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Holding an American Express credit card can provide you with a variety of benefits depending on which one you choose. Whether you use The Platinum Card® from American Express to earn AmEx Membership Rewards, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card to rack up airline miles or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card to collect hotel points, they can all help you reduce the cost of your next trip.
There is one benefit, however, that you may not know as much about: AmEx return protection.
Let’s look at what AmEx return protection is, how you can benefit from it and when it applies.
What is AmEx return protection?
American Express return protection is an extended return policy covering eligible purchases. If the merchant can not issue you a refund, you can ask American Express to reimburse you for the total cost of the item. Amex will return the full purchase price excluding shipping and handling, up to $300 per item, up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year per Card account.
Many people use this benefit when retailer restrictions prevent them from otherwise getting their money back. For example, many stores will only accept a return within 30 or 60 days from the date of purchase. AmEx extends that window to 90 days, which can be especially helpful if you’re buying a gift for a future holiday or birthday and you aren’t sure if the recipient will like it.
Return protection differs from AmEx’s purchase protection, which covers you if a purchase is lost or stolen within 90 days. Terms apply.
» Learn more: How to add money-saving AmEx Offers to your card
AmEx cards with return protection
Many American Express cards provide this consumer benefit, but not all do. These are some of the most popular AmEx credit cards that offer return protection:
You can find the entire list of AmEx cards that offer return protection here. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Which American Express card is right for you?
Return protection limitations
There are some limits to what American Express will reimburse. You’re eligible to receive up to $300 per eligible item and up to $1,000 total per calendar year, based on the date of purchase. Remember that if the merchant has a return policy that still accepts the item or is more generous than AmEx’s return protection, you must rely on the retailer’s policy.
To be eligible for a refund, you must have paid for the item in full with your AmEx card. In addition, purchases must have been made within the United States, U.S. territories or islands (including Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, among others). Items must also be in their original condition and not used, damaged or defective.
While that sounds easy enough, American Express does have a lengthy list of exclusions for this benefit. For example, some of the items you cannot return are:
One-of-a-kind items like artwork.
Animals or plants.
Going-out-of-business sale items.
Rare items, such as coins.
Books, periodicals or maps.
Perishable or consumable items like food, perfume or batteries.
Computer software or firmware.
Health or personal care items.
The entire list of exclusions can be found here. Terms apply.
» Learn more: How to use the AmEx Pay With Points feature
How to file an AmEx return protection claim
Before filing a claim with AmEx, first try to return the item to the merchant. If that's no longer an option, you can start the claim process by calling 800-228-6855 or filing a claim online. You must do this within 90 days of purchase.
You will also need:
A copy of the original store receipt.
A copy of your American Express card statement showing the charge.
Any other items American Express may need to process your request.
These items must be submitted within 30 days of making a claim. AmEx may also request that you send the item to them. In that case, you will be reimbursed for shipping costs.
Once you have filed a claim, you can check its status on the claim website or by calling the same number listed above.
» Learn more: AmEx vs. Chase points
Final thoughts on using AmEx return protection
If you have exhausted your options when returning an eligible item to a merchant, American Express cardholders with return protection may still have an alternative.
Credit card benefits include more than just miles and points. They also can offer tangible and money-saving perks when you use the card to make a purchase — AmEx return protection is one perfect example.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card