Posted by Chuck on March 4, 2019
Credit Cards

Published on March 4th, 2019 | by Chuck

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Credit Card Benefits: Return Protection Review

Return Protection Overview

Many credit cards offers a Return Protection benefit which allows you to return any item after it was purchased when the retailer won’t take it back. The beauty of this benefit is that the bank will take it back even if it’s been used, so long as it’s in new condition.

This is a cool benefit since it can take a lot of the decision-making process out of buying, which is precisely the purpose of the benefit. Instead of spending a long time debating the purchase, you can just buy and you have 90 days to make the final decision.

Technically, you can even file a claim for a $5 pair of socks, though most people don’t bother filing for small purchases. The benefit maxes out at $250-$500 so it won’t help for expensive purchases.

General Details

  • Benefit can only be used if the seller won’t accept the return.
  • No need to register your item at time of purchase. It’s automatic when purchased with an eligible card.
  • Purchase must be made ENTIRELY with the covered card. If you split the payment between two cards or pay partially with a gift card, you won’t get any coverage at all. (This may not always be enforced.)
  • Coverage is secondary.
  • The banks can ask you to send the item back to a processing center so they can verify eligibility or so they can sell off the item or have it donated to charity. Some card issuers even cover the shipping costs to send in the item.
  • Be sure to get an itemized receipt at checkout. Some local shops just swipe your card and give you a credit card receipt, not an itemized receipt. You’ll want a full receipt, even if it’s handwritten.

Potential uses of Return Protection:

  • When buying from a retailer who doesn’t offer returns
  • If the retailer only allows returns for a week or a month, the card’s Return Protection can give you longer
  • Many items can’t be returned to the store after they were opened/used, the card’s return protection will accept the return

Non-eligible Items

Here is a sample list of exclusions. Check the details in each issuers terms for a fuller list.

Sample exclusions: services, cash equivalents like gift cards, tickets, books, magazines, jewelry, watches, seasonal items, consumable and perishable items, computer software, custom items, healthcare items.

Amex

Amex Return Protection (pdf)

All Amex credit and charge card have the Return Protection benefit, personal card and small business cards alike, with the exception of some business cards like Blue Business Plus card and SimplyCash Plus. (In practice, it might be possible to file a case on those cards too. Data points needed.)

For all cards that have the benefit it works as follows:

  • Max $300 per claim
  • Max  $1,000 per calendar year per card (this limit is separate on each Amex account)
  • Must file claim within 90 days of purchase
  • To be eligible, an item must be in the original purchase condition (not visibly used, defective, or damaged in any way) and must be in working order

How to File a Claim

To file a claim, go to this link and click Enter Claims Center Now to file. Or call 1-800-297-8019 to file a claim with a human.

Chase (CSR, Ritz)

Chase Return Protection | Ritz

Only the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Ritz-Carlton cards offers a Return Protection benefit. All other Chase cards no longer offer the benefit.

  • Max $500 per item
  • Max  $1,000 per calendar year
  • Must file claim within 90 days of purchase
  • Benefit Administrator must receive the item in like-new/good working condition
  • If more than one method of payment was used, documentation linking the entire payment to the Account must be included
  • Customers who file a claim within thirty (30) days of the date of the purchase may be asked to submit proof of the store’s return policy

How to File

Call 1-888-675-1461 to file.

Citi

Update: Citi will end the Return Protection benefit entirely on September 22, 2019.

Citi Return Protection (pdf)

Citi offers a Return Protection benefit. I believe this is the case for most Citi credit cards, though the Costco card does not have the benefit, and there may be others too. I’m unsure if Citi business cards also have this benefit.

  • Max $300 per item
  • Max $1,00 per calendar year (per Citi card, presumably)
  • 90-day Return Protection
  • When returning the item, we must receive it in like-new and good working condition with all the original parts

How to File a Claim

To file a claim, call 1-866-918-4670 within 30 days of when you attempt to return the item. Or you can visit www.cardbenefits.citi.com to download a claim form for submission.

Discover

Discover no longer offers the Return Guarantee benefit since February 2018. For details on how their benefit works until that point, see this post. 

Visa Benefits

Visa Signature | Visa Infinite

I found two set of terms for Visa’s Return Protection benefit. It appears that one is for Visa Signature cards and an enhanced version for Visa Infinite cards. Visa cards which are not Signature probably don’t have any Return Protection at all, and it’s possible that even some Visa Signature cards don’t have it.

  • Max $250 for Visa Signature, $300 for Visa Infinite
  • Return Protection is for 90 days
  • The item must be received in like-new/good working condition for your claim to be approved

How to File a Claim

Call the Benefit Administrator at 1-888-221-3289 within 90 days of purchase.

Mastercard Benefits

Mastercard Satisfaction Guarantee (pdf)

Mastercard has a ‘Satisfaction Guarantee’ benefit. It’s possible this benefit does not apply on all Mastercards. (Also note, some Mastercards may have their own, separate coverage, such as the Barclaycard Arrival+ and Mastercards issued by Citibank.)

  • Max $250 per claim
  • Max 4 claims per cardholders per 12 month period
  • Items must be purchased from a store that provides a return or exchange policy of at least ten (10) days
  • Must file claim within 60 days of purchase
  • Coverage is limited to the actual cost of the item (excluding taxes, storage, shipping, and handling costs)
  • Items must be returned undamaged, in good working condition, and in its original and complete packaging
  • You are responsible for all mailing costs

How to File a Claim

Call 1-800-MasterCard to request a claim form.

Barclaycard Arrival+

Mastercard World Elite Benefits for Barclaycard Arrival+ (pdf)

The Barclay Arrival Plus card also offers the Return Protection benefit. The benefit is administered within Mastercard World Elite benefits; it’s quite possible other World or World Elite cards have the same benefit terms. Arrival+ benefits are identical to those of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Terms (above).

  • Max $500 per item
  • Max  $1,000 per calendar year
  • Must file claim within 90 days of purchase
  • Benefit Administrator must receive the item in like-new/good working condition
  • If more than one method of payment was used, documentation linking the entire payment to the Account must be included
  • Customers who file a claim within thirty (30) days of the date of the purchase may be asked to submit proof of the store’s return policy

How to File a Claim

Call the Benefit Administrator at 888-565-8472 within ninety (90) days of the date of purchase.

Other Banks

Some cards from other banks may have Return Protection coverage as part of Visa and Mastercard benefits.

Quick Comparison

Quick comparison of some key details:

  • American Express covers the sales tax too while Mastercard does not. Chase/Arrival+ are ambiguous on this point. Citi terms exclude it; in practice, some report they do cover the sales tax while others say they don’t.
  • No issuer covers shipping costs from when you purchased the item, but Amex covers the shipping costs to send them the item (in the event they request you send them the item). Citi also sends you a prepaid label to ship it back. With Chase the shipping cost is on you.
  • Chase/Arrival+ covers $500, Amex and Citi $300, Mastercard $250.
  • Mastercard requires that the item have a 10 day return policy while all the others will cover for items with no return policy at all.
  • Amex, Citi, Chase/Arrival+ offer 90 day protection, Mastercard only offers 60 days.
  • Mastercard requires you return the item in original and complete packaging, the other issuers do not have such a requirement.
  • Amex, Citi, and Chase/Arrival+ limit the benefit to purchases within the United States (and territories) while Mastercard does not seem to have that limitation.
  • The Amex terms seem to be slightly more strict on the condition of the item (“in original purchase condition, not visibly used”) while the other issuers require only that it’s in good working condition.
  • Most Amex business cards also have the Return Protection benefit (BBP and SCP are exceptions, as noted). I’m unsure if Citi business cards have the benefit.

Final Thoughts

It’s hard to know which Visa and Mastercards are covered by Visa and Mastercard benefits. The cards we know for certain have the benefit is all Amex and Citi cards, as well as the Chase CSR/Ritz and the Barclaycard Arrival+.

  • Amex promises to cover your cost to ship the item in to them (in the event they request you send it in), another big plus. Citi also sends a prepaid label.
  • Chase/Arrival+ win on more expensive items due to the higher $500 limit.
  • It’s yet unclear whether sales tax is covered on Citi, Chase, or Arrival+ coverage. Amex does cover sales tax.

We usually focus on getting the higher rewards rate on purchases, but it’s worth thinking about which card to use for kinds of purchases which need protection. You also have to balance the various protections to see what’s most important. Overall, Citi cards have the best rounded coverage since they offer terrific extended warranty, good return protection, purchase protection, and price protection, but the nature of the purchase and which protections you value most will help decide which card is best for your purchase.



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Justin
Justin

I can say from personal experience using this benefit on a cell phone that Citi provided a pre paid shipping label to send the item to their liquidator, in my case a pawn shop.

Casual Churner
Casual Churner

From my personal experience Citi Prestige does cover sales tax. Recently I submitted a return claim about something bought at Target, around $50. Citi reimbursed the whole purchase price plus tax, and didn’t take it back, presumably due to the cost compared to the value of the claim.

ian
ian

shipping costs is a big deal as it can frequently make the benefit useless if they ask you to send it back and it is an expensive item to ship. in my experience, citi and amex cover shipping costs while chase does not.

this benefit is unfortunately the easiest to abuse because they will frequently not ask for the item back if the item is not particularly easy to refurbish and resell or if the item is not particularly valuable. i can see why chase eliminated it on most cards.

Zorn
Zorn

I’ve used the benefit before with Amex, and no matter what the item they have never asked for it back.

James Silver
James Silver

I just use Amex Return protection yesterday, and the claim went smoothly. I bought a jacket from Colombia 3 months ago, but I canceled the trip to Canada and change to Thailand instead, so I went to the store to return it(within return policy of 60 days), but when I went to return there I forgot my card at home, so the store would only give me a gift card. I did not return to store since I did not really want a gift card, and the jacket was not so bad so I don’t mind keeping it, but I did try to file claim with Amex on day 90th from the day I bought the jacket. And somehow, it claim went through! And yesterday I called them about return instruction, but they do not need it! I feel like Amex is alway on customer side. The fraud claim and dispute alway easy to file.
Ps. I used Amex platinum to buy it.

LB
LB

In my experience, Amex Platinum return protection has been as good as one could expect. I’ve called in to use it a few times on purchases in the $20-50 range, and they’ve simply issued me a credit with no questions or request to ship. Calls took less than 2 minutes. Maybe a different story for more expensive items; hopefully someone else can shed light on that.

Staradmiral
Staradmiral

It doesn’t matter which Amex card you use. Your claim gets processed the same where you have an Amex platinum or not. just like you, my items under $50 were processed quickly online. I have never filed a claim by phone. I did file a claim for the maximum $300 and it also went smoothly but will take 1-3 weeks.

Steven
Steven

I’ve used both Chase and Citi return protection,Chase makes you pay for shipping while Citi will send you a label if they want the item. Not all Citi cards have return protection. I had it on my AAdvantage Executive and Premier cards. My Citi Costco card does not have return protection.

wolf
wolf

I have blue business plus and was able to get return protection claims approved more than once. why would that card not have that benefit?

Brian C
Brian C

Also interested in more details on this.

My BBP (and Simply AMEX Plus) don’t show the option for return protection on the amex claim site

E

BBP and SimplyCash have to be done over the phone. I’ve done it before too. I now use other cards just b/c I hate filing over the phone.

Chucks
Chucks

Return protection is quite nice because it lets you try things risk free.

With Citi, between return protection, damage and theft coverage and extended warranty it kind of means you’re covered if anything breaks for years after you buy it. Honestly it’s a great excuse to get a cheaper item, because you’ll get a new one when it inevitably breaks.

Jab
Jab

Can confirm amex return protection is a breeze. But when I consider a larger purchase I’d like to have better extended warranty in addition to return protection and with that in mind citi wins.

Brian C
Brian C

Amex return protection is the best. I can confirm a few data points.

1. They DO refund shipping, you pay yourself on ANY card (doesn’t even have to be amex) and they reimburse you on the amex card with the claim (so you get the claim amount and a 2nd credit for the shipping amount.

2. I can confirm you do NOT have to have the whole purchase covered by the card. I have made a purchase with amazon gift cards applied, and they refunded the part i paid with my amex card, no questions asked.

3. I can confirm that EACH account (INCLUDING AUTHORIZED USERS) have their own $1000 yearly limit.

Citi is good too, but not as good as Amex

Hank
Hank

I love it. I make most of my larger purchases with my Amex just in case I need to use it. Chase lost out on all those purchases when they killed return protection on most their cards.

Max
Max

Does this mean that the Ritz Carlton Chase would still have the infinite return benefit since it is a Visa infinite, or did Chase break a deal with Visa that allows them to not offer this benefit even though Chase cards are Signature/Infinite?

Brian
Brian

Chuck The Chase Ritz Carlton card still offers return protection. Here’s a link: https://creditcards.chase.com/marriott/cardmember/ritz-carlton/protection

I also confirmed this via SM after return protection was removed from most other Chase cards back in August.

Charlie
Charlie

When would a person use the generic Visa Signature or Visa Infinite benefits? Would they, for example, work on one of the NFCU cards if it is a Visa Signature? Would they work on the Chase United Explorer even though Chase removed the benefit? If a person has a CSR, would it be better to file with Chase or with Visa?

Aferrell21
Aferrell21

Thank you for this post!
Completely forgot about this benifit on my Amex cards.Need to buy a new set of airpods but wanted to hold off due to rumors of a new model coming out. Going to buy the current pair and if a new model comes out I will just submit a claim and return them to Amex instead of Apple.

Frank

A claim for what though?

Brian C
Brian C

Chuck Citi does not reimburse for Tax

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