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Guide to Credit Card Purchase Protection

By Jackie Lam · November 04, 2022 · 6 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Guide to Credit Card Purchase Protection

Among the sea of valuable credit card perks, purchase protection is one that often gets overlooked. If you have a credit card with purchase protection, you can replace an item you paid for with your card should it get damaged, lost, or stolen.

However, there are restrictions on what is and isn’t covered under credit card purchase protection, which is why it’s important to understand how it works. You’ll also want to know the drawbacks and advantages of credit card purchase protection to determine if it’s the right path for you.

What Is Credit Card Purchase Protection?

Also known as purchase insurance or damage protection, credit card purchase protection is a type of credit card protection. If you have a purchase protection credit card, the credit card issuer might help you replace a stolen, lost, or damaged item that you bought using the card.

Purchase protection doesn’t last forever though — there are generally limits on the duration of the protection period and the coverage amounts. Also note that purchase protection serves as secondary coverage. This means that you must first file a claim with your primary insurance, and then purchase protection may kick in to cover any remaining amount.

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How Does Credit Card Purchase Protection Work?

As mentioned, purchase protection only applies to items that you paid for with your credit card. Not all instances of theft or damage are covered.

The protection period offered by cards with purchase protection can last anywhere from 90 to 120 days after the purchase is made. Coverage limits and terms also can vary. For instance, a credit card might have $500 cap per claim, with a maximum benefit of $50,000 per account.

Some card issuers extend this credit card advantage to recipients of gifts that you purchased using the card. For instance, if you bought a computer for your son for his birthday, he may be able to file a claim to get it replaced if it’s covered by purchase protection. However, the recipient would generally need to have an eligible credit card with that same card network.

Understanding How to Use Credit Card Purchase Protection

If, for example, the screen on the cell phone you purchased with your credit card shatters, and the incident occurs within your credit card’s purchase protection time frame, you may be able to take advantage of purchase protection.

To get coverage, you’d need to file a claim with the credit card. The claim form is usually found on a credit card’s website or listed under “forms” after you log in to your account. If your claim is approved, it typically takes anywhere from 15 to 30 days for you to receive reimbursement for your claim.

What Does a Credit Card’s Purchase Protection Not Cover?

Here’s what credit card purchase protection typically doesn’t cover:

•   Items that are excluded under the policy. Each card issuer has varying items that are excluded from coverage. For example, credit card purchase protection may exclude motorized vehicles, perishable items, antique or collectible items, computer software, and items purchased commercially for resale. There are also usually exclusions on the reasons for why you lost or damaged an item — for instance, items that were lost or damaged due to acts of war or fraudulent or illegal activity aren’t usually covered.

•   Items that mysteriously disappeared. If an object ends up missing with no apparent cause and without evidence of a wrongful act, then that item generally will not be covered by purchase protection.

•   Items damaged, lost, or stolen after the protection period. If an item you bought with your credit card was lost, damaged, or stolen after the coverage time window ended — usually past 90 to 120 days — then it won’t be covered.

•   Items that are used or pre-owned. Many credit card issuers exclude used or pre-owned items from purchase protection coverage.

What Does a Credit Card’s Purchase Protection Cover?

As discussed, the terms, items included, and coverage amounts provided vary by credit card issuer. For the most part, a credit card’s purchase protection covers items that were unintentionally lost, stolen, or damaged within a specified protection period.

You’ll also want to mind the cap per claim and per account. Your coverage limits may apply by account or by year. For example, you might have a cap of $500 per claim, and be limited to making $50,000 in claims per account you own.

Read your credit card’s terms and conditions to see what exactly is included under purchase protection and what coverage limits apply. This can also provide other valuable information to credit card holders, such as how credit card payments work.

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Pros and Cons of Credit Card Purchase Protection

Here’s an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of credit card purchase protection:

Pros

Cons

Built-in protection with your credit card Coverage limits generally apply
No deductible May take longer or require more steps than primary insurance

Pros

Let’s dive deeper into the upsides of credit card purchase insurance:

•   Built-in protection with your card. Probably the most significant advantage of credit card purchase protection is that it is essentially free insurance that comes with your card. As long as an item is covered under your card’s purchase policy, and you file a claim without the protection period, you typically can get some help replacing a lost, damaged, or stolen item, rather than driving up your credit card balance covering the cost.

•   No deductible. Unlike primary insurance, you might not need to pay a deductible to get your eligible claim reimbursed.

Cons

Here are the downsides of purchase protection to be aware of:

•   Limits. As insurance usually goes, there are coverage caps per claim and per account or year. You’ll need to check with your credit card issuer to determine the limits for your purchase protection policy.

•   May take longer than primary insurance. The time to file a claim and get reimbursed could take longer compared to the turnaround for primary insurance. That’s because purchase protection is secondary coverage, meaning you’ll usually have to go through your primary insurance first, whether that’s homeowners, auto, or rental insurance.

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Filing a Credit Card Purchase Protection Claim

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to file a claim for purchase protection:

1.    Review your card’s policies to see if the item is covered. Before moving forward with filing a credit card purchase protection claim, it’s smart to take a moment to make sure the item qualifies. Also remember that you’ll need to make at least your credit card minimum payment, even while waiting for a response.

2.    Fill out a claim form. This is usually found on the credit card issuer’s website or through your account after you log in. It’s recommended to file a claim as soon as you can. Keep in mind that credit cards typically have a time frame in which you can file a claim after the incident, usually within 30 to 90 days.

3.    Provide requested documents. When you file your claim, you’ll generally need to provide the following documents:

◦   A copy of the credit card statement that includes proof of purchase

◦   An itemized original receipt showing the purchase

◦   A copy of your insurance claim and insurance declaration page (if you have primary insurance)

◦   A police report (if the item was stolen)

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Other Types of Credit Card Protection

Beyond purchase protection, there are other types of protection commonly offered through credit cards. These include:

•   Return protection: This perk that some issuers offer allows you to return an item, even when the retailer has a no-return policy. While some cards do offer return protection, other cards have phased it out in recent years.

•   Price protection: Should you buy something and the item then drops in price within a specific period, price protection will kick in and match the lower, advertised price. Depending on the card, the time frame during which this applies might range from 30 to 60 days. You might get refunded up to a certain amount for specific types of purchases, though price protection usually has limits per item and per year.

•   Extended warranty protection: Instead of hopping on a retailer’s pricey service plan or opting for extended warranty at the checkout register, you might be able to take advantage of a credit card’s extended warranty protection. This protection matches the terms of your manufacturer’s warranty. However, it usually extends protection for up to a year, and some cards will even double the manufacturer warranty.

Beyond these protections, credit cards can offer an array of other perks, such as credit card travel insurance and credit card rental insurance, among others.

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The Takeaway

Credit card purchase protection is a valuable perk to take advantage of if a card offers it. The built-in insurance offered by purchase protection can save you should an item you bought with your card get lost, stolen, or damaged.

If you’re looking for a new credit card that offers a myriad of perks, consider the SoFi Credit Card. SoFi’s credit card offers cell phone protection and Mastercard ID theft protection. Plus, you can lower your APR through on-time payments and earn generous cash-back rewards on eligible purchases.

Apply today for the SoFi credit card!

FAQ

Do all credit cards offer purchase protection?

Not all credit cards offer purchase protection. In fact, cards offering this perk have become less common in recent years.

How do you get your money back from a credit card purchase?

You’ll need to file a claim and provide requested documents, such as a receipt, a copy of your credit card statement, and in some instances, a police report or proof of primary insurance. Once your claim has been approved, you can expect reimbursement within 15 to 30 days.

Is there a time limit on credit card purchase protection?

Yes, there’s a time window after you’ve made the purchase during which purchase protection applies. This is usually 90 to 120 days. There’s also a time limit as to when you can file a claim after the incident, which can be anywhere from 30 to 90 days. It’s best to file a claim as soon as possible.


Photo credit: iStock/filadendron

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