information. 

While travel may be more limited this year, the 2020 holiday season is still in full swing. That means you may have a long list of gifts, groceries and other holiday expenses coming up.

There are many different factors to consider when choosing which cards to use on holiday purchases. During this season of spending, you could rack up rewards for travel later in 2021 or hit sign-up bonus requirements. But for me, the most valuable benefit of using a credit card for holiday shopping is purchase protection.

(Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

That’s why Amex cards are my number one choice during this time of year, especially for larger ticket items. Many American Express cards offer purchase protection, return protection and extended warranty coverage. As other issuers have dropped these benefits, Amex’s coverage has become even more valuable.

Let’s walk through these three different types of shopping protections and how you can use them to safeguard your holiday purchases.

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Amex purchase protection

Purchase protection covers all eligible purchases made on an eligible American Express card for up to 90 days (this previously was 120 days prior to 2020) against accidental damage and theft.

(Photo by LWA/Getty Images)

Purchase protection provides coverage up to $1,000 per purchase, up to $50,000 per cardmember account each calendar year for the majority of American Express cards. However, select premium cards offer increased protection up to $10,000 per incident, with the same $50,000 annual cap. These cards include:

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Here is a list of all purchases not eligible for purchase protection:

  • Tickets
  • Gift cards, travelers checks, and other negotiable instruments
  • Living things such as plants and animals
  • Rare collectibles (i.e. stamps and coins)
  • Consumable and perishable items with limited life spans (i.e. food, perfume and batteries)
  • Antiques and previously owned items
  • Motorized vehicles, parts, and accessories
  • Permanent household items
  • Medical equipment

Items that are damaged or lost for the following reasons are also ineligible:

  • Natural disasters
  • Riots
  • Illegal actions
  • Military service
  • Normal wear and tear
  • Damage incurred during alteration
  • Lost or misplaced items (this is only covered by the list of premium cards above)

You must file a claim within 30 days of the incident here or by calling 1-800-322-1277. You’ll have to provide the original store receipt and, in the event of theft, a copy of the police report. If the item is damaged, hold onto it because you may be asked to send it in.

Look here for full purchase protection details for each card. And check out some of our other favorite cards with purchase protection.

Parcels are processed and prepared for dispatch at the Amazon.com fulfillment centre in Amazon.com MPX5 fulfillment center on November 17, 2017 in Castel San Giovanni, Italy. Established in 2014, the 100.000 sq. metres warehouse employs a workforce of 1.600 people who processed 1.2 million items during the last Black Friday. (Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)
If you’re buying holiday gifts online, purchase protection could be a lifesaver if something gets damaged during the shipping process. (Photo by Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)

Amex extended warranty

Amex extended warranty coverage currently provides up to one extra year of additional warranty coverage for warranties that last for five years or less. This is good for $10,000 per item and up to $50,000 per calendar year. Note that this was recently changed from two years of extended warranty coverage.

Additionally, the following cards are no longer covered:

The information for the Amex EveryDay Credit Card, Amex Cash Magnet and Blue from American Express cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Image by Irina Dobrolyubova / Getty Images
Extended warranty could save you hundreds in case of damage. (Photo by Irina Dobrolyubova/Getty Images)

Items not covered by extended warranty protection include:

  • Products with an unconditional satisfaction guarantee
  • Motorized vehicles, accessories, and parts
  • Business fixtures
  • Land
  • Buildings
  • Consumable or perishable items
  • Living items including plants and animals
  • Items purchased intended for resale, professional, or commercial use

Coverage does not apply to items damaged during a natural disaster, power surge, or any item under a product recall. Claims must be filed within 30 days of the loss, either here or by calling 1-800-225-3750. You’ll need your receipt, Amex purchase record, and you may need to return the item to Amex if it is irreparable.

Look here for full extended warranty details for each card. And here are some of our other favorite cards that offer extended warranty.

Return protection

While American Express removed this perk from many cards on Jan. 1, 2020, there are still a handful of cards that still offer this benefit: The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Business Platinum Card® from American ExpressHilton Honors American Express Aspire CardDelta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express CardDelta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express CardMarriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® CardBlue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express; and the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card.

The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

This benefit offers cardholders compensation when a store will not accept an eligible item for return 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. This benefit is limited to $1,000 annually.

You must file a claim within 90 days of your original purchase at AmericanExpress.com/onlineclaim or by calling 1-800-297-8019. You’ll be asked for a copy of the receipt and your Amex purchase record.

Related: Changes made to Amex benefits for 2020

Bottom line

Shopping protections make Amex cards a great option for purchasing eligible gifts and other holiday shopping expenses. There’s no need to register any of your purchases, so if anything is damaged during shipping or you have to return any gifts, you’re covered automatically.

While I might get a higher rewards rate on certain purchases with other cards, it’s worth it to sacrifice that in exchange for coverage when I’m buying larger ticket items.

Related: Holiday gift guide: TPG’s 18 travel-friendly picks for 2020

Additional reporting by Chris Dong. 

Featured photo by Image Source / Getty Images

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