Scary question: How will your credit card bill statements look post-holiday season? If you know that number will be off the Richter, there is no better time to know and use every single benefit and protective policy your credit card offers.
At Credit Karma, we're all about giving you the tools to make the most of your credit health and credit score. Coming to the scary realization that despite debt warnings or budgeting plans LearnVest throws at you, you may still swipe your credit card till the magnetic stripe wears thin, we want to give you the tools to make the most of your credit use too.
While you should still heed the warnings about holiday debt hangover, if you are spending, master your plastic and take advantage of the following protections for you and your purchases.
Protections for You
Fraud and ID theft happen, especially in the holiday season. There is a reason why Santa has a naughty and nice list. If your credit card is stolen and fraudulently used, many issuers offer $0 fraud liability, meaning issuers will pick up the tab for any unauthorized charges. Credit cards, especially rewards and travel cards, also feature ID theft protections that monitoring your account for suspicious activity and can even freeze credit card accounts if there is a threat.
Lower your interest rate. We can't emphasize enough that, for the right credit cardholder with good credit history, this strategy can work. Negotiating lower interest rates with your issuer might take a few phone calls, emails, or customer service chat messages, but it's well worthwhile to lower your interest rate a few percentage points. It will certainly come in handy if you are carrying holiday debt over the next months.
Protections for Your Purchases
Get the lowest price. If you forgot to use a smartphone app or deal site to help you find the best price, your credit card is your back-up tool. Just as some stores match prices, some issuers refund the price difference if a recent purchase has a lower price at another store or goes on sale, within a certain time period.
Return protection guaranteed. Avoid the faux pas of re-gifting last year's unwanted presents with return protection policies from your credit card. If you get stuck with unwanted purchases for which you lost the receipt or missed the store's return policy period, your issuer may refund you as long as you provide proof that the retailer would not accept your return. For example, Visa Platinum cards offer up to $250 back per item for up to 90 days after purchase date.
Damaged or undelivered goods? You’re covered. With the flurry of Cyber Monday deals and more consumers shopping online than ever before, make sure your online purchases are protected. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, credit card issuers are required by law to cover damaged goods and undelivered products, and reimburse you up to certain limitations. Some issuers reimburse damaged or stolen purchases within 90 days of purchase date. Citbank cards offer as much as $500-$1,000 back per item in the event of theft or damage. Take advantage; it’s like temporary insurance on your credit card purchases.
Extended warranty for free. What happens if this Christmas' brand new laptop dies before next Christmas? Some credit cards will offer extended warranties long after the manufacturer's warranty expires. Before you purchase the store warranty, check if your credit card offers extended warranty for free. For example, American Express and World MasterCard double most warranty periods, up to a year.
Purchasing on credit card makes the most sense and is more worthwhile when you use all the perks, protections, and policies it offers. You are already spending on credit, so you ought to take advantage of the added benefits available to you right now. Take the time to call your issuer or read through your credit card policy, and know how it comes in handy for you this holiday season. Remember to always be mindful to use your plastic, and don't let your plastic use you.
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