Credit Card Purchase Protection: What You Need to Know

Imagine you bought a laptop online for $800. You then anxiously await its delivery. When the day finally arrives for it to… arrive, you head outside and see nothing. 

Porch pirates! 

You contact both Amazon and UPS for help, but since the package was confirmed delivered, all you get is an unsympathetic ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Luckily, several popular credit cards offer purchase protection benefits. They can help repair or replace damaged or stolen goods purchased with that card.

Best of all, you may already have purchase protection. It’s just a matter of knowing when it applies and how to file a claim so you can save $500 or more the next time your laptop gets stolen. 

But how does credit card purchase protection work? What qualifies as “damaged”? And when does your purchase protection kick in versus your renters/homeowners insurance?

Erika Taught Me

  • Purchase protection can cover the cost of damaged or stolen items purchased within the last 90 to 120 days
  • Many credit cards offer purchase protection for eligible purchases made with the card
  • You may need to file a claim with your renters/homeowners insurance first, before filing a purchase protection claim with your credit card issuer
  • There are limits to how much you can be reimbursed through purchase protection, so it may not cover the full cost of the item

What is purchase protection?

Credit card issuers commonly offer purchase protection, aiding in covering the expenses for repairing or replacing items damaged or stolen. Purchase protection programs usually impose a limit of $500 or $1,000 per claim. This remains effective for 90 to 120 days after the purchase, depending on the card issuer.

To illustrate, let’s say your brand-new $800 laptop gets stolen. You file a police report, but you don’t really expect them to go busting down doors to find your Dell — so you accept the fact that it’s as good as gone. 

Technically speaking, theft of personal property is covered by your renters' insurance — but if your deductible is something like $1,000, it’s not even worth filing a claim. 

Then, you remember you made the purchase using your Chase Freedom Flex card. Huzzah! So you file a purchase protection claim through Chase, attach your receipt and police report, and Chase credits you the maximum per-claim amount of $500. 

In the end, your purchase protection didn’t cover 100% of the cost of the replacement, but hey, it’s $500 more than you had a minute ago!

What does purchase protection cover? 

Purchase protection typically covers the cost to repair or replace new retail purchases that are damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase. 

Let’s break that all down. 

“New retail purchases” generally include items that were purchased brand new from a retailer. Chase says it may also cover refurbished items as long as the item comes with a warranty.

“Damaged” has a wide variety of definitions across card issuers. Capital One, for example, has a very specific list of qualifying damage that includes fire, smoke, lightning, rain, sleet, snow, and “spacecraft.” American Express says the damage must be “accidental.”

Chase Benefits Administrator did not clearly define “damage” during research on credit card rental car insurance. When we sought clarification, they asserted that “damage” broadly encompasses various situations. Taken at face value, this implies that Chase may provide coverage for spills and drops, which other issuers might not include.

“Stolen” encompasses items potentially taken without permission and not merely lost. For instance, filing a purchase protection claim for a stolen laptop with a photo of a smashed back window and a police report increases the chances of claim approval compared to a claim merely stating it was “stolen” from a bedroom without additional proof or detail.

Keep in mind, too, that purchase protection may not cover 100% of the purchase price of the item. If the item is simply damaged, your card issuer might ask you to get a quote for repairs before offering to replace the item. 

In addition, if you file a purchase protection claim for an item that’s part of a set — such as one speaker in a 7.1 surround sound setup — your card issuer will typically only cover that specific item, not the whole set. 

Related: Credit card extended warranty benefit: Everything you need to know

What does credit card purchase protection not cover? 

As you might expect, the list of items purchase protection doesn’t cover is pretty extensive. You can read the whole list in your guide to benefits, but here are the highlights:

  • Pre-owned items
  • Animals or living plants
  • Antiques or one-of-a-kind items
  • Consumables and perishables
  • Motorized vehicles
  • Items that are leased or rented
  • Land, buildings, and permanent fixtures
  • Medical and dental equipment
  • Items purchased for commercial use or professional competition (e.g. training materials or sporting equipment)

In addition, purchase protection generally won’t cover items that are:

  • Eligible for a return and full refund
  • Fully covered by your homeowners/renters insurance
  • Lost or misplaced
  • Damaged during delivery
  • Stolen due to negligence (e.g. left in an unlocked vehicle or public place unguarded)

As hinted throughout, there’s a lot of overlap between credit card purchase protection and your renters/homeowners insurance. So before moving on, let’s clarify how they can work together to maximize your protection. 

Credit Card Purchase protection vs. renters/homeowners insurance

Credit card purchase protection and renters/homeowners insurance can both cover damage or theft of your personal property, even if the property was outside the home when the incident occurred.

The key difference is that purchase protection functions as secondary coverage. It typically requires you to file a claim with your renters/homeowners insurance first. Then it may cover any outstanding amounts, such as your deductible.

For example, let’s say your new $800 laptop was stolen and your renters' insurance deductible is $500 instead of $1,000. File a claim with your renters' insurance first and get approved for $800, minus your $500 deductible. This puts $300 back in your pocket. 

You’re still out $500, though. Your credit card's purchase protection covers theft, too, so you then file a purchase protection claim with your credit card issuer. Attach your claim settlement showing that you’ve already filed with primary insurance and gotten $300. Seeing that, your credit card issuer approves you for the remaining $500. 

Filing claims with two separate providers can take lots of forms and a few weeks of waiting, but it increases your chances of getting most or all of your money back!

Purchase protection vs. extended warranties

Credit card purchase protection and extended warranties, meanwhile, share no overlap in coverage. 

That’s because both factory and extended warranties only ever cover manufacturer defects, i.e. parts failing entirely on their own. For example, if you’re working on your laptop and the screen suddenly goes black for no discernible reason, that would likely be an issue covered under warranty. 

If you spilled coffee on your laptop and then it went black, now we’re talking about damage and not a defect. In that case, it might be included under your renters' insurance or purchase protection coverage (well, maybe with Chase and Amex, but certainly not Capital One). 

Related: Credit card rental car insurance: What you need to know

Woman holding credit card with laptop.  Guide to which cards has credit cards purchase protection.

Which credit cards offer purchase protection?

If you like the sound of purchase protection and want to maximize your free benefits, which credit cards should you be looking at? 

Here are some examples of credit cards that offer purchase protection: 

Just keep in mind that applying for a new credit card can negatively impact your credit score, so be sure to conduct additional research and planning before picking the right card for your needs. 

How to file a purchase protection claim

Steps for filing a purchase protection claim vary by credit card issuer, but they generally follow this theme: 

  1. Document your damage or theft as best you can. If possible, obtain a police report for the latter. 
  2. File a report with both your renters/homeowners insurance provider (if applicable) and your credit card Benefits Administrator (usually via a telephone number listed in your guide to benefits). 
  3. If instructed, get a written quote on a repair since you may need it for a damage claim. Issuers may require this to be from an authorized repair facility.
  4. File a claim with your renters/homeowners insurance. 
  5. If your renters/homeowners insurance denies your claim or only partially reimburses you (e.g. you’re still on the hook for your deductible), file a purchase protection claim with your Benefits Administrator. 

As for a timeline, card issuers typically give themselves 15 days to respond to a claim. It may be a similar story with your renters/homeowners insurance provider. It could be faster, but it could also be slower if they need to reach out for additional questions or documentation. 

In other words, don’t expect to get a check right away. 

Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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I'm an award-winning lawyer and personal finance expert featured in Inc. Magazine, CNBC, the Today Show, Business Insider and more. My mission is to make personal finance accessible for everyone. As the largest financial influencer in the world, I'm connected to a community of over 20 million followers across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. I'm also the host of the podcast Erika Taught Me. You might recognize me from my viral tagline, "I read the fine print so you don't have to!"

I'm a graduate of Georgetown Law, where I founded the Georgetown Law Entrepreneurship Club, and the University of Notre Dame. I discovered my passion for personal finance after realizing I was drowning in over $200,000 of student debt and needed to take action-ultimately paying off my student loans in under 2 years. I then spent years as a corporate lawyer representing Fortune 500 companies, but I quit because I realized I wanted to have an impact; I wanted to help real people and teach them that you can create a financial future for yourself.

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Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our aim is to help you make financial decisions with confidence through our objective article content and reviews. Erika.com is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as MileValue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. This in no way affects our recommendations or article content.