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Can Citi Price Rewind Help if You Missed the Sale?Do you know that sad feeling you get when you see that something you bought is now being sold at a lower price? It seems a wise consumer in the age of the Internet should be able to avoid these mistakes that can make some feel that they have wasted their money. In reality, there are some products that will naturally drop in price over time and there is little we can do about it … until now. Citi has just announced its Price Rewind program that allows cardholders to automatically receive a refund when their purchases are offered at a lower price within 30 days.

How Price Rewind Works

Price Rewind is a complimentary feature that is now offered on all Citi cards. Cardholders then register their purchases online to become eligible for a refund. Citi then automatically tracks prices on the item and issues a refund if the price drop exceeds $25 within 30 days of purchase. If cardholders find a lower price on their own, they can submit a refund request by fax, mail, or online. The refund request must include a photo or scan of the original purchase receipt and it must be received by Citi within 90 days of purchase.

What are the Limitations?

When presented with a cardholder benefit that seems too good to be true, consumers should carefully consider any limitations. In this case there are some, but not so many as to eliminate the value of this program. For example, refunds are limited to $250 per item and $1,000 annually per person. There are many excluded items such as jewelry, transportation, consumables and motorized vehicles. Thankfully, computers and electronics are not excluded, which are the most common items that see regular price drops. Other exclusion items include those that are advertised as “limited quantities”, “out of stock” items, “going-out-business” sales, “cash only” sales, closeouts, and price reductions due to manufacturer’s coupons.

Analysis

The credit card market is extremely competitive and banks are trying to use benefits such as these to encourage new applicants and entice existing cardholders to use their card. Indeed, Citi’s marketing material encourages cardholders to shop with their card 365 days a year. And although other banks offer “price protection” programs that require consumers to submit paperwork, Citi’s Price Rewind is innovative in that refunds can occur automatically once a purchase has been registered online.

But at the same time, there are other ways that Citi cardholders could seek to utilize this benefit. For example, cardholders may wish to deliberately make purchases from retailers with a higher price for the purpose of superior service or convenience. Shoppers could then register their purchases and receive a refund based on a lower price elsewhere. Alternatively, cardholders might choose to make purchases from a merchant participating in an online shopping mall that returns additional points, miles, or cash back, even if the item is offered at a higher price. The buyer then gets the benefit of the additional rewards as well as the lower price offered elsewhere.

By using Citi Rewind, cardholders can shop at the store of their choice with confidence that they are getting the best price currently available, and that they have some recourse if the price drops later. Just think of it as the cure for that disappointed feeling that you get when you see a lower price.

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Image: Ananta Bhadra Lamichhane, via Flickr

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