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So you finally splurged for an Apple Watch and it broke 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? Well, not if you used the right credit card to make the purchase.

Purchase protection can save you big if a recent purchase is damaged or stolen. Only some credit cards offer purchase protection, though, and the benefits tend to vary across cards, so in this guide I describe the basics of credit card purchase protection and which credit cards 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.

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
  • 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

How to Utilize Purchase Protection

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. So 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 features 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 coverage is sometimes secondary to homeowners insurance and auto insurance, 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 the claim for her broken Apple Watch purchased with the Platinum Card® from American Express, she received a statement credit for the purchase price. And 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.

The Best Credit Cards for Purchase Protection

Card Maximum Coverage Amount
Maximum Coverage Amount Per Year Coverage Duration (days) Earning Rate(s) Annual Fee
United Club Card $10,000 per claim $50,000 120 2x directly purchased United tickets, 1.5x other $450
American Express® Gold Card $10,000 per incident $50,000 120 (90 for NY residents) 4x on dining, 4x US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), 3x directly purchased airline tickets or airfare purchases through amextravel.com, 1x other. Terms apply. $250 (see rates & fees)
Ink Business Cash Credit Card $10,000 per claim $50,000 120 5% office supply stores/telecom (up to $25,000, then 1%), 2% gas stations/restaurants (up to $25,000, then 1%), 1% other $0
Citi Premier Card $10,000 per incident $50,000 90 3x on travel including gas stations, 2x on restaurants and entertainment, 1x other $95
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express $1,000 per incident $50,000 120 (90 for NY residents) 3% US supermarkets on the first $6,000; (then 1%), 2% US gas stations/US department stores, 1% other. Terms apply. $0 (see rates & fees)
Chase Freedom $500 per claim $50,000 120 5% bonus categories each quarter, 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 Blue Cash Everyday 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

  • Maximum coverage per claim: $10,000
  • Maximum coverage per account per year: $50,000
  • Coverage duration: 120 days
  • Annual fee: $450
  • 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)

Analysis: This 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 $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. See the full card review for more details. (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
Get access to United Clubs, like this United Club at DFW, with the Club Card. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

American Express® Gold Card

  • Maximum coverage per incident: $10,000 ($500 if related to a natural disaster)
  • Maximum coverage per account per year: $50,000
  • Coverage duration: 120 days (90 days for NY residents)
  • Annual fee: $250
  • Earning rates: 4 points per dollar spent on dining; 4 points per dollar spent on the first $25,000 spent at US 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: Return protection (within 90 days, up to $300 per item and $1,000 per year), extended warranty protection (matches warranties of two years or less and adds two years to warranties between two and five years)

Analysis: This card has one of the lowest annual fees of American Express cards that offer $10,000 purchase protection coverage per incident. 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. But, this card might not be the right fit if price protection and earning more than 1 point per dollar spent on most purchases eligible for purchase protection is important to you. See the full card review for more details.

Ink Business Cash Credit Card

  • Maximum coverage per claim: $10,000
  • Maximum coverage per account: $50,000
  • Coverage duration: 120 days
  • Annual fee: None
  • 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)

Analysis: 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 an obvious choice. Beware that the card doesn’t offer price protection or return protection, though. See the full card review for more information.

Citi Premier Card

  • Maximum coverage per incident: $10,000
  • Maximum coverage per account per year: $50,000
  • Coverage duration: 90 days
  • Annual fee: $95
  • Earning rates: 3 ThankYou points per dollar spent on travel (including most gas); 2 points per dollar spent on restaurants and entertainment; 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases
  • Other shopping benefits: Extended warranty (extends the manufacturer’s warranty by 24 months, but the total coverage period won’t exceed seven years); Citi Price Rewind and Return Protection for purchases before September 22, 2019

Analysis: The Citi Premier offers excellent extended warranty protection and earning on travel, gas and entertainment. See the full card review for more details.

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

  • Maximum coverage per incident: $1,000 ($500 if related to a natural disaster)
  • Maximum coverage per account per year: $50,000
  • Coverage duration: 120 days (90 days for NY residents)
  • Annual fee: None
  • Earning rates: 3% cash back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases; then 1%); 2% cash back at US gas stations and select US department stores; 1% cash back on other purchases
  • Other shopping benefits: Return protection (within 90 days, up to $300 per item and $1,000 per calendar year), extended warranty (matches warranties of two years or less and adds two years to warranties between two and five years)

Analysis: This card can be good for shopping benefits if you’re able to buy most items at select US department stores and don’t need price protection — but its biggest strength is the ease at which most American Express shopping protection claims can be filed. This card is good for earning 3% cash back at US supermarkets, but shopping protection benefits aren’t particularly helpful on most supermarket purchases.

Chase Freedom

  • Maximum coverage per claim: $500
  • Maximum coverage per account per year: $50,000
  • Coverage duration: 120 days
  • Annual fee: None
  • 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 manufacturer’s warranty of three years or less by one year)

Analysis: Generally, the Citi Double Cash Card will be better since it always offers 2% cash back (1% when you buy, plus 1% when you pay) and more extensive shopping benefits. But, the rotating bonus categories offered by this card can make it a better choice for purchases that fit into the current quarterly bonus categories.

Other Cards Offering Excellent Purchase Protection

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. They 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 120 (90 for NY residents) 5x directly booked airfare, 5x airfare/hotels with Amex Travel, 1x other. Terms apply. $550 (See Rates & Fees)
Ink Business Preferred Card 120 3x travel/shipping/telecom/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 directly booked hotels, 2x restaurants, 1x other $0 first year, then $95
Citi Prestige 90 5x air travel/restaurants, 3x hotels/cruise lines, 2x entertainment until Aug. 31 if you were a cardholder before Sept. 1, 2018, 1x other $495
Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard* 90 2x restaurants/gas/American Airlines purchases, 1x other $0 first year, then $99
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express 120 (90 for NY residents) 14x Hilton purchases, 7x directly booked car rentals and flights/flights booked with Amex Travel/US restaurants, 3x other. Terms apply. $450 (See Rates & Fees)
Chase Sapphire Reserve 120 3x travel/dining, 1x other $450

*The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select 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.*

Bottom Line

Purchase protection is easy to overlook until you need it. But, purchase protection can become very valuable if a recently purchased item is damaged or stolen. So, when you’re purchasing items that would be eligible for purchase protection, make sure to use a card that offers purchase protection as a benefit. And in the case of cell phones, consider paying your bill each month with a card that provides cell phone protection.

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, like the American Express® Gold Card, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card or The Platinum Card from American Express.

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 Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire, please click here.

Feature image by Nick Jio via Unsplash.

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Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Increased Offer - $500 Cash Back Bonus! Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services, plus 2% back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each calendar year. Plus, you’ll earn an uncapped 1% cash back on everything else.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 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
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No Annual Fee
Intro APR on Purchases
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.24% - 21.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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.