Credit Card Return Protection Ultimate Guide

Credit card return protection allows cardholders to return purchases that retailers won’t accept. 

For example, if you bought a board game and forgot to return it to the store before their 30-day return policy, you could take advantage of your credit card’s return protection to get a refund for purchases made typically within 90 days.

Return protection only extends to purchases made with a credit card that offers return protection, so it’s important to know which cards offer this valuable perk.

It also only extends to items that are in like-new condition and does not extend to items such as tickets, consumable or perishable items, jewelry, medical equipment, or seasonal items.

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How to Use Return Protection

You will first need to file a claim within 90 days to utilize the benefit. You can find the details for each card issuer below.

You will then need to submit documentation, which is typically:

  • A copy of the original store receipt
  • A copy of the credit card charge on an eligible credit card.
  • Copy of the retailer’s return policy and occasionally written documentation from the store stating its refusal to accept the item.

You also may be required to mail the item to the claims administrator, and you may be responsible for the shipping cost.

American Express Return Protection

American Express will refund the full purchase price, up to $300 per eligible item, if a merchant refuses your return within 90 days from the date of the purchase. 

You can use this benefit up to $1,000 per cardmember account per calendar year. 

The purchase must be made within the United States (or U.S. territories), and the exclusions are detailed below.

To file a claim, you need to call 1-800-228-6855 within 90 days of your purchase.

Items not eligible for a refund are:

  1. animals and living plants;
  2. one-of-a-kind items (including, but not limited to, antiques, artwork, and furs);
  3. limited edition items;
  4. going-out-of-business sale items;
  5. consumable or perishable items with limited life spans (including, but not limited to, food, perf ume, light bulbs, and batteries);
  6. jewelry (including, but not limited to, loose gems, precious stones, metals, and pearls);
  7. watches;
  8. services and additional costs (including, but not limited to, installation charges, warranties, shipping, handling or memberships);
  9. rare and precious coins;
  10. purchased used and/or altered items (including, but not limited to, purchases at auction sites and second- hand stores);
  11. custom-built items;
  12. compact discs, digital video discs, mini discs, audiotapes, videotapes;
  13. computer software;
  14. firmware (including, but not limited to, console games,
  15. maps
  16. books, magazines or periodicals of any kind;
  17. 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);
  18. any 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);
  19. formal wear (including, but not limited to, bridal wear, gowns, prom dresses, and tuxedos);
  20. tickets of any kind (including, but not limited to, transportation passes or tickets and event tickets);
  21. 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);
  22. land, buildings and fixtures (including but not limited to, central air conditioner, built -in kitchen appliance and water heater)
  23.  firearms;
  24.  ammunition;
  25. negotiable instruments (including, but not limited to, promissory notes, stamps, and travelers checks);
  26. cash and its equivalent (including, but not limited to, gift cards and gift certificates); and
  27. items permanently affixed to home, office, vehicles, (including, but not limited to, garage door openers and car alarms);
  28. seasonal items (including but not limited to holiday decorations and costumes)

Chase Return Protection

Chase Return Protection provides reimbursement for eligible purchases up to $500 per item with an annual maximum of $1,000 per account.

Eligible cards include Sapphire ReserveUnited Club Infinite, and United Club Business credit cards.

Only purchases by the primary cardholder are eligible. Purchases by authorized users are not eligible for return protection.

You can file a claim by phone (1-800-874-7702) or online.

The Return Protection benefit does not cover the following purchases:

  • Animals and living plants
  • Boats, aircraft, automobiles, and any other motorized vehicles and their motors, equipment, or accessories, including trailers and other items that can be towed by, or attached to, any motorized vehicle
  • Cash, bullion, traveler’s checks, tickets, credit or debit cards, and any other negotiable instruments
  • Computer software
  • Damaged or non–working items
  • Formal attire, including but not limited to, cocktail dresses, tuxedos, gowns, and formal accessories
  • Items purchased for resale or for professional or commercial use
  • Items purchased outside the United States Items that have been altered
  • Jewelry, art objects, rare or precious coins or stamps, antiques, and collectible items
  • Medical equipment
  • Perishables, consumables, and limited–life items, including but not limited to, rechargeable batteries
  • Real estate and items which are intended to become part of real estate, including but not limited to, items that are hard–wired or hard–plumbed, garage doors, garage door openers, and ceiling fans
  • Seasonal items, including but not limited to, holiday decorations

Wells Fargo Return Protection

Wells Fargo offers return protection on the Propel American Express card and other legacy Wells Fargo American Express credit cards.

However, none of these cards are available for new sign-ups.

If you have a Wells Fargo American Express card, the return protection is up to 90 days for $300 per item and $1,000 per year.

Bank of America Return Protection

Bank of America offers return protection on the Premium Rewards credit card for up to 90 days and $250 per claim and total claims of $1,000 per year. 

You can file a claim online or by calling the number on the back of your card.

U.S. Bank Return Protection

U.S. Bank offers return protection the Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite card for up to 90 days, $300 per item, and $1,000 per year.

You can file a claim online or by calling 1-888-221-3289.

Barclays Return Protection

Barclays does not offer return protection on any of their credit cards.

Citi Return Protection

Citi removed return protection on all of their credit cards in 2019, and no longer offers it on any card. 

The Verdict

Return protection is a nice perk that could help you get reimbursed if a store won’t accept a return.

However, it may require several steps, including documenting your purchase and shipping the item, so be sure to retain all packaging, receipts, and documentation for your item.