Best credit cards for purchase protection

Jan 8, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with current information. It was originally published on May 20, 2018.

So you finally splurged for an Apple Watch and broke it less than 48 hours later. The warranty won’t cover the damage and you didn’t think you’d need AppleCare. You’re out of luck, right? Not if you used the right credit card to make the purchase.

Purchase protection can save you big if a recently bought item is damaged or stolen. Only some credit cards offer purchase protection, though, and the benefits tend to vary across cards. In this guide I will describe the basics of credit card purchase protection and detail some of the credit cards that offer the best coverage.

What is purchase protection?

The purchase protection benefit offered by select credit cards covers eligible purchases against accidental damage or theft — and for some cards, loss — in the first few months after you use an eligible card to pay for the purchase.

Related: When does credit card purchase protection kick In?

Best credit cards with purchase protection in 2020

Comparing the best credit cards for purchase protection

Card Maximum coverage amount
Maximum coverage amount Coverage duration (days) Earning rate(s) Annual fee
United Club Card $10,000 per claim $50,000 per year 120 2x directly purchased United tickets; 1.5x other $450
American Express Gold Card $10,000 per item (or $500 per event for natural disasters) $50,000 per card per calendar year 90 4x at restaurants; 4x at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), 3x on directly purchased airline tickets or airfare purchases through amextravel.com, 1x other. Terms apply. $250 (see rates and fees)
Ink Business Cash Credit Card $10,000 per claim $50,000 per account 120 5% office supply stores/telecom (up to $25,000, then 1%), 2% gas stations/restaurants (up to $25,000, then 1%), 1% other $0
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express $1,000 per item (or $500 per event for natural disasters) $50,000 per card per year 90 3% U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000; (then 1%), 2% U.S. gas stations/U.S. department stores, 1% other. Terms apply. $0 (see rates and fees)
Chase Freedom $500 per claim $50,000 per account 120 5% on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate, 1% other $0

These cards, each of which was chosen with a particular type of consumer or purchase in mind, are discussed below. Note that coverage can vary based on your state of residence, and bonus categories sometimes have caps.

The information for the United Club 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.

United Club Card

United Club
(Photo of a United Club by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 United miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months

Earning rates: 2 miles per dollar spent on tickets purchased from United; 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all other purchases

Other shopping benefits: Price protection (within 90 days, up to $500 per item and $2,500 per year), return protection (within 90 days, up to $500 per item and $1,000 per year), extended warranty protection (by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less)

Maximum coverage per claim: $10,000

Maximum coverage per year: $50,000

Coverage duration: 120 days

Annual fee: $450

The United Club Card earns 1.5 miles per dollar spent on non-United purchases — a return of 1.95% based on TPG’s latest valuations — and offers up to $10,000 per claim in purchase protection coverage. Although it has a $450 annual fee, it features other great shopping benefits that’ll help protect costly items. Plus, the travel benefits and protections are solid, especially for consumers who fly on United and value having a United Club membership.

Further reading:

Apply here for the United Club Card

American Express Gold Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases on your new card in your first three months

Earning rates: 4 points per dollar spent at restaurants; 4 points per dollar on the first $25,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each calendar year (then 1x); 3 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com; 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases

Other shopping benefits: Extended warranty protection (one additional year for items with original manufacturer’s warranty of five years or less)

Maximum coverage per item: $10,000 ($500 per event if related to a natural disaster)

Maximum coverage per card per calendar year: $50,000

Coverage duration: 90 days

Annual fee: $250 (see rates and fees)

The American Express Gold Card has one of the lowest annual fees of American Express cards that offer $10,000 in purchase protection coverage per item (excluding natural disasters). This is important because many cardholders believe American Express has the least painful claim process. Plus, this card doesn’t exclude items that are lost or misplaced and is great for foodies due to its bonus earning categories. This card might not be the right fit if price protection and earning more than one point per dollar spent on most purchases eligible for purchase protection is important to you.

Further reading:

Apply here for the American Express Gold Card

Ink Business Cash Credit Card

(Photo by TPG staff)

Welcome bonus: Earn $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months

Earning rates: 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year; 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year; 1% cash back on all other purchases

Other shopping benefits: Extended warranty protection (by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less)

Maximum coverage per claim: $10,000

Maximum coverage per account: $50,000

Coverage duration: 120 days

Annual fee: None

This card offers $10,000 per claim purchase protection with no annual fee. If you buy high-value items that are eligible for purchase protection at office supply stores — where you’ll earn 5% cash back until you hit your annual limit — this card is a great choice. The card doesn’t offer price protection or return protection, though.

Further reading:

Apply here for the Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy.)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn $150 cash back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months

Earning rates: 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases; then 1%); 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores; 1% cash back on other purchases

Maximum coverage per item: $1,000 ($500 per event if related to a natural disaster)

Maximum coverage per card per year: $50,000

Coverage duration: 90 days

Annual fee: None

The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express can be good for purchase protection if you tend to shop at select U.S. department stores. This card is also good for earning 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, but shopping protection benefits aren’t particularly helpful on most supermarket purchases. However, note that this card doesn’t offer extended warranty or return protection.

Further reading:

Apply here for the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

Chase Freedom

(Photo by TPG staff)

Welcome bonus: Earn $150 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months

Earning rates: 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter; 1% cash back on all other purchases

Other shopping benefits: Extended warranty (extends eligible manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less by one year)

Maximum coverage per claim: $500

Maximum coverage per account: $50,000

Coverage duration: 120 days

Annual fee: None

The rotating bonus categories offered by this card can make it a great choice for purchases that fit into the current quarterly bonus categories. Its sister card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited, offers the same purchase protection and extended warranty benefits but earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases. You can convert the earnings on your Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited to Chase Ultimate Rewards if you have an eligible card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Further reading:

Apply here for the Chase Freedom

Other cards offering strong purchase protection benefits

Although they didn’t make the top six, the following cards offer purchase protection with a $10,000 per incident/claim limit and $50,000 per year per account limit (although Amex cards have a limit of $500 per event for natural disasters). These cards didn’t make the top six list because at least one card discussed above featured similar or better purchase protection with either a lower annual fee or better earning rate on categories where you’d most likely need purchase protection.

Card Coverage Duration (days) Earning Rate(s) Annual Fee
The Platinum Card® from American Express 90 5x directly booked airfare, 5x airfare/hotels with Amex Travel, 1x other. Terms apply. $550 (see rates and fees)
Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express 90 2x on Delta purchases (3x from Jan. 30, 2020 onward), 1x other. Terms apply. $450 ($550 for renewals or new applications on or after Jan. 30, 2020, see rates and fees)
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express 90 14x at Hilton properties; 7x on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants; 3x other. Terms apply. $450 (see rates and fees)
Ink Business Preferred Card 120 3x on travel, shipping, telecom and advertising on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year, 1x other $95
United Explorer Card 120 2x directly booked United flights, 2x restaurants and directly booked hotels, 1x other $0 first year, then $95
Chase Sapphire Reserve 120 3x travel/dining, 1x other $550

Many cards besides just the ones listed in this guide offer purchase protection, so, it’s worth referencing the guide to benefits for each card in your wallet to determine whether they have that coverage as well as other valuable shopping and travel protections.

You can see the benefits for all American Express cards on Amex’s website, but you may need to call or log in to your account to see the guide to benefits for cards issued by other banks. Call the number on the back of your card for help if you can’t find the guide to benefits.

Related: 9 things to consider when choosing a credit card for large purchases

How purchase protection benefits differ

Not all purchase protection benefits are created equal. Purchase protection benefits offered by credit cards often differ in three main aspects:

  • Amount of coverage: Usually ranges from $500 to $10,000 per claim or incident, often with a cap of $50,000 per year per account and sometimes with a lower cap for certain events
  • Duration of coverage: Usually ranges from 90 to 120 days, although the exact date coverage begins varies across cards and the duration of coverage can depend on the state in which you reside.
  • Exclusions: Purchases can be excluded due to their type or method of loss/damage
    • Types of purchases often excluded: Motorized vehicles and their parts, animals, living plants, perishable or consumable items, tickets, gift cards, antiques, jewelry, medical equipment
    • Types of loss / damage often excluded: Natural disasters, hostilities, abuse, fraud, riots, illegal behavior, normal wear and tear, failure to adequately secure the item, items stolen from personal vehicles, damage from inherent product defects

Related: Purchase protection saved us $1,700 — reader success story

How to utilize purchase protection

The more space you have on that credit card, the better off you
Filing a purchase protection claim may take some time. (Photo by jacoblund/Getty Images)

Before making a significant purchase, know the benefits offered by each of the cards you could use for the purchase. Although this guide focuses on purchase protection, you should also consider return protection, price protection and extended warranty benefits.

Purchase protection doesn’t require any registration. If a recently purchased item is damaged, stolen or lost, your first step should be to determine whether the card used to purchase the item had purchase protection. Your next step should be to check the card’s benefits guide to determine if your item and its form of damage or loss is eligible. Call a representative if you have any questions regarding eligibility, the documentation needed or the process required to file a claim.

During the claim process, you may need to submit a police report for stolen items and a repair estimate or photos for damaged items. It’s a good idea to keep damaged items until the claim is complete. Claims also usually require original receipts and the credit card statement related to the purchase. Note that card coverage is sometimes secondary to any homeowners insurance and auto insurance policies, so you may need to prove that you’ve already submitted claims with other insurance providers.

If your claim is successful, the credit card company will choose to replace, repair or reimburse you for the lost or damaged item. For example, when TPG’s Emily McNutt filed a claim for her broken Apple Watch that she purchased with her Amex Platinum Card, she received a statement credit for the purchase price. When a reader filed a claim for his stolen custom laptop purchased with the Ink Business Cash Credit Card, he received a check covering the full amount of the purchase.

Related: Amex’s shopping protections make them great cards for holiday purchases

What Amex cards cover lost items?

If you’re forgetful, you might want to consider putting your purchases on one of American Express’ premium cards that includes lost items under the purchase protection benefit. These cards include:

Related: Everything you need to know about Amex purchase protection

Related guides

For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta Reserve, please click here.

Feature image by Nick Jio via Unsplash.

American Express® Gold Card

With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at restaurants worldwide, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.