*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated Dec 12, 2018. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
Have you ever tried to return a new item and been denied a refund by the merchant? This can be a frustrating and costly experience, but if you used a select credit card to pay for the item, you may be still be able to get that refund.
Credit card issuers often offer extended warranty or purchase protection on purchases made with a card, which can be helpful if items are damaged, lost or stolen, but those protections don’t help you with basic returns. Plus, some issuers provide protection for items you purchase that are in working condition, but simply won’t be accepted back by the merchant.
Known as return protection, this benefit may allow you to be reimbursed on an eligible purchases when the merchant refuses to work with you. To take advantage of return protection benefits, you must pay for the item in full with your eligible credit card and submit a claim typically within 90 days of purchase. That means you can’t use a gift card or cash for some of the cost, then your credit card for the remaining balance.
In addition, the item you return often will need to be in like-new or good working condition with all the original parts. Note, the specific terms for return protection vary by issuer (see the list below), so you should review your card’s benefits guide to find out exactly what’s covered.
Here we’ll review the return protection plans provided by major issuers, their exclusions and how you can file a claim.
Return protection by issuer
This past year, issuers have cut back on return protection benefits — and some, like Chase and Discover, even did away with the benefit altogether. However, we found two issuers that offer return protection benefits — American Express and Citibank.
Other issuers that don’t offer return protection include Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One, and Wells Fargo. Since few issuers offer return protection benefits, and if this is something you’re looking for, you should consider cards from Amex or Citi. Just keep in mind that return protection benefits may be discontinued at anytime — therefore it shouldn’t be the primary reason you choose a credit card.
|Issuer||Maximum coverage per item||Maximum coverage per calendar year per account||Return window|
|American Express||$300||$1,000||Within 90 days of purchase|
|Citibank||$300||$1,000||Within 90 days of purchase|
*Additional terms and limitations apply to return protection benefits. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.
Popular American Express cards with return protection:
60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.*
Up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees & more at one qualifying airline*
No foreign transaction fees & exclusive airport lounge access*
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for The Platinum Card® from American Express
Popular Citi cards with return protection:
0%* for 12 months on Purchases*
0%* for 21 months on Balance Transfers*
16.49% - 26.49%* (Variable)
- No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
- 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.49% - 26.49%, based on your creditworthiness
- 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 16.49% - 26.49%, based on your creditworthiness
- If you transfer a balance with this offer, after your 0% Intro purchase APR expires, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balances, are paid in full
- There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
- The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period
- Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day – just say "representative"
- Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month
See additional details for Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.
0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers
15.74%– 25.74% (Variable)
- Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
- To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
- Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.74%– 25.74% based on your creditworthiness.
- Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
- The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.74%– 25.74% based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
See additional details for Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
What are the exclusions?
Not only do these issuers limit the amount of the return protection to $300 per occurrence, this perk doesn’t cover everything you purchase with your credit card. While there are numerous exclusions, many items that are excluded aren’t things you’d typically think to return, such as pets or collectables. In addition to purchase exclusions, shipping and handling costs for the purchase aren’t reimbursable. Items must also have been purchased in the U.S. and its territories.
Here are common items that don’t qualify for return protection:
- Motorized vehicles (cars, boats, motorcycles…) and their attached parts (including tires)
- Computer software or any type of video, digital, or audio discs or tapes, including video games
- Collectable, one-of-a-kind, custom-built, and limited edition items (antiques, coins, furs, art, sports memorabilia, stamps, for example)
- Going-out-of-business sale items
- Services and additional costs (installation charges, warranties, memberships)
- Cash (including rare or precious coins), gift cards, checks, promissory notes or any other financial document that represents money
- Tickets (airplane, train, concert, sporting events)
- Items that can spoil or are consumable and need to be replaced after they have been used for a period of time (food, fuel, batteries, medications, beauty products or personal care products)
- Living plants
- Watches or jewelry, including loose gems, precious stones, metals and pearls.
- Furniture or appliances
- Firearms or ammunition
How to file a claim
You can file a return protection claim one of several ways, including calling your bank, submitting a claim form online, or mailing a claim form. In order to file a claim, you’ll need your purchase receipt. Your credit card issuer may also request additional documents, like a copy of the store’s return policy or your monthly statement.
- American Express: 1-800-297-8019 or visit AmericanExpress.com/onlineclaim
- Citibank: 1-866-918-4670 or visit citi.com to download a claim form for submission
Can I keep the item after I file a claim?
No — part of the claims process is mailing your eligible item to the location specified by your credit card issuer. It will need to be inspected to make sure it meets the requirements for reimbursement.