The combination of recession-reduced budgets, intense competition in the retail space, and tried-and-true consumer price sensitivity has fostered an environment in which price-match guarantees are something of a staple. Most of the largest brick-and-mortar retailers – think Walmart, Best Buy and Toys”R”Us – use price matching to avoid serving as showrooms for Internet giants like Amazon.com. It’s also a direct reflection of consumer preferences, as 21% of shoppers request a price match when they encounter prices in a store that they feel are too high, according to Cognizant’s Shopper Experience Study, while 19% leave and look for a lower price online. Furthermore, 29% of people said that price matching by store associates is their top priority for store improvement.
As much as people love price matching at the point of sale, the ability to make a purchase knowing that you’re guaranteed to get the best price that comes available in the next 60-90 days would have to be pretty mind-blowing. That power may already lie in our wallets, believe it or not. Much like they provide rental car insurance, extended product warranties and purchase protection, many credit cards also provide price matching programs. While these programs vary by card, they generally enable consumers to receive a refund when they purchase an item and soon after submit proof of a lower price available elsewhere. Such an option is extremely important in the contemporary retail environment, considering how frequently merchants seem to hold sales.
Still, differences in these policies as well as the circumstances in which we must avail ourselves of them necessitate a closer investigation into what our cards have to offer. That’s exactly what CardHub did, examining the price protection policies of the 10 largest credit card issuers and ultimately scoring their effectiveness. Check out our findings below.
- The Best Credit Cards for Price Protection Benefits are:
- More than half (53%) of consumer credit cards (excluding co-branded, student and business cards) have a price protection program, up from 49% last year.
- As is the case with Return Extension policies, jewelry is the type of item to which price protection policies most commonly do not apply.
- Price protection works pretty much the same for most issuers – consumers have to notify the issuer of a price drop – with the exception of Citi, which requires customers to proactively register items in return for automatic price monitoring.
- Most of the issuers that offer price protection provide coverage for 60 days, but Barclaycard and USAA (on its MasterCard and American Express cards) go all the way up to 120 days.
- Cardholders must keep their purchase receipt and provide a dated, printed advertisement showing a lower price for an item in order to be eligible for a refund of the price difference.
- Consumers should be on the lookout for fine print that limits the number of claims that can be submitted in one calendar year to 4, as 17% of credit cards do so.
The Coverage You Can Expect
|Example of a Standard Policy||Best Policy|
|Sign Up||No sign up or product registration required|
|Type Of Coverage||If an item you purchased with your credit card is advertised at a lower price, you can claim a refund for the price difference|
|Covered Items||Clothes, shoes, electronics, computers and certain other items|
|Exclusions||Perishables, jewelry, on-sale items and certain other purchases||Perishables, jewelry and certain other purchases|
|Coverage Limit Per Item||$250 per eligible item||$500 per eligible item|
|Annual Coverage Limit||Up to $1,000 per account||Up to $2,500 per account|
|Price Protection Period||60 days from the date of purchase||90 days from the date of purchase|
|Annual Claims Limit||4||No limit|
|Claims Limit On Items Purchased As A Set||No limit|
|Claims Process||Filing a claim requires a copy of the original itemized sales receipt and a dated, printed advertisement with the reduced price for an identical item|
|Cards Offering This Type Of Policy||Capital One Platinum||All Chase Cards|
|Full Policy Details||Capital One Price Protection Policy||Chase Price Protection Policy|
|Sign Up||Covered Items||Price
|All Chase Cards||10%||39%||15%||15%||8%||87%|
|All Discover Cards||10%||37%||15%||13%||9%||84%|
|USAA American Express||10%||24%||20%||14%||10%||78%|
|All Barclaycard Cards||10%||24%||20%||15%||9%||78%|
|All Citi Cards||10%||27%||10%||15%||10%||72%|
|Wells Fargo Cash Back||10%||26%||10%||15%||10%||71%|
|Wells Fargo Home Rebate||10%||26%||10%||15%||10%||71%|
|Wells Fargo Visa||10%||26%||10%||15%||10%||71%|
|Wells Fargo Rewards||10%||24%||10%||15%||10%||69%|
|Capital One QuicksilverOne||10%||24%||10%||14%||10%||68%|
|Capital One Platinum||10%||24%||10%||14%||10%||68%|
|Bank of America Better Balance Rewards||10%||24%||10%||15%||4%||63%|
The following cards do not offer price protection:
|All American Express Cards||Bank of America Travel Rewards||Bank of America Cash Rewards|
|Capital One Venture||Capital One Quicksilver||Capital One VentureOne|
|All U.S. Bank Cards||Wells Fargo Propel 365||Wells Fargo Propel World|
Ask The Experts
We took an even deeper look at the practice of price matching, turning to a panel of experts in the fields of retail and consumer studies for insights on issues ranging from the value of price matching for retailers to whether or not price monitoring is worthwhile to the consumer. You can check out the experts we consulted, the questions we asked them, and their responses below.
- To what extent is a price match guarantee an effective strategy for a retailer?
- Does leveraging a price protection policy (one that enables you to monitor and act on price changes after you buy) tend to be worth a consumer’s effort (e.g. price monitoring) when all is said and done?
- How do price match guarantees impact consumer habits?
The data used in this report is based on public disclosures regarding the price protection policies of the 10 largest issuers of consumer credit cards in the United States. Co-branded, student and business credit cards were not evaluated. Only online offers were evaluated. In situations where policies were incomplete or unclear, we contacted the issuer directly, requested verification, and proceeded to update the report as needed.
Each individual card was scored according to the following criteria:
1. Sign Up – Worth 10% Total
- If there is no sign-up requirement = 10%
- If product registration is required but price reduction is tracked automatically by the company = 10%
- If there is a onetime sign-up requirement = 5%
- If there is an annual sign up requirement = 2%
- If each product needs to be registered and price reduction needs to be tracked manually by the consumer = 0%
2. Coverage – Worth 45% Total
A. Coverage & Exclusions – Worth 20%
- For each Major category of items excluded from coverage, we subtracted 6%
- For each minor category of items excluded from coverage, we subtracted 2%
- Issuers are deducted a maximum of 20% points, even if their exclusions add up to more issuers only lose 20% points
B. Coverage Limit Per Item – Worth 15%
- $500+ = 15%
- $400 – $499 = 12%
- $300 – $399 = 9%
- $200 – $299 = 6%
- $100 – $199 = 3%
- Less than $100 = 0%
C. Annual Coverage Limit – Worth 10%
- $2,000+ = 10%
- $1,500 – $1,999 = 8%
- $1,000- $1,499 = 6%
- Less than $1,000 = 0%
3. Price Protection Period – Worth 20% Total
- 120+ days = 20%
- 90 – 119 days = 15%
- 60 – 89 days = 10%
- 30 – 59 days = 5%
- Less than 30 days = 0%
4. Claims – Worth 15% Total
A. Annual Claims Limit – Worth 5%
- 5+ claims = 5%
- 4 claims = 4%
- 3 claims = 3%
- 2 claims = 2%
- 1 claim = 0%
B. Claims – Worth 5%
- If filing a claim requires only 1) a product receipt, 2) a credit card statement and 3) either a dated ad OR a statement from a store documenting the details of the lower price = 5%
- If filing a claim requires a 1) product receipt, 2) a credit card statement, 3) a dated ad and 4) a statement from the store documenting the details of the lower price = 2.5%
- If filing a claim requires a 1) product receipt, 2) a credit card statement, 3) a dated ad, 4) a statement from the store documenting the details of the lower price, and 5) any additional documentation = 0%
C. Claims Limit On Items Purchased As A Set – Worth 5%
- 5+ items = 5%
- 4 items = 4%
- 3 items = 3%
- 2 items = 2%
- 1 item = 0%
5. Transparency Score – Worth 10%
A. How easily can one find the info? – Worth 3%
- Information is prominent on issuer website = 3%
- Information is not prominent on issuer website; or it is prominent, but users need to log in to see the full disclosure = 1.5%
- Information cannot be easily found on website = 0%
B. How easy it is to read the info? – Worth 1%
- Information is presented in normal-size font = 1%
- Information is in small-size font = 0%
C. How complete are the policies provided? – Worth 4%
- Full policy provided = 4%
- A couple of key points missing from policy = 3%
- Part of policy provided = 2%
- Benefits briefly described = 0.5%
- No key details provided = 0%
D. How open and transparent are card issuers about the policies? – Worth 2%
- Transparent about policies = 2%
- Not transparent about policies = 0%
Scores are determined based on our opinion of how each price protection policy compares to a theoretical ideal policy. An ideal policy is one based on common sense for which a consumer knows all of the most important information without having to delve into the fine print.