Credit cards may be called out for causing overspending and large amounts of debt, especially during the holiday and summer seasons when gift shopping and travel are at their peaks. But some complimentary credit card benefits can actually end up saving you money.
Here are four credit card perks that might apply to your purchases:
1. Extended warranties
Extended warranties promise to cover a purchase beyond its standard manufacturer warranty. Unfortunately, extended warranties tend to be extremely costly -- the more expensive the item, the more expensive the extended warranty.
However, with many credit cards, there may be no need to pay for an extended warranty. Look at your card's benefits, and you might find that purchases made with the card are eligible for one additional year of warranty past the original manufacturer's warranty. For instance, American Express will add one extra year to the original manufacturer's warranty of five years or less.
Extended warranties from a credit card could yield plenty of savings, especially if you're shopping for electronics and gadgets.
2. Price protection
It is understandable to be upset when an item drops in price soon after you bought it -- like when the new flat-screen HDTV you purchased for $1,000 goes on sale for $800 one week later. Some retailers will refund the difference in price if you ask, but many do not.
Through price protection from your credit card, you may be reimbursed for the difference in price if you can prove that the cost dropped in a certain period of time following your purchase.
Citi offers a program called Price Rewind that lets credit card customers track the prices of recent purchases and request refunds if the price falls by at least $25 within 30 days of the purchase. Most price protection programs, however, will require you be vigilant in catching price drops.
3. Purchase protection
It's one of the worst feelings when your expensive, new gadget is broken or stolen before you had time to truly enjoy it. One credit card perk will help ease the pain if such an event occurs.
Purchase protection is an insurance policy against accidental damage or theft of an item during a period following the purchase. The coverage window and reimbursement limits vary from card issuer to card issuer. Additionally, you may be asked to provide a receipt and proof of damage or theft, like a police report.
Certain exceptions apply to purchase protection. For example, Discover's purchase protection service excludes damage caused by power surges, mold and "acts of God."
4. Refund protection
Refund protection, or return protection, is a benefit that will come in handy if you try to return an item, but the merchant won't take it back. Such instances are common when you have an unused or unopened item, but you waited too long and missed the refund window period.
With refund protection, your credit card issuer may reimburse you for the purchase price (coverage maximums may apply), if the purchase was made with the credit card. For example, a store's return policy may state that returns are accepted up to 30 days after the purchase, but your card's refund protection policy may cover you up to 60 or 90 days after the purchase. In some cases, your card issuer may require that you ship the eligible item to them.
For those impulsive purchases or rejected gifts, refund protection allows you to get that money back.
Find out if you have these perks
Your credit card may offer some, or all, of these convenient credit card benefits. If you still have your cardholder agreement, you might be able to find the terms of these card protections in the document. However, for the most up-to-date information regarding the benefits available on your card, a quick call to customer service (dial the number on the back of your card) should suffice.
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