Whether preparing for Turkeys, Santa or a New Year’s Parade, the most expensive time of year is upon us. From gifts to travel, budgets will be stressed, stretched and busted. Here are 10 credit card hacks on how credit cards can really help you spend smarter, save more and travel cheaper during the next few months.
1. Price Protection
Ever feel like you got the short end of the stick because an item went on sale days after you paid full price? Never worry again. Your credit card can protect you! Some cards offer free price protection, where if you make a purchase with your card and find the same product advertised at a lower price within 60 days after purchase, the difference will be refunded, up to $500, subject to a calendar year maximum of $1,000 per account.
2. Purchase Assurance
Nothing’s worse than buying those new sunglasses, only to have them sink to the ocean floor days after you bought them. Purchase assurance covers most items purchased with your credit card for the first 90 days from the date of purchase, and it comes as a free benefit with many credit cards. It can be a great way to protect your investment from theft, damage and in some cases even loss!
3. Extended Warranty
Never, ever fall for a pushy salesman upselling you an extended manufacturers warranty again. Aside from the fact that they tend to be dramatically overpriced, your credit card likely already does it for you, automatically and completely free. Most credit cards offer an extended warranty that doubles the written warranties for up to one additional year on most new purchases made with your credit card.
4. Satisfaction Guarantee
Ever buy a product, use it, and then have buyer’s remorse. Sometimes, it’s too late. However, with some credit cards, if you become dissatisfied with a product you purchase using an eligible MasterCard within 60 days of purchase, and the store won’t accept a return, you could be eligible for a FULL refund for the cost of the product up to $250 ‒ that’s awesome.
5. Zero Liability
If you’re about to make a purchase where you don’t see the product, it has a wait time or relies on delivery, such as an online order, furniture or travel, use a credit card. If you pay cash or use a gift card, you run the risk that if the product never arrives, or your tour company goes under, you’re out of luck. However, if you use your credit card, your bank is on the hook for a dispute and fraudulent charges like undelivered goods, delivery of incorrect merchandise, etc…
6. Introductory Rates
If you need to carry a credit card balance for the next few months, plan in advance. Instead of paying 20% plus interest rates, get yourself a credit card with a 0% balance transfer or 0% introductory rate on new purchases. This will allow you to avoid interest charges, often times for up to a year or more, while you pay down your balance.
7. Retail Credit Card Promos
Retailers like the Gap, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s love when you sign-up for their store credit card, often offering an additional discount on your purchase. These discounts of 15% or more can really add up. Just make sure to use the opportunity for savings not credit, and pay back the balance immediately ‒ retail cards charge interest rates north of 28%!
8. Welcome Bonuses
Instead of paying for a flight for your holiday travels, why not just apply for a new credit card? There are many opportunities from American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, or United to get great credit card welcome bonuses. If you want to get two tickets for the same airline (for you and a special someone), match one of the U.S. airline credit cards above with another credit card that allows you to transfer miles to that airline.
For example, some of the best Aeroplan credit card offers give you enough points for a free return flight to anywhere in continental North America, and allow you to book on United. Apply for a United and an Aeroplan credit card, and you can get two free round-trip tickets on the same flight!
9. Companion Vouchers
Some credit cards, such as the Alaska Airlines Visa card, offer an annual companion voucher, each and every year. For a mere $121, you can buy a voucher for a travelling companion to any destination in North America Alaska Airlines flies, including Hawaii!
10. Cash Back
The average person spent over $800 on gifts during the holiday season alone last year! If you’re going to spend the money, you might as well get rewarded for it. Cash and debit cards get you little if any rewards at all. A cash back credit card can get you 1% to 5% in cash back depending on where you shop. You’ll likely spend more on big ticket items during the holidays than at any other time of year. Get rewarded for it.