The next time a cashier asks you whether you'd like to buy the "extended warranty" on something, you might be better off saying no.
If you're paying with a credit card, there's a chance you’ll qualify for extended warranty coverage at no extra cost. Here's how it works.
What is an extended warranty?
The extended warranty offered by your credit card typically adds up to a year of additional coverage to eligible purchases. It mirrors the terms of the original manufacturer’s warranty — for example, if the original warranty covers only manufacturing defects, then the extended warranty will do the same.
Charge the item to your card that offers the coverage, and save your receipt and the product's warranty documentation. If the product breaks after the original warranty expires, you may still be able to be reimbursed from your card's payment network via statement credit or check.
These extended warranty policies don’t cover all credit card purchases. Computers, cars and items without manufacturer's warranties are generally excluded, for example. But if you have a broken dishwasher or a malfunctioning video-game console, you’ll likely be eligible for reimbursement.
Why your credit card's extended warranty is a good deal
Extended warranties offered by retailers — which are generally different types of service plans — tend to be expensive. A study in 2018 by Consumer Reports found that the median price for a service plan was $126 for a large appliance and $21 for a small one. Most products didn't break down during the time period covered by the service plan, and even people who had repairs made under the service plan didn't save much money compared with people without the coverage, the findings showed.
To save money, consider relying on your card’s complimentary extended warranty policy instead. Check your credit card's benefits to make sure your purchase is eligible for coverage before skipping the service plan.
What paperwork do I need?
To take advantage of your card’s extended warranty policy, you generally need to supply these records with the completed claim form:
Original store receipt.
Account statement showing credit card purchase.
Copy of manufacturer’s warranty.
Other warranty or service plan policies, if applicable.
Once you submit the forms, the payment network's examiner will approve or deny your claim. The examiner may request more documents — for example, repair quotes — if you're filing a large claim. Generally, smaller claims are processed more quickly.
Each payment network has online warranty managers, where you can upload images of your receipts and warranty coverage to your profile. You’re not required to register products this way, but having your documents online can make it a little easier to file claims later.
Which credit cards offer extended warranties?
A few things to keep in mind when you're looking for a credit card with an extended warranty — or trying to determine if your card offers them.
Extended warranty benefits are typically managed by credit card payment networks — American Express, Visa and Mastercard — rather than by credit card issuers like Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo or your local bank. The only network that does not offer extended warranties is Discover, which discontinued the benefit in 2018.
Card issuers choose whether to offer the benefit on any or all of their cards, and they can also choose to limit or expand the scope of the coverage. So Visa might make the benefit available, but the issuer might decline to add it to your card. How do you know for sure that your card offers the benefit? Check your cardmember agreement. You should be able to access it when you log into your account online.
All networks exclude motorized vehicles (cars, boats, etc.) and computers. Check individual network policies for other exclusions.
Most personal and business cards, although several popular $0 annual fee cards are excluded. (See list of exceptions below.)
Cards with Visa Signature or Visa Infinite benefits.
How it extends your warranty
Provides up to 1 additional year on manufacturer's warranties of 5 years or less. (For Centurion cards, up to 3 additional years.)
Provides up to 1 additional year on manufacturer's warranties of 3 years or less.
Doubles the manufacturer's warranty on items with a warranty period of 12 months or less.
• $10,000 per claim.
• $50,000 per year.
• $10,000 per claim.
• $50,000 per cardholder.
• $10,000 per claim.
• no stated annual or lifetime limit.
How do I file a claim?
Call 800-225-3750 within 30 days of an incident that qualifies for warranty coverage.
Call the benefits administrator within 60 days of an incident that qualifies for coverage. For Visa Signature: 800-551-8472. For Visa Infinite: 888-221-3289.
Call 800-627-8372 within 60 days of an incident that qualifies for warranty coverage.
American Express stopped offering extended warranty coverage on the following cards as of Jan. 1, 2020: American Express Cash Magnet® Card • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express • Blue Cash® from American Express • Blue from American Express® • Blue Sky from American Express® • American Express® Cash Rebate Credit Card • Amex EveryDay® Credit Card • Clear from American Express® • Platinum Optima® Card • Optima® Card
*Information current as of September 10, 2020.
The bottom line
Your card’s extended warranty coverage could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars when your purchase breaks down. Hold onto those receipts and warranties, and you’ll be able to file a claim without much hassle.