If you can consider yourself an impulse buyer, then a new service being offered by American Express called Premium Return Protection is something to look into. Likely you have purchased something that you meant to return, but the 30-day return policy has already expired. But with this program, you can be bailed out at $600 per incident. This can be used for clothing, jewelry, software, electronics and DVDs.

You can get premium protection, which will give you up to 6 months to return any item that you have purchased, rather than just 30 days. Then the coverage is good for up to $600 per incident, and allows you up $2,500 annually. Compared to other credit card companies that only offer up to 3 months, $300 per incident and up to $1,000 per year, this program sounds very favorable.

When you have this protection, you are getting more than the standard protection provided to Amex customers with restocking fees. There was a time when I bought a Macbook Air and opened it up the day before I found out that a brand new one was being released the next week. At Apple, there is 10% restocking fee for Macs that have been opened, so you can imagine what that is for a $1,500 computer. But with the premium protection from Amex, I would be able to return that and have the $150 restocking fee covered as well.

According to a spokesperson for Amex, Leah Gerstner, “We believe we offer the only return protection program that covers restocking fees.”

The purchase protection program isn’t only limited to its customers, so even if you have a rewards credit card from another company and aren’t a member of Amex, you’re able to sign up. For $49.99 a year, Amex will cover any purchases that are made in America with a debit, charge or credit card that you have from any financial institution.

You can also get assistance with shipping costs, which allows up to $20 per purchase with a max of $100 annually. So if you enjoy shopping online, this could be a great option for you. Then if you don’t like what you bought, you can always return it.

Just like with any other program, you will have to read the small print. For instance, you’ll need to send a photocopy of the receipt and the items you’re returning has to be still somewhat new. So if it’s clothing, it still has to have its original tags and electronics like software and DVDs have to be returned in their original packages. Electronics that have already been opened can still be returned, as long as it is still working properly.

Things to Consider Before You Join

Just like any other card company, Amex is in it to make money. Likely, they’re going to be refunding less than $49.00 on average per signup. Plus, they know that the people that will be signing up for this program the most are indecisive impulsive buyers. So before you join this program, you should assess yourself and ask how they’re able to make money off of a $49.99 program?

Even though American Express has resale relationships that give them the ability to give reasonably priced protection, it is also known that you’re likely to use this product less than you may think. For instance, members are more likely to return their items within the merchandiser’s timeframe to save from dealing with a hassle. No one really wants to deal with mailing and faxing in items and receipts.

Then when it comes to DVD and software, people are less likely to leave them wrapped and unused for over a month before deciding to return it, and opening these types of things will disqualify them from the return protection program of Amex.

If you have home décor, exercise equipment and small appliances that you would like to return, keep in mind that you’re only given a $20 mail reimbursement per incident, so the items you have that are really heavy (treadmills, weights, other appliances) wouldn’t be worth returning.  Customers who are already with Amex get 90 days of protection and $300 per incident, making this additional protection inessential in most scenarios.

Of course, some shoppers are lazy. Those that end up buying items that are $100 are sometimes not willing to turn in paperwork in order to get a refund for the items they purchase.

There are a Lot of Shoppers Who are Indecisive

Overall, this could be a great program for you if you are a frequent shopper on the Internet, have a lot of clothes in your closet with tags still attached, and are usually dissatisfied with the items you buy. Otherwise, your best bet is to save your fifty dollars for something else. You can find out more information about Amex’s return program by going to their web site, or giving them a call at 866-912-6566.