How to Get Your Credit Card to Pay for Your Lost Things

It's never fun to lose something, especially when it's expensive. Don't you wish there were a way to get a free replacement somehow? Well, there actually is. All you need is a credit card that offers a purchase protection feature.

Finding Out About Protection the Hard Way
I found out about this credit card feature the hard way. I had bought my wife a nice necklace as a "just because" gift in December. In February, she told me she had looked everywhere for the necklace, but couldn't find it. My initial gut feeling was of frustration since I really liked that necklace on her and also because it was too pricey to replace nonchalantly.

Then I remembered long ago, my friend told me that after she had lost sunglasses, she somehow got her credit card company to replace them free of charge. So I began scouring the Internet in search of information to save me some serious dollars.

Purchase Protection Feature
I started finding articles confirming that some credit cards included a purchase protection feature, which protects cardholders from "theft, damage, or involuntary and accidental parting with property" for purchases made with those credit cards. While terms may vary by card, I looked into the terms for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card specifically, which I had used to purchase the necklace.

What I found was the card provides protection for purchases made with the card for a period of 120 days after the initial purchase date. The Purchase Protection feature will "replace, repair, or reimburse you up to a maximum of $500 for each claim and up to $50,000 for each account."

However, the Purchase Protection feature only provides coverage in excess of your existing auto, homeowners, renters, or employer insurance policies. Depending on the structure of your insurance policies, your insurance could be hit before the Purchase Protection kicks in at all. On the other hand, if you have deductibles on your insurance policies, then the Purchase Protection feature may actually pay out a claim first.

For the Chase Sapphire Preferred policy, a claim had to be submitted within 90 days of the loss and within 120 days of the purchase date. That means, you're out of luck using the feature on this card if you've had the item for more than four months.    

There are also certain items that are excluded under the Chase Sapphire Preferred Purchase Protection plan, including animals and living plants. So if my cat Junebug decides to run away from home, unfortunately the Purchase Protection feature won't be able to help replace her. Other exclusions of note include used or pre-owned items, computer software, antiques and collectible items, along with jewelry or watches lost while left in checked baggage. 

How to Use the Purchase Protection Feature
For the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the process started with me having to call the Benefit Administrator. After answering some preliminary questions about my claim, the customer service representative sent me a claim form that had to be submitted with several other pieces of information. 

Before submitting the documentation, I reviewed my homeowners insurance policy and confirmed that I had a $1,000 deductible. That's good news because I didn't have to file a claim with my insurance company to have them reimburse me for the lost necklace, and the Purchase Protection feature would hopefully have to step in. 

I then filled out the claim form and emailed it together with the original necklace store receipt, the credit card statement where the necklace charge appeared, and the declarations page of my homeowners insurance. 

A week after submitting the original documentation, I received an email from the card company requesting a copy of the "paid receipt showing that the lost item has been replaced." I hadn't actually replaced the necklace though since I wanted to see whether the card company would reimburse me first. It was a classic chicken and egg situation, but since they forced my hand, I ended up buying a replacement necklace from Nordstrom, which I thought would be a low-risk buy since the store has such a good return policy

If the credit card company didn't end up reimbursing me for the necklace, I'd just return the replacement necklace back to Nordstrom. If I did get the reimbursement, I'd keep the necklace. 

About 10 days after submitting the receipt for the replacement necklace, I received an email saying that my claim was approved! It took another seven days for me to receive the check in the mail, but all in all, this was a pretty short process. From beginning to end, the little consumer odyssey took less than one month and was pretty painless. 

Even When You Lose, You Can Still Win
Don't fret right away the next time you lose something. First, check the features of the credit card you used to buy the lost item. Perhaps a purchase protection feature exists that can help replace your lost item for free.