The frenzied holiday shopping season has arrived. Amid all the buying and traveling to see family, it’s a good idea to keep your savvy consumer instincts intact. If you’re using credit cards for purchases, remember that credit card benefits and rewards can truly come in handy this time of year.
Whether it’s offering extended warranties on your purchases or giving you free access to cushy airport lounges when you’re traveling to see family, it’s time to brush up on the perks associated with those credit cards in your wallet.
Most major credit cards these days include price-matching policies. Not familiar with how these work?
If you make a purchase and later find the same item for a much cheaper price, the credit card refunds the difference. Discover cards are famous for this perk. The card will refund the difference up to $500 on eligible items if you find a lower price at any store within 90 days of purchase. The item in question however, must have been paid for with the Discover credit card.
“Also known by other monikers, such as price protection or price rewind, price matching is perhaps one of the most underutilized credit card benefits,” says Roman Shteyn, CEO and co-founder of RewardExpert. “Some credit card issuers will even conveniently monitor the price of your purchase for you if you register it, like with the Citi Price Rewind program.”
This is a benefit all consumers should be using, says Shteyn. If your credit card has this program and you don’t use it, you’re essentially throwing money away. Why not get the best price for the item you bought?
Many credit cards also offer purchase protection, also known as purchase assurance or damage protection.
This perk helps shoppers insure their goods against damage or theft, says Shteyn. And it can be useful because if your purchases ever get damaged or stolen, you’re usually on your own.
Shteyn explains, “This card benefit frequently goes unused by cardholders as they are unaware of their right to insurance through their card issuer.”
The coverage amount and the duration of time during which a claim can be submitted varies from card to card, typically ranging from 90 through 120 days after purchase. Some cards offer $1,000 coverage per claim while others may go as high as $10,000. You should check the terms and conditions for your credit cards to identify exactly how much coverage you may be eligible for.
Consumers are often encouraged by retailers to buy an extended warranty on high-ticket items like electronics and home appliances.
These warranties are usually pretty pricey. And why spend that money when many credit cards offer an automatic extended warranty at no extra cost?
American Express cards, for instance, are known for their extended warranty policy. If an item was purchased with your American Express card, then your card adds up to one extra year to the original US manufacturer’s warranty.
“Depending on the item being bought, it may not be worth purchasing a retailer’s warranty coverage since your credit card will most likely offer protection,” says Shteyn. “However, sometimes the retailer’s policy may offer a much longer coverage period than your credit card would.”
Accumulating Cash Back Rewards
While doing all of this holiday shopping, you might as well reap the rewards in the form of cold hard cash back.
Michael Foguth of Foguth Financial Group suggests using only credit cards that offer cash back while holiday shopping and eliminating the use of debit cards entirely, which offer no rewards.
“Find out which card gives you greatest cash back reward and use that,” he says. “Keep it simple . . . If you spend $10,000 on a card that offers 1% cash back, that’s $100. Some cards offer 1.5%. It’s free money for using your credit card.”
Airport Lounge Access
One last perk to keep in mind for the harried holiday season: some credit cards provide access to airport lounges.
It’s a feature that may come in handy as you travel back and forth to see family this season, and it can provide you a few peaceful, quiet moments away from the crowd and the hustle and bustle.
“When you need to fly during the holiday season, bring your credit card with you,” says Anna Wu, creator of the site FlightDealsHound. “A good variety of credit cards such as Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express Platinum Card, and Citi Prestige Card, to name a few, offer complimentary Priority Pass lounge access, which means you (and guests for some card holders) can access those exclusive airport lounges that offer free drinks, free gourmet buffet, and fast Wi-Fi connections.”
Not all airport lounges are created equal, but still, this is an added bonus that’s definitely worth keeping in mind as you travel.
Not sure what perks your cards have? Get in touch with a credit card representative and find out. If you want to get a new credit card with travel perks before the holiday season is over, make sure you check your credit first. You can check your credit for free at Credit.com.