But where they really shine are their purchase protections. Here are just a few of my experiences:
Purchase protection covers items that are stolen or broken within 90 days of purchase. On most cards you’re covered for items up to $1,000 but if you use a Platinum or Delta Reserve card it covers items up to $10,000 and it will even cover you for items that are merely lost!
A couple months ago a friend of mine was celebrating the birth of his first son. I bought and brought over a bottle of his favorite scotch, Lagvulin, but he wasn’t home and I managed to break it as I brought the bottle back into my house.
Officially consumable items are excluded from purchase protection, but having nothing to lose I went online and submitted a claim in the AMEX Claims Center. And sure enough, they issued a full refund!
AMEX offers free CDW car rental coverage, but only on a secondary basis. That’s great if you don’t have personal car insurance, but it means they won’t cover anything if you do.
They offer Premium Car Rental Protection that makes the coverage primary for a $19.95/rental fee ($15.95/rental for CA residents) for $75K of coverage or $24.95/rental ($17.95/rental for CA residents) for $100K of coverage.
Of course the Chase Sapphire Preferred card gives free worldwide primary coverage, though the claims process is more cumbersome than it is with AMEX.
But a big difference is that your Chase Sapphire Preferred card won’t cover what they consider to be luxury cars and SUVs.
With AMEX Premium car rental protection luxury cars and SUVs are covered. They had no problem covering the damage that the valet at the S. Regis Bal Harbour did to the Lincoln Navigator that Avis upgraded me to earlier this year. No messy paperwork required, just a quick online claim took care of everything. And yes, it will even cover the $75,000 scratch on the door of the Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo should you miraculously find yourself in a rented one 😉
Of course it’s worth noting that AMEX won’t cover rentals in Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, and New Zealand, while Chase will cover all countries (though you should always carry a letter of coverage when traveling abroad from the insurance that your card offers).
The lesson here is to always check with the insurance provider to see if your upgraded car is covered.
Extended warranty matches the manufacturer’s warranty up to an extra year of warranty coverage on items up to $10,000. The irony is that most manufacturer’s warranties stink. They make you send in your item and typically have long turn-around times. Or they find reasons why the warranty doesn’t cover your problem.
Wait it out until the manufacturer’s warranty ends and you’ll be in luck. Often times you’ll receive a refund of your entire purchase price within a few days of making a claim without even hassling you at all. DDF members report this happening often for cameras, cell phones, and computers. For some more expensive items they may ask for a repair quote but when you send in the quote you’ll typically be credited with that amount (up to the purchase price paid) within a few days. People on DDF have even reported getting refunded for computers with cracked screens and other physical damage during the AMEX warranty bonus year, something that the manufacturer would never cover.
I’ve had to file a few disputes over the years. I learned early on that disputes on cards from most banks can be very tough for a consumer to win, even with all of the documentation in the world.
AMEX is light-years ahead of the competition in this regard, it’s much easier for a consumer to win a dispute and disputes can be easily filed online or over the phone.
From contractors that didn’t perform, to the dive shop in Maui that sold us an intro-dive tour but stuck us with pro divers who had no patience for us, AMEX dispute resolution has come in handy many times.
Back in February 2011 I ordered a Bugaboo on sale and paid the extra $1 for lifetime free returns. The store went out of business before I realized in September 2011 how far superior the UppaBaby Vista is to the Bugaboo in just about every way, but AMEX had no problem standing behind the stated lifetime return policy and refunded the charge in full. They didn’t even want the Bugaboo back.
Frankly AMEX dispute resolution may be too good. I had one person dispute the $13 they paid for on an AMEX to attend a DansDeals seminar (the full proceeds of which were donated to charity). When I asked the attendee why they disputed the charge they said that they just didn’t recognize the charge, so they disputed it. He called AMEX right away to drop the dispute, but by that point it was too late and they refunded him the money and I got hit with a chargeback fee on money I had already donated.
Yes, the person made up for the chargeback fees I was hit with in the end, but just be careful to only dispute things after attempting to contact the merchant to make things right or clarify what the charge is for as AMEX dispute resolution works incredibly well. If you ever receive goods or services that you’re not happy with, just let the merchant know that you do plan on disputing the purchase and see if they will come to a compromise without it coming to that. But if they won’t, AMEX will have your back more than any other bank.
Return Protection is by far one of the most underrated benefits that AMEX offers. If you buy something from a retailer with a return policy less than 90 days long, even if they have no return policy at all or if the item is on final sale, you can use AMEX return protection.
Return protection works for items that cost $300 or less and can be used to return up to $1,000 of items per card per year. If the item is under $100 AMEX will typically issue an immediate refund. If it’s between $100-$300 usually an examiner will review the claim to ensure that the item isn’t on the excluded list. Usually the examiner will then issue a refund though on occasion AMEX will request that you email a photo of the item or mail the item in for a refund.
The current return protection policy is that AMEX will pay for return shipping if they do require that you actually return the item to them. In the past AMEX didn’t used to cover the return shipping and they were more inclined back then to request that the item be returned. I used it 6 times and wound up with a $305.70 check as apparently they were supposed to cover the return shipping.
Of course all of these benefits make the equation on which card to use even more complicated. It’s important to remember that although another card may give you extra points in some categories, what is the ability to return, dispute, or have extended warranty coverage worth?
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
The following are some of the cards that have all of the above benefits:
Share your experiences in the comments!