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One of the great perks about using a credit card to make a purchase is that you’ll usually receive built-in protections for that purchase. This is especially the case with Amex cards. One of these special protections is return protection.
In this article, I’ll explain what Amex return protection is and how it works. I’ll also show you how to file a claim if you need to and talk about some of the limitations and excluded items, some of which you might not have expected to be excluded.
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What is American Express return protection?
Return protection is a special perk that allows you to receive a refund from American Express when the store has refused to allow you to return the product.
If you try to return an eligible item within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, American Express may refund the full purchase price, up to $300 per item (excluding shipping and handling charges).
Amex will reimburse you up to a maximum of $1,000 per Card Member account per calendar year based on the date of purchase. So the key limitations are that the return attempt must be made within 90 days of purchase and that you can reimbursed up to a maximum of $300.
What Amex cards offer return protection?
Virtually every Amex card will offer return protection. Here are some of the different Amex cards that you might look to for this coverage:
- Amex EveryDay
- Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card
- American Express Green Card
- Amex Gold Card
- American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card
- Business Gold Rewards Card
- Business Platinum Card
- Blue Cash from American Express
- Blue Cash Everyday from American Express
- Blue Cash Preferred from American Express
- Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve Credit Card
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
- Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
- Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express
- Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
- Platinum Card from American Express
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card
You do not have to enroll your Amex card into any special kind of program as the protection is built in to your card’s benefits.
You can search for the terms for your specific card here.
Amex return protection limitations
As you would expect with a benefit like this, there are going to be quite a few restrictions on the benefit.
The first restriction is related to the location of the purchase. The terms and conditions state that the purchases must be made in:
- 50 United States of America,
- District of Columbia,
- Puerto Rico,
- U.S. Virgin Islands,
- American Samoa,
- Federated States of Micronesia,
- Marshall Islands,
- Guam and
- Northern Mariana Islands
Must use your card
You must also charge the full amount on your eligible Amex card to get a full refund.
As stated, refunds are limited to $300 per eligible item, and $1,000 per Card Member account per calendar year based on the date of purchase, not during the year the claim was filed.
Condition of the product
The item that you purchased must be in the original purchase condition (not visibly used, defective, or damaged in any way) and must be in working order.
Denied attempt for the return
To get coverage, the merchant from which the item was originally purchased must also have denied an attempted return of the item.
Any item purchased from a merchant that has an established return/satisfaction guarantee program which is greater than or equal to the terms of Return Protection, and provides coverage for your claim, will not be eligible for a refund.
Product rebates, discounts or money received from lowest price comparison programs will be deducted from the original cost of the item. The maximum you will be compensated will not exceed the amount charged to the eligible Card Account.
Amex return protection exclusions
There are quite a few items that are excluded from the Amex return protection program. Some of these items are items that you would expect to be excluded like living animals. However, there are a number of items that you might think would otherwise be returnable.
I’ve bolded some of the items that I didn’t expect to be excluded by this program and/or items that you should be aware of.
- Animals and living plants
- One-of-a-kind items (including, but not limited to, antiques, artwork, and furs)
- Limited edition items
- Going-out-of-business sale items
- Consumable or perishable items with limited life spans (including, but not limited to, food, perfume, light bulbs, and batteries)
- Jewelry (including, but not limited to, loose gems, precious stones, metals, and pearls)
- Services and additional costs (including, but not limited to, installation charges, warranties, shipping, handling or memberships)
- Rare and precious coins
- Purchased used and/or altered items (including, but not limited to, purchases at auction sites and second- hand stores)
- Custom-built items
- Compact discs, digital video discs, mini discs, audiotapes, videotapes
- Computer software
- Firmware (including, but not limited to, console games, etc.)
- Books, magazines or periodicals of any kind
- Health care items and /or medical equipment (including, but not limited to, blood pressure machines and diabetes equipment, items or supplies used for maternity care)
- Personal hygiene items (including, but not limited to, all electrical or non-electrical toothbrushes, razors, or any devices (medical or non-medical) that have been personally used and could be considered a health risk to others);
- Formal wear (including, but not limited to, bridal wear, gowns, prom dresses, and tuxedos)
- Tickets of any kind (including, but not limited to, transportation passes or tickets and event tickets)
- Motorized vehicles (including, but not limited to, cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and airplanes), their parts and accessories (e.g. car battery) as well as those parts and accessories intended for use with the motorized vehicles (e.g. a trailer or audio or visual components)
- Land, buildings and fixtures (including but not limited to, central air conditioner, built-in kitchen appliance and water heater)
- Negotiable instruments (including, but not limited to, promissory notes, stamps, and travelers checks)
- Cash and its equivalent (including, but not limited to, gift cards and gift certificates)
- Items permanently affixed to home, office, vehicles, etc. (including, but not limited to, garage door openers and car alarms)
- Seasonal items (including but not limited to holiday decorations and costumes)
Some places will allow you to return your product outside of their return policy window but only if you pay a hefty restocking fee. This policy is great way to get around those.
Other times, you might be told that you’ll have to pay a restocking fee for any return. In the past, people have had success with getting restocking fees reimbursed. I haven’t seen recent data points on this but I would definitely give it a try and see what happens.
It’s pretty common to purchase items that are “final sale” meaning that the merchant won’t allow you to return these items. When this happens, you should still be covered Amex return protection.
How to file a purchase protection claim
Once you have verified that the merchant will not accept the eligible item, you can file your claim either online or over the phone.
To file a claim online visit www.AmericanExpress.com/onlineclaim within 90 days of your purchase. (Note: the online method is currently not working).
You can also call 1-800-297-8019 within 90 days of the purchase date to notify Amex of your request.
Within 30 days of that phone call, Amex will need you to send in the following:
- A copy of the original store receipt
- A copy of the American Express Card record of charge
- Any other items deemed reasonable by us to process your request
Be sure to keep the item in an easily retrievable place because once your request has been reviewed and deemed eligible, you may be asked to send the item to Amex within 30 days for further evaluation.
You will also need to keep a record of your shipping receipt, as you will need to provide proof of shipping in the event that your eligible item is not received. Amex will reimburse you for all shipping costs.
In reality, you’re not always asked to send in your receipts or even the item you couldn’t return. This is true for cheaper items but if you’re dealing with more expensive items (i.e., those close to $300), Amex might require you to send them in.
If you don’t have to send any additional items to Amex, you might get reimbursed for your item very quickly — sometimes within just a couple of days.
Return protection phone number
If you have any questions you can call the Return protection phone number at 1-800-297-8019.
American Express purchase protection is a solid benefit that you should definitely consider taking advantage of. The key with perks like this is to act promptly and to keep track of your documentation.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the digital smart wallet, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.