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Now that the holiday shopping frenzy has subsided, you may be feeling some buyer's remorse. Fortunately, some credit cards and debit cards offer protection on purchases.

"It's one of those hidden benefits that everyone is not always aware of," says Joe Ridout, the consumer services manager at watchdog group Consumer Action. "And some of the high-end cards have some surprisingly advantageous features."

MasterCard and Visa offer programs to gird against buying gone bad -- such as return protection, purchase protection and extended warranties -- but it's up to the issuer to extend these benefits to cardholders. American Express also offers several protections for its cardholders, while Discover, among other issuers, provides some protection for a fee.

Here's a look at the shopping protections offered on major credit cards.

Return protection

With this service, a credit card company will refund the cost of an item purchased using the card if the retailer won't accept the return.

MasterCard will refund up to $250 within 60 days of purchase under its satisfaction guarantee. That applies to most Gold and Platinum cards as well as World and World Elite cards, says company spokesman Dwain Schenck.

Visa will reimburse cardholders the cost of a product within 90 days after purchase if the retailer doesn't accept the return and if the product was paid for with an eligible Visa card. The limit is $250 per item and up to $1,000 each year per account. Items must be in like-new or good working condition.

All American Express cardholders have 90 days for a purchase refund up to $300 per item and $1,000 each year.

The issuer also offers a premium return protection program for $49.99 a year to all consumers, not just cardholders, says American Express spokeswoman Leah Gerstner. Consumers get 180 days to make a claim. The plan covers such items as jewelry, watches, books and DVDs for up to $600 per eligible purchase and $2,500 a year.

Chase Sapphire credit cards also offer return protection for the first 90 days after purchase if the retailer doesn't accept a return.

Purchase protection

MasterCard covers most items you buy with your eligible card if the item is damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase, says Schenck.

Visa also has a 90-day policy with its damage and theft protection. The credit card company will replace, repair or reimburse cardholders for eligible purchases bought entirely with Visa Signature cards. The maximum is $500 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder.

Capital One Venture and Capital One VentureOne cards both offer damage and theft purchase protection as they both are categorized as Visa Signature cards, according to Capital One spokeswoman Sukhi Sahni.

And Chase Sapphire offers to replace, repair or reimburse cardholders for qualified items within 90 days of purchase.

Items bought with any American Express card can be reimbursed if accidentally damaged or stolen up to 90 days after the purchase date. The benefit includes purchases made outside the U.S.

Read the fine print, though. There's often a laundry list of items excluded from coverage. For example, the purchase protection offered on Capital One's Visa Signature cards doesn't cover boats, aircraft, cars or other motorized vehicles or equipment.

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