What is 'Return Protection'

Return protection is a fairly common, but seldom used credit card perk. It allows cardholders to receive a refund from the credit card company for any purchase they find unsatisfactory, provided the merchant will not accept the product’s return.

BREAKING DOWN 'Return Protection'

Return protection is useful for dealing with both little-known and well-known merchants. In the case of the former, return protection provides additional security for the buyer when dealing with an unknown vendor with little to no market reputation.

However, return protection is useful even when dealing with well-known retailers, especially if the store accepts returns over a shorter period of time relative to the credit card protection. Say a store accepts returns only for 30 days and return protection lasts for 60 days. Return protection comes in handy when a product needs to be returned on day 31.

Many cards offering return protection have limits. For example, some only offer return protection for items up to a certain dollar amount, or they cap total return protection claims over a set period.

Credit card companies typically require original receipts to claim a refund, and in some cases, proof that the store will not accept the item the customer wants to return.

Card companies usually want the merchandise the store will not take back, and set a time limit for customers to mail back those items.

It’s also worth noting that many card companies exclude a lengthy list of products from return protection.

Cards With Return Protection And Their Limitations

As of 2018, Mastercard offered return protection, as did American Express. Some Visa cards did, as well, although some did not. Previously, Discover cards offered return protection, but the company did away with this perk in early 2018.

For its part, Mastercard offers return protection as of mid-2018 for 60 days after the point of purchase, up to $250 per claim. It also limits the number of claims to four a year. It will not cover damage, defective or non-working items, jewelry, art, used or antique items, collectibles, refurbished or rebuilt items or anything that’s customized, special order or one of a kind. It also won’t cover professional services, plants, animals, data and music.

Mastercard also wants back the items in working condition, in their original packaging. The onus for any shipping costs is on the consumer.

In comparison, American Express, as of mid-2018, offers return protection for 90 days, for up to $300 an item, and up to $1,000 a year. Its list of exclusions is somewhat similar to Mastercard’s. Some of the specifics it excludes are items bought in a going-out-of-business sale, light bulbs, batteries, rare coins, maps, books, formalwear, tickets, stamps seasonal items and firearms.

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