Did you know your credit card can cover things that break or get stolen?
Am I covered?
How do I file a claim?
Why is American Express the industry-leader?
How does this work exactly?
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s lost or broken stuff. Maybe you’ve cracked your notoriously fragile iPhone screen. Or perhaps your new (and expensive) DSLR-camera got nicked while on vacation. In my world, the possibilities for these mishaps are truly endless.
Losing stuff is frustrating, especially after you’ve just bought it.
But don’t fret just yet, because American Express cards cover items that break or get stolen (and even things you just lose!) – for up to 90 days after purchase. It’s offered through this great program called Purchase Protection.
Good news: AMEX includes Purchase Protection as a benefit on all of its cards shown here. You’ll notice that nearly all AMEX cards offer this benefit, so chances are you’re already covered. The annual maximum is also pretty generous at $50,000 per year for most cards.
If you’re losing more than $50,000 worth of new stuff every year, you probably have bigger problems to worry about.
The not-as-good news:
- The coverage amount per claim is capped at $1,000 per incident. The Platinum Card, however, ups this amount to $10,000 per incident, though still subject to the $50,000 annual maximum.
- Not all items are covered. Most of the exclusions are reasonable and include such items as food, animals, aircraft (!), and priceless-for-insurance-purposes items. You can find a detailed list in the footnote below.
- Not all loss situations are covered. Most of these exclusions are typical insurance industry standard exceptions. For example, you are not covered if you lose an item in a “war or any act of war,” “a riot,” or “natural disaster.”
- You need to file a claim within 30 days of the loss, and items are covered only up to 90 days from the date of purchase.
These provisions apply to most cards, but are (surprise) subject to change. As a best practice, you should read up on the terms and policies specific to your account by finding your card on this page and clicking “View Policy.”
Despite all these seemingly heavy-handed exclusions and legal terms, these benefits really are generous and will probably cover most of the situations you find yourself in.
It also never hurts to ask, and you can always call up the number on the back of your card to see if this benefit applies to your specific situation. Just ask to speak to someone about a “Purchase Protection claim.”
You can file a claim by phone (call the number on the back of your card) or online using your American Express account. This second option is especially convenient.
In addition to providing the information that they ask for (description of item, circumstances of loss, etc.), you should keep handy:
- A receipt detailing the merchant, item, and price paid including taxes.
- A police report if something was stolen. Unless you’re in an urgent emergency situation, you do not have to call 911 to get a police report. Most cities have a 311-esque “non-urgent” police number, and you might find yours by searching “non-urgent police [your city/town/village name]” on Google. If this incident happens abroad, do everything you can to get that police report before you return home.
- The damaged item for which you are filing a claim (in case they ask you to ship it in).
- Any insurance claim that you may have already made with a third party (e.g., renter’s insurance), since Purchase Protection is in excess of that.
You’ll notice that American Express does not ask for these items up-front. In my personal experience, I’ve found that American Express will occasionally process your claim without asking for additional documentation or the damaged item. This is especially true for low value items (usually <$100 though this likely depends on your spending history) that probably aren’t worth the paperwork.
But every situation is different, so you should at least get ready to send the information listed above.
On a completely unrelated note, and this probably goes without saying, but fraud is bad, and AMEX will know. AMEX always knows.
Many credit cards on the market today offer retail purchase protection, not just American Express cards. In fact, many major credit providers in the United States offer at least some type of insurance for recently purchased items. This benefit might also be included in the type of card you have (e.g., Visa Signature or World Mastercard).
So why do I think AMEX is the best?
1. It’s easy to file a claim.
As of now, American Express is the only major credit card provider that lets you file a claim entirely online. That means no waiting on hold for hours, mailing bundles of documents, or scanning receipts to some third-party insurance company. As a result, they’re often the quickest to review claims.
I’ve also found American Express to be the most trusting when approving claims.
When I cracked a coffee dripper purchased on my Discover card, Discover had me scan a signed form, send in the receipt, write a screenplay-worthy scenario detailing my clumsiness, and send a picture of the broken item. They also intimated that I might have to ship the item to them, which wouldn’t have been worth the hassle for a $20 coffee maker. Thankfully, Discover let me dispose of the dripper in the end, but the whole process took over a month of back-and-forth with Discover’s third-party claims company.
With American Express, I’ve only had to detail what happened online or over the phone, and they’ve processed all my claims within 72 hours of filing, sometimes within a few hours.
2. AMEX’s terms are the most generous.
People want different things. So I suppose you could argue that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers the most generous purchase protection since it’ll cover items up to 120 days from the loss date, compared with AMEX’s 90 days.
But in my opinion, AMEX’s Purchase Protection is the best in the business. Here’s why:
Higher coverage maximums. AMEX covers up to $1,000 per incident, as opposed to the $500 which seems to be industry-standard nowadays. As I mentioned before, the Platinum Charge Card (and all its personal and business variations, though not the Delta Skymiles Platinum card), will cover up to $10,000 per incident. There is no limit on the number of valid claims you can file.
The Platinum Card also covers losses in addition to “theft” and “damage.” This works exactly how it sounds. If you just happen to lose something (i.e. involuntarily and accidentally part with or otherwise permanently misplace an item) the Platinum Card’s Purchase Protection benefit still applies. This is pretty amazing, especially for someone who tends to lose things.
For the better part of this year, I walked around with a Fitbit, a little “exercise” device that tracked how many steps I took. Since I traveled a lot for work, the vast majority of these steps probably accumulated in an airport somewhere. And given how clumsy and forgetful I am, it should come as no surprise that I inadvertently left my Fitbit at a TSA security check-point, not once, but twice.
Yes, I lost two Fitbits in about 2 months. I’m an idiot, I know.
I clearly did not intend to lose my Fitbit, and I did everything in my power to try to recover it. I rummaged through my bags, emailed and called the TSA, and so on, but to no avail. So I sheepishly wrote up a claims report online, twice, and apologized for my red-eye-riddled absent-mindedness.
In both cases, I was amazed to see my claims – in the amount of about $108 each – approved within 48 hours. No interrogation. No 10-page mea culpa. No month-long wait for a check in the mail. Just two “sorry you lost your item” emails, with the statement credits following shortly thereafter.
You’ll need to charge a purchase to a Platinum Card to have lost items covered, but just about every other American Express card (including the ones without an annual fee) covers damaged and stolen items.
That’s the beauty of Purchase Protection from American Express. Check and see if you’re covered today!
PURCHASES NOT COVERED
The following purchases are not covered: 1. travelers checks, tickets of any kind, negotiable instruments (including, but not limited to, gift certificates, gift cards and gift checks), cash or its equivalent; 2. animals or living plants; 3. rare stamps or coins; 4. consumable or perishable items with limited life spans (including, but not limited to, perfume, light bulbs, batteries); 5. antique or previously owned items; 6. motorized vehicles and watercraft, aircraft, and motorcycles or their motors, equipment, parts or accessories; 7. stolen or damaged property consisting of articles in a pair or set. Coverage will be limited to no more than the value of any particular part or parts, unless the articles are unusable individually and cannot be replaced individually, regardless of any special value they may have had as part of a set or collection; 8. items purchased for resale, professional, or commercial use; 9. permanent household and/or business fixtures, including, but not limited to, carpeting, flooring and/or tile; 10. Business fixtures, including, but not limited to, air conditioners, refrigerators, heaters; and 11. hospital, medical and dental equipment and devices.
-From the Purchase Protection terms for a Green Card, available here.
1. war or any act of war, whether declared or undeclared; 2. any activity directly related to and occurring while in the service of any armed military force of any nation state recognized by the
United Nations; 3. participation in a riot, civil disturbance, protest or insurrection; 4. violation of a criminal law, offense or infraction; 5. natural disasters, including, but not limited to, hurricanes, floods, tornados, earthquakes or any other event in the course of nature, that occurs at the same time or in separate instances; 6. fraud or abuse or illegal activity of any kind by the Cardmember; 7. confiscation by any governmental authority, public authority, or customs official; 8. negligent failure of a duty to care by any third party in whose possession the property purchased by a Cardmember has been temporarily placed; 9. not being reasonably safeguarded by You; 10. theft from baggage not carried by hand and under Your personal supervision or under the supervision of a traveling companion known by You; 11. damage through alteration (including, but not limited to, cutting, sawing and shaping); 12. normal wear and tear, inherent product defect or manufacturer’s defects or normal course of play; 13. damage or theft while under the care and control of a common carrier; 14. food spoilage;15. leaving property at an unoccupied construction site; or 16. purchases lost or misplaced.
-From the Purchase Protection terms for a Green Card, available here. Note that the Platinum Card WILL cover “purchases lost or misplaced.”