Best credit cards for purchase protection

Aug 20, 2021

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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.

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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’ll describe the basics of credit card purchase protection and detail some of the credit cards that offer the best coverage.

In This Post

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.

Best credit cards with purchase protection in 2021

Comparing the best credit cards for purchase protection

Card Maximum coverage amount per claim
Maximum coverage amount per account Coverage duration (days) Earning rate(s) Annual fee
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 and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x), 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or purchased through Amex Travel, 1x on all other purchases. Terms apply. $250 (see rates & fees)
Ink Business Cash Credit Card $10,000 per claim $50,000 per account 120 5% on office supply stores and telecom (on up to $25,000, then 1%), 2% at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $25,000, then 1%), 1% on all other purchases. $0
Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express $1,000 per item (or $500 per event for natural disasters) $50,000 per card per calendar year 90 3% at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $6,000 per calendar year, then 1%), 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, 1% on all other purchases. Terms apply. $0 (see rates & fees)
Chase Freedom Unlimited $500 per claim $50,000 per account 120 5% on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal, 3% on dining and drugstores, 1.5% on all other purchases. $0

These cards, each 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.

American Express® Gold Card

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

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.

Earning rates: 4 points per dollar spent at restaurants and 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 Amex Travel; 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 a generous $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 of any issuer. Plus, this card doesn’t exclude lost or misplaced items 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 1 point per dollar spent on most purchases eligible for purchase protection are important to you.

Further reading:

Apply here for the American Express Gold Card.

Ink Business Cash Credit Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn $750 cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

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 in 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 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the card within the first six months of card membership, up to $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card within the first six months of card membership. Cash back is received in the form of statement credits.

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 (on up to $6,000 per calendar year, then 1%), 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 Unlimited

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Welcome bonus: Earn $200 cash back after spending $500 on purchases in your first three months of account opening.

Earning rates: 5% cash back on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% cash back on dining and drugstores; 1.5% 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 bonus categories and those that don’t. That’s because the Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. You can convert your Chase Freedom Unlimited earnings to Chase Ultimate Rewards points 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 Unlimited.

Other cards that offer strong purchase protection benefits

Although they didn’t make the top four, 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 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 on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel (up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5x on flights/hotels booked through Amex Travel, 1x on other purchases. Terms apply. $695 (see rates & fees)
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card 90 3x on eligible Delta purchases, 1x on other purchases. Terms apply. $550 (see rates & fees)
Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express 90 14x at eligible Hilton properties; 7x on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel, car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants; 3x on other purchases. Terms apply. $450 (see rates & fees)
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card 120 3x on travel, shipping, telecom and advertising (on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year), 1x on other purchases. $95
United Explorer Card 120 2x on flights booked directly with United, 2x on restaurants and stays booked directly with hotels, 1x on other purchases. $0 first year, then $95
Chase Sapphire Reserve 120 3x on travel and dining, 1x on other purchases. $550

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.

Many cards besides just the ones listed in this guide offer purchase protection. Hence, 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.

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 — a reader success story

How to use purchase protection

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

Before making a significant purchase, know the benefits of 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.

You may need to submit a police report for stolen items and a repair estimate or photos for damaged items during the claim process. 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 former editor 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.

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

Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Carissa Rawson.

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.

Featured photo by 10,000 hours for Getty Images.

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, at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Rose Gold is back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: 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.
  • Get up to 12 complimentary months of an Uber Eats Pass subscription when you enroll with your Gold Card by 12/31/21.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
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.

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