We’ve all been there. Searching for our phones, tablets, or something else important…

And you just can’t find it.

You check all the usual places, with absolutely no luck.

Sometimes you find it hidden underneath some paper or between the couch cushions…and sometimes it’s been stolen.

But did you know if it was bought with your credit card, you might be eligible for purchase protection?

This is an underhyped credit card perk that’s often referred to as purchase insurance or security, and it could save your life big time if your item was stolen or damaged.

What is purchase protection?

Purchase protection is a benefit that will replace, repair, or reimburse you for items that were bought with your credit card and have been lost, stolen, or damaged. Don’t start filing your claim now, though, because it often comes with a catch.

Remember that although your issuer does provide this insurance, it doesn’t mean that your card is eligible for the maximum length, amount of coverage, or benefit in general. It’s good to brush up on what exactly your card offers before making a claim.

Eligible Visa Signature, World and World Elite Mastercards, and American Express cards often offer purchase protection, and those are the main credit cards we’ll be focusing on today.

Here’s everything you need to know about purchase protection, from how long you have to file a claim, to how long it takes to get reimbursed – and everything in between.

How long does it last?

Your coverage can last anywhere from 90 days to 180 days from the purchase of your item, depending on your issuer and card type.

For American Express cards, the coverage is up to 120 days from the date of purchase if it’s stolen or accidentally damaged. For residents of New York, Indiana, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Northern Mariana Islands, the coverage duration is 90 days.

For Mastercard and Visa, your purchases are protected up to a maximum of 180 days from the date of purchase.

Just note that these lengths are maximums. The exact length of coverage depends on the card.

What’s covered?

The first thing to remember when wondering if your item qualifies for your issuer’s purchase protection is that it must have been purchased in full with your credit card.

The next step is to go through your agreement and make sure it’s not an excluded item.

If you meet both of these criteria, you’re likely good to go.

What’s not covered?

Depending on your issuer, your item might not be covered. Common items that aren’t covered by purchase protection are:

  • lost items,
  • items that have been lost, stolen, or damaged while under the care of a third party or common carrier (including airlines, postal services, etc),
  • used, antiques, collectibles, or items with monetary value including tickets, traveler’s checks, etc.
  • vehicles, and
  • perishables, including plants or animals.

There are more, but it’s best to check your specific agreement to make sure your item isn’t on the “not covered” list.

Maximum payouts per claim

If your item is really expensive, it might not be fully covered.

For American Express, the coverage is limited up to $1,000 USD per claim, up to $50,000 USD per Card Member account per year.

If you’re a Mastercard holder, you’re covered for up to $1,000 USD per claim, up to a maximum of $50,000 USD over a year.

For Visa cardholders, you’re eligible for $500 USD per claim, up to a maximum of $50,000 per year.

Keep in mind that these are the minimum amounts per issuer, and your card may be eligible for more.

How do you file a claim?

Often, claims are filed online or on the phone.

For American Express, you can visit this website, or call 1-800-322-1277.

To file a claim with Mastercard, you can visit this website you can call 1-800-627-8372.

To file a claim with Visa, you should visit this website, or send an email to [email protected] – you can even mail it in, too:

Claims Administrator

Visa Card Benefits Administration

Maipú 255, Piso 17

C1084ABE, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Just remember to keep these documents on hand:

  • your credit card statement showing the purchase,
  • your receipt or invoice for the purchase,
  • a police report if the item has been stolen, or
  • a copy of the repair bill or estimate, if the item has been damaged, and
  • any other additional information you think you might need, depending on your item.

How long do you have to file a claim?

Remember not to wait too long to file your claim.

For American Express, you have 30 days.

For Mastercard, you have 180 days, and for Visa, you have 120.

How long does it take to get reimbursed?

Provided all of your paperwork is in order and has been reviewed, American Express will reimburse you within 30 days, Mastercard doesn’t specify in their terms and conditions, and Visa states within 5 business days.

What’s the difference between purchase security, price protection, and extended warranty?

The difference between these 3 is that with purchase security, you’re covered under accidental damage or theft.

With price protection, you’re guaranteed the lowest price, and with an extended warranty – any warranty is prolonged past an original warranty offered with a product.

Best credit cards with purchase protection

Looking for some of the best cards that offer this nice-to-have perk?

Credit card Annual fee Length of purchase protection Base earn rate Welcome bonus Apply
Wyndham Rewards Visa $0 90 days * 3 points per dollar spent on participating Wyndham hotel stays
* 2 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, and utility purchases
* 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
15,000 points after your first purchase (terms) Apply now
Citi Double Cash Card $0 90 days * 1% cash back on all spending
* Extra 1% cash back when you pay your bill on time
None Apply now
Wells Fargo Propel American Express $0 90 days * 3 points per $1 on eating out and ordering in, gas, rideshares, and transit,
flights, hotels, homestays, and car rentals,
popular streaming services
* 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months (terms) Apply now

If you’re looking for a card with nice earn rates, worldwide acceptance (even at Costco), then the might be your card.

It’s got 90 days purchase protection, no annual fee, and will earn you:

  • 3 points per $1 spent on participating Wyndham hotel stays,
  • 2 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, and utility purchases, and
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Related: When Is It Worth It To Pay A Credit Card Annual Fee?

If cash back is more your speed, the will earn you:

  • 1% cash back on all spending, and
  • 1% extra if you pay your bill on time.

It also has no annual fee and 90 days of purchase protection.

If you like to eat, drive a lot, or watch Netflix on the daily, the could be for you.

It’ll earn you 3 points per $1 on:

  • eating out,
  • ordering in,
  • gas,
  • rideshares,
  • transit,
  • flights,
  • hotels,
  • homestays,
  • car rentals, and
  • popular streaming services.

Then 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.

All that for no annual fee and 90 days of purchase protection.

We want to hear from you

Does your card come with purchase protection?

Have you ever taken advantage of it?

Let us know in the comments below.