Main Credit Card Benefits from Different Networks Explained

Making big ticket purchases with a credit card, you get peace of mind as a bonus. Learn about the most attractive benefits from Visa, Discover, MasterCard or American Express and start saving on lost, stolen, broken or damaged items.

Main credit card benefits for shopping and travel

While choosing a new credit card, we take into account fees, rewards programs, signup bonuses and various promotional offers. All this helps estimate potential profits from each card, compare different offers and pick the most beneficial one.

What we ignore absolutely is various benefits from credit card networks – Visa, Discover, MasterCard and American Express. We ignore features that may save us hundreds and thousands of dollars on a daily basis.

Only look at standard benefits available to almost any credit card owner:

  • Return Extension allows you to return a purchased item within 2-3 months of the date of purchase. This is much longer that a standard return period from retailers – 3-30 days.
  • Extended Warranty provides you with another 1-12 months of warranty (in addition to the warranty from a manufacturer) for free just because you pay for your purchase with a credit card.
  • Price Protection (also called Price Adjustment) is an absolutely amazing feature. It allows you to benefit from sales and Black Fridays several months before they start.
  • Loss/Damage Coverage (also called Purchase Protection or Purchase Assurance) helps you to survive the loss of a new smartphone or another expensive item.
  • Rental Car Insurance may come in handy for travellers. Pay for car rental with your card and get an insurance for free.

Four out of five mentioned benefits may significantly improve your everyday shopping experience. You get better prices, longer warranties, and more consumer rights. It even becomes easier to survive the loss of your new and often expensive devices.

Compare main benefits and their terms

So why don’t people use these incredible benefits? It’s not because these features don’t work. No, they work perfectly well. They are just hidden in the fine print of cardholder agreements. Many people never read their agreements, so they don’t know about these opportunities.

We did all the hard job for you. Below you can find the most standard benefits from Visa, Discover, MasterCard and American Express. Check their terms and start to benefit from them today.

Just bear in mind that credit card benefits work only for those purchases and services which have been paid with a credit card. And it most cases it’s better to have an original receipt with the item.

Return extension

If you decide to return an item after a month since the date of purchase, many retailers would not tolerate this. Some of them don’t accept returns after three days since the date of purchase. However, if you paid for that item with a credit card, the card issuer may refund you its cost up to a certain limit and within a certain period of time after the date of purchase. Check the table below for more details.

Visa MasterCard Discover American Express
N/A Returns up to $250 per claim (max. 4 claims per year) within 60 days of purchase. Returns up to $500 per claim (and up to $2,500 per year) within 90 days of purchase. Returns up to $300 per claim (and up to $1,000 per year) within 90 days of purchase.
Excluded: professional services, one-of-a-kind items, collectibles. Excluded: products for commercial use and digital downloads. Excluded: jewelry, computer software, perishable items and motorized vehicles.

Extended warranty

When you purchase a big-ticket item, you normally get warranty from its manufacturer. But if you buy this item with a credit card, you may get another year of warranty from the credit card issuer. Check your card terms and conditions for details.

Visa MasterCard Discover American Express
Extends an original warranty (valid for up to 3 years) for up to one year and on claims up to $10,000. Extends an original warranty (valid for up to 1 year) for up to one year and on claims up to $10,000. Extends an original warranty (valid for up to 3 years) for up to one year and on claims up to $10,000. Extends an original warranty (valid for up to 5 years) for up to one year and on claims up to $10,000.
Not covered: medical equipment, rented or leased items, and items “intended to become part of real estate”. Not covered: antique, floor models without any manufacturer warranty or professional services. Not covered: used goods and computer software. Not covered: plants, animals, motorized vehicles and their parts, perished items.
Eligible Visa Signature cards only.      

Price Protection (also called Price Adjustment)

If you’ve purchased an item with your credit card and later see exactly the same item on sale at a lower price, you may get the difference refunded by a credit card issuer. The refund is limited with a certain amount and can be requested only within a certain period of time after the date of purchase.

Visa MasterCard Discover American Express
N/A Reimburses up to $250 per item and up to 4 claims per year within 60 days of the date of purchase. Reimburses up to $500 per item and up to $2,500 per year within 90 days of the date of purchase. N/A
Excluded items: pets, professional services, art and items bought “from an internet site whose primary purpose is not the sale of the item or related items”. Excluded items: gift cards, jewelry, travel and travel-related services, motorized vehicles.
Eligible MasterCard cards only.  

Loss/ Damage Coverage (also called Purchase Protection)

Even recent purchases happen to get lost, stolen or damaged. But if you paid for them with a credit card, the credit card issuer may be ready to cover your losses within a certain period of time after the purchase date. Normally, you have to prove the legitimacy of the loss. For example, you may need a police report for claiming theft with your credit card company.

Visa MasterCard Discover American Express
Covers up to $500 per claim and up to $50,000 per year for items lost, stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchase. Covers up to $1,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per year for items lost, stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchase. Covers up to $500 per claim and up to $50,000 per year for items lost, stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchase. Covers up to $1,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per year for items lost, stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchase.
Eligible Visa Signature cards only. Eligible MasterCard cards only.    

Rental car insurance

The only standard travel benefit from credit card networks is Rental Car Insurance. If you pay for car rental with your credit card (in the U.S. or abroad), your credit card company may cover collision damage, theft, vandalism and even hitting a deer. This benefit allows you to save on an insurance from a car rental agency.

What you should remember is that a rental car insurance may be primary or secondary. This sets the order of coverage in case if you have several insurances. Most often, an insurance from your credit card company is primary only if you don’t have others insurances. In all other cases, it is secondary and may cover only the losses not covered by your primary insurance. Closely check your credit card terms and conditions for details.

Visa MasterCard Discover American Express
Applies for the first 15 days (31 days in a foreign country) of a car rental. Applies for the first 15 days of a car rental. Applies for the first 31 days of a car rental. Applies for the first 30 days of a car rental.
Covered: loss-of-use and towing fees. Covered: loss-of-use (up to $500) and towing fees. Reimbursement is up to $25,000. Covered: storage, loss-of-use and towing fees.
Not covered: trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, expensive vehicles, “exotic cars”, and recreational cars. Not covered: trucks, motorcycles, SUVs, expensive vehicles (with an RRP of $50,000 and higher), “exotic cars”, and antique cars. Not covered: trucks, off-road, limited edition, antique and recreational vehicles, as well as cars with replacement value exceeding $50,000. Not covered: trucks, vans, sport-utility vehicles, expensive vehicles (with an RRP of $50,000 and higher), some “exotic cars”.

The bottom line

Competing for their consumers, credit card networks and banks offer more and more benefits with their cards. These benefits are listed on credit card offers but look quite abstract – Purchase Protection and Price Protection, Return Extension and Extended Warranty. Few people know what it means and how it works. However, all the details of these benefits you may find in the fine print of cardholder agreements. They really work, and it’s important to know about them.

When you make a big-ticket purchase, pay for it with a credit card. In this case, if something goes wrong later, the credit card company may reimburse your losses. Save your money.