How an often overlooked credit card benefit put $1,400 back in my wallet

Apr 22, 2021

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Those big welcome bonuses that can come with new credit cards after you hit a spending threshold can really accelerate you to a great vacation courtesy of your points and miles. But, after you get past that glitzy reason to add a new credit card to your wallet, there’s more that rewards cards can do for you and your family’s bottom line.

In fact, there’s one valuable card benefit that’s saved me more than $1,000 over the years. It’s also quickly resolved some situations that could definitely have developed into big time-sucking headaches.

Extended warranty protection is one of those sometimes overlooked benefits available with certain credit cards that has saved me more times than once. It shouldn’t be an overlooked perk as it can put money back in your wallet quickly and easily when something goes wrong with an item you charged to the card.

You won’t find it on every credit card, but it’s a benefit you’ll find on a wide variety of American Express cards. And, just recently, it yet again helped keep money in my family’s pocket, this time to the tune of $120.

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The day the vacuum died

We purchased a cordless vacuum cleaner from Amazon for $119.99 back in March of 2020. The vacuum worked fine for a handful of months, but in December it stopped working completely. Under normal circumstances, this would have gotten me pretty hot under the collar since I hate wasting cash on things that quickly break. On top of that, I don’t have time to chase down some never-ending customer service loop on the off chance of maybe getting a refund.

But, luckily for me, a few minutes of work with American Express solved the issue before it even really became a problem.

Filing an extended warranty claim

In early January, I opened an extended warranty claim with American Express for the recently departed vacuum. I had purchased the vacuum cleaner using my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which turned out to be a very good decision when it quickly broke.

The information for the Hilton Aspire 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.          

I didn’t have to submit any pictures of the broken vacuum or other documentation beyond completing a simple form on the American Express website. The next morning, on a Sunday no less, I received an email from American Express with a letter attached stating my claim had been approved for the full amount of my purchase.

Sure enough, the credit appeared on my account shortly after, and just like that, we were able to purchase a replacement vacuum with no financial hit.

 

How many times have you heard a story from someone who purchased an item off of Amazon or another online retailer and ended up having to throw it in the trash a few months later? I have to wonder how many of those folks had a credit card in their wallet that would have protected their purchase and they didn’t even know it.

American Express has mostly kept valuable benefits like these in place, even while other banks like Citi have made them a thing of the past.

Not my first purchase protection rodeo

This isn’t my first positive experience with American Express extended warranty coverage.

The Amex extended warranty program saved me a ton of money three years after I purchased a TV. A while back, I purchased a brand-new flat-screen TV from Costco using The Platinum Card® from American Express to the tune of $1,200. I’ve held that card in my wallet for a decade, ever since my days in the military. It earned a place in my wallet at first because American Express waives annual fees each year you’re on active duty. But it remains in my wallet now because it proves its worth year after year.

Three years of blissful and frustrating Sundays watching my beloved Atlanta Falcons was interrupted when the television suddenly stopped working. I called a television repair company, only to have them tell me the TV was dead-dead and of course we were just beyond the manufacturer’s included warranty.

(Photo by asbe/Getty Images)

Luckily, I held on to the purchase receipt. I submitted the report from the repair company along with my receipt to Amex and they credited me the entire purchase amount, including taxes. The Amex warranty had picked up for one additional year when the built-in warranty dropped off. It didn’t take long for me to purchase the replacement television and get back to the important business of rooting for the Falcons and Georgia Bulldogs from the couch.

This sort of protection doesn’t cover you on every sort of purchase or in perpetuity. Generally, American Express steps in when other warranty options won’t cover you up to a certain length of time — in this case, one year beyond the included warranty. So, if you’re covered by a “satisfaction guarantee” or built-in warranty from a store or manufacturer, you’ll probably need to pursue that first. Amex also won’t cover you for live plants, software, gift cards, jewelry and a handful of other items. Additionally, you’ll need to file your claim within 30 days of the incident.

Extended warranty protection can cover claims of up to $10,000 each and up to $50,000 in a calendar year within five years of your purchase date. You can see the full list of Amex cards that offer various ways to protect your purchases here. It’s safe to say that the various protections American Express offers also make them a great choice for holiday shopping or anytime you have a large expense.

Related: Guide to Amex purchase protection

If you are in the market for a card like this, know that the Amex Platinum Card is currently offering 75,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 in the first six months — plus awarding 10x points on eligible purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets in the first six months of card membership, on up to $15,000 charged. Some people have targeted offers of up to 125k bonus points available to them via CardMatch (offer subject to change at anytime). Here’s how that process works if you want to see if you are eligible for an even higher bonus.

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

Those two claims saved me over $1,400 in cold hard cash.

To put it another way, that’s the same as almost three years of annual fees on my beloved American Express Platinum Card, and that’s before you consider all the other perks that card has to offer.

I got a bit lucky holding on to that Costco TV receipt for three years. I highly recommend choosing an email receipt from any local store when you purchase big-ticket items. That way you can just search your email for the receipt when things go haywire. Don’t leave yourself high and dry on big purchases. Make sure you’re getting all the value you can out of those credit cards you carry around in your wallet every day.

Featured photo by Rattanakun Thongbun/EyeEm/Getty Images.

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