Which Credit Card To Use For Major Purchases?

Filed Under: Credit Cards

I purchased my current Macbook Air over three years ago, and it’s probably the best purchase I’ve ever made.

I love how portable the laptop is, and wouldn’t trade the light weight and compact shape for anything, but I’m having two major issues:

  • My battery life only lasts about two hours (I realize this is great for a normal laptop, but since this used to get 5-7…)
  • I am completely out of hard drive space. If you’ve been waiting on a particular trip report, know that it’s because I literally can’t add even a single picture to my computer right now

Given that, I’m planning on purchasing a new Macbook Air. My parents desperately need a new computer (and by my parents I mean my mom, because my dad is happy handwriting and then faxing), so my current one will be perfect for them, and I can more than double my hard drive space and battery life, so it seems like a win-win.

I don’t typically make major purchases like this, but someone on Twitter reminded me that many credit cards come with purchase protections and extended warranty options. I’d completely forgotten about these, so thought it might be helpful to go over the benefits for the cards I have presently.

For the most part, the credit card warranties are determined by the merchant processing network, rather than the issuing bank. Specific cards have different dollar limits, but in general the coverages are as follows:

Credit Card TypePurchase ProtectionExtended Warranty
American ExpressWhen you charge a covered purchase on your Card account, Purchase Protection can help protect your purchase for up to 90 days from the date of purchase if it is stolen or accidentally damaged.

• Platinum Card Members have access to lost item coverage in addition to theft and accidental damage coverage.
• You will only be reimbursed for the amount charged to your eligible Card. Coverage is limited per occurrence and per Card Member account per calendar year.
Get one extra year added to the manufacturer’s warranty

• Only valid on warranties of five years or less
• Not valid on motorized vehicles, or really anything with an engine
Visa SignatureWithin the first ninety (90) days of the date of purchase Purchase Security will, at the Benefit Administrator's discretion:

• Replace, repair, or reimburse you for eligible items of personal property purchased entirely with your eligible Visa Signature card
• Up to a maximum of $500 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder in the event of theft, damage due to fire, vandalism, accidentally discharged water, or certain weather conditions.
Doubles the time period of the original manufacturer’s written U.S. repair warranty up to one additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less

• Not valid on motorized vehicles, or really anything with an engine
• Excludes medical equipment
• Excludes computer software
• Real estate and items which are intended to become part of real estate including, but not limited to, items that are hard-wired or hard-plumbed, garage doors, garage door openers, and ceiling fans are not covered.
Mastercard World ElitePurchase Protection provides coverage for loss of a Covered Purchase due to Accidental Damage or Theft occurring within ninety (90) days from the date of purchase as indicated on the store receipt.

• Coverage includes up to USD 3,000 per claim and maximum of USD 20,000 over a 12 month period.
Note: The Citi Executive AA cards seem to have a coverage limit of only $1,000, and I haven't been able to get an answer as to why that is
Doubles the manufacturers warranty for a period of 12 months or less

• Media storage and computer software are not covered
• Motor vehicles are not covered

Additionally, some American Express cards offer “Return Protection.” If a store won’t take back an item within 90 days of purchase American Express may refund the full purchase price, up to $300 per item and a maximum of $1,000 annually.

So in this case, the Mastercard Extended Warranty is a bit of a deal-breaker, in my opinion. Otherwise, I’m thinking my best option is to use my Chase Sapphire Preferred to take advantage of the 7% annual bonus (benefit no longer available) while that is still in effect.

Either way, I will be going through a shopping portal to earn bonus points on my purchase.

What do you guys think? Have you used a credit card warranty before? Do I still need to purchase Apple Care?

  1. Best strategy for points would be to buy Amazon gift cards from Staples and purchase the Macbook Air on Amazon while getting 5x points back…

  2. Ben,

    I also make all purchases that I can through the shopping portals and try to always take advantage of my AmEx for the protection. However, as you stated AmEx only wants to cover you up to $300. Although, I have had an incident last year where they covered me for more than that amount. AmEx has great customer service. So, I buy through a portal, purchase through Staples or Office Depot, pay with my AmEx Skymiles card and so I am like triple-dipping for miles and Office Depot (or Staples) rewards as well! I typically earn $80/month back from the office supply stores this way and get the extra Skymiles.

  3. Be very careful with these. Many credit card “warranties” become void the moment you take the item out of the country of purchase which makes them about as a chocolate teacup to someone like yourself.

  4. My preferred strategy was to use my Amex Platinum through the Chase portal. The added protection for “lost” items more than makes up for the 7% dividend, in my opinion. I don’t believe anybody else provides coverage for your own stupidity.

    Also, you can purchase applecare (i believe) at any time prior to the expiration of the original warranty — no good reason to purchase it up front.

  5. Always purchase Apple Care. The free customer support is well worth it, regardless of if you have something that needs to be repaired. I had Apple on the phone for hours trying to fix a migration problem that cropped up months later…. the charge without AppleCare would have been ridiculous. And, if you ever have a problem, you can pop into any Apple store. Anywhere.

  6. I just bought an imac for a relative. I used the Sapphire Preferred card through the portal at Apple.com and then just selected in store pickup so I wouldn’t have to wait for them to ship it to me. Since you don’t stay in one place too long this could be worth it for you. It took about 1.5 hours after placing the order for it to be ready, but if you call they can have it ready sooner.

  7. Amex warranty is only $300 for returns within 90 days but is 10k for stolen items and not sure there is a limit other than $10k for the extended warranty. Getting an extra 5x is in no way worth not having the warranty. Maybe around 25x I’d think about it but otherwise no

  8. @ Leftpinky

    The Amex warranty and return are two different things. The return protection is $300 per item up to $1,000 in returns annually. I believe the purchase protection is $1,000 per purchase and $50,000 annually. Then you have the double warranty. The high cost of the apple care has been worth it for me as they’ve gone above and beyond to help fix issues, whereas if you use the extended warranty coverage they will pay for the cost of the repair or replace but that takes a decent amount of time and documentation.

    @ Lucky

    Do they different types of Amex cards have different coverages as far as purchase protection? I’ve seen $10k and $1k.

  9. If you purchase AppleCare, American Express Platinum will extend coverage one year beyond the 3 year AppleCare period. I agree that it’s a good investment for the free telephone tech support for the life of the policy.

  10. I’ve used American Express purchase protection before and it was very easy. I’ve used the extended warranty benefit for a Mac I bought for my mom. It was beyond the Apple warranty, but with the extended warranty from Amex, they covered the necessary repairs. All I had to do was send them the repair bill. I’ve also used the accidental damage benefit – again very easy. I forget what the product was (I think it was a camera), but I remember sending them the repair estimate for the damage, and they decided whether to repair or replace. In this case, they authorized the repair. Again, a very easy process and they never really challenged me on anything.

    I always make major purchases with an Amex now.

  11. Off topic – do you store all of your blog photos on your hard drive? Do you have a backup whereby you can move older ones and free up space? I understand wanting to have your entire collection at your fingertips on your hard drive (I still keep my entire collection on the hard drive), but I use a could backup service plus an external hard drive in case anything happens to my machine or the house burns down.

  12. Do you mean deal-breaker in a good or a bad way? The media storage/software exclusions has me spooked, so I’m thinking you meant that the world elite is NOT a card you’d want to put a purchase on.

  13. I filed a claim with a Citi Exec card when I dropped a 2 1/2 month iDevice and it shattered. I took it to Apple, sent the receipt and documentation to Citi, and they mailed me a check a couple weeks later.

    Easy peasy.

  14. I bought my Macbook Pro using Citi AA Executive (yeah you know what I am doing!) and got Citi Price Rewind refund of $250 when the 2014 model come out. Many say Citi Price Rewind is a hoax, I guess they are just having very strict term.

  15. I always like to get the most protection I can so I use an Amex card to purchase my Apple products but I also add Apple Care. In your case since you travel a lot the extra protection is important since your computer is always on the road and chances something can happen is high. Regarding running out of HD space, you should look at cloud services (Dropbox, Copy, Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud, etc…) so you can store pictures and other stuff you may not need immediately on the cloud and since you are for the most time connected online you can easily access those files. Also, I urge you to buy an external HD so you have a backup of all your files. In case your computer fails or it is stolen you have your files safe. It also serves as an extra storage so you don’t need to store everything on your MacBook Air HD. There are smaller versions today that are cheap and very portable and with more than 1TB of storage.

  16. You should also consider Apple One on One which would be a great investment for you since you are “always” on your computer……go to the front of the question line anytime you have a “question”……….thru a portal to Amazon GC at 5X and then thru thru the portal again to make the buy is a pretty solid advice from bill……..

  17. I have a MacBook Pro with retina… Purchased with Amex Platinum. It had one day left in the double warranty (1yr 365days old). Some water was knocked onto it by my daughter, and it stopped the screen working. Could be fixed by a repair shop, but the left shift key was permanently busted. Amex extended warranty said no help as 1) it took me a week to file the claim after the incident and 2) water damage was not covered by the original warranty and 3) they would only have covered the repair, not replacement. Yes, my mistake, but it is not a perfect system.

  18. Id wait before buying a MacBook Air to be honest. New 12″ retina MacBook will be out with broadwell processor by the end of the yr probably. faster, longer battery,inch better screen and probably lighter…

  19. Visa and MC both put you through the wringer when you try and make use of their warranty protection. I’ve heard many complaints regarding them finding ways to claim the coverage wasn’t there because the customer failed to do one thing or another.

    In contrast I’ve found Amex to be extremely straightforward. They take your word for it is a product has failed and often don’t even ask you to return the item. Maybe that is because I don’t invoke the insurance very frequently (once every couple of years) so their computer says to trust me. In any event if my experience is typical I’d encourage you to put large charges on Amex the warranty is something you are going to want.

  20. My understanding is that these extra benefits added to your card like extended warranty and such are supported by a third party insurance company. So when you put a claim in the credit card company will transfer you or will give you the contact info. Then that company will determine if u qualify.

    Even though most extended warranties are crap (see many articles online), in your situation apple care may be best especially since how expensive Apple products are.

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