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Credit card reader question: What happens to items in a return protection claim?

Oct. 26, 2020
3 min read
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Credit card reader question: What happens to items in a return protection claim?
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Editor's note: This article is part of a column to answer your toughest credit card questions. If you would like to ask a question, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

In addition to benefits like bonus spending categories, elite status and lounge access, a lot of credit cards offer various protections to make cardholders more confident in their purchases. While a number of issuers are cutting down on the purchase protection benefits offered, there are still a number of cards that offer extended warranty or return protection.

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[pullquote source="TPG Reader Jake"]Any idea what happens to the items credit card companies take back from return protection benefits? I’m curious![/pullquote]

Return protection allows you to return certain items even if the merchant won’t accept it or issue a refund. That can come in handy if you change your mind about a purchase outside of the standard return period. While it differs from one card to the next, policies generally stipulate that upon request, you must send the item in to collect your refund. That brings us to Jake’s question: Where do all these returned items go?

Generally, return protection is a benefit offered through the payment network your specific card uses. American Express, Mastercard and Visa Infinite cards all typically offer some form of return protection, though it may differ by issuer. For example, even though Mastercard offers return protection, most Citi credit cards dropped that specific benefit (along with a number of other protections) back in September 2019.

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Each card issuer and payment network that offers return protection contracts with a third-party benefits administrator that handles your return. When you file a claim, you'll likely be sent shipping labels to mail off your return. Your item gets shipped to a processing center (basically a big warehouse) and waits there while a claims representative verifies that your return is eligible for a refund. If your claim meets all the requirements (for example, the item generally has to be in “like new” condition), then the rep will cut you a refund check and decide what’s to become of your return.

Your items will be shipped back to a processing center before its next steps. (Photo by Morsa Images/Getty Images)

I was happy to hear from several card issuers that, unlike lost luggage, many items are donated to charity. Others are sold at auction, with the proceeds then being donated. Some items might be resold. Unfortunately, some items are simply thrown out. Claims representatives and upper management make the call in each case, and whatever algorithm they use to decide is kept under wraps. It’s not clear why some items have to be sent in and not others, but I was told that each claim is handled individually, so presumably, this too is at the discretion of the claim processor.

Ultimately, the refund is what matters to cardholders, but it’s good to know those items (mostly) aren’t just disappearing into the void.

Related: Best cards for purchase protection in 2020

Photo by Tevarak Phanduang/EyeEm/Getty Images.

Featured image by Getty Images/EyeEm

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    Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

Build your loyalty to Delta by applying for the carrier's mid-tier card option, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card. The annual fee is quickly recouped by the card's travel perks, such as an application credit to Global Entry or TSA Precheck, annual companion certificate and so much more. Plus you can fast-track to elite status simply through card spend.

Pros

  • Earn bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and an Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver when you hit specific spending thresholds with your card within a calendar year
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year
  • Statement credit for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee (up to $100)
  • First checked bag free

Cons

  • Doesn't make sense if you don't fly Delta
  • SkyMiles aren't the most valuable airline currency
  • Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights. Plus enjoy Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding and settle into your seat sooner.
  • New: Card Members get 15% off when using miles to book Award Travel on Delta flights through delta.com and the Fly Delta app. Discount not applicable to partner-operated flights or to taxes and fees.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy a per-visit rate of $50 per person for Card Members and up to two guests to enter the Delta Sky Club when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees