Use credit cards for piece of mind on your purchases

Earlier today, I posted on my Twitter and Facebook pages how USA.gov, the Federal government’s information clearing house, provides a helpful wizard to help you write complaint letters, but did you know that making purchases with credit cards can help protect your wallet, too? The article was mostly about the website’s helpful letter writing tool, but what it didn’t touch on was how you can use credit cards to help add purchase protection in case something goes wrong. Here is a basic overview of how these programs work.

First, if you can, as I suggest so that you can maximize earning loyalty points, buy everything with credit cards. Not only is that money not taken immediately out of your wallet, as with a debit card, or cash, it provides extra consumer protections for which many are not aware. For example, Chase-issued credit cards come with an automatic doubling of the manufacturer’s warranty, which typically means another year added. Thus, if a product is faulty on day of 366 of ownership, you can still file a claim with Chase and get a replacement issued. Depending on what the product is, and amount, there will be some paperwork and a phone call involved to claim this benefit. But, it’s better than having to replace something out of your pocket if you can avoid it.

Second, the warranty extension is just for starters. Some credit cards come with a price protection benefit as well. Here is how it works: say you buy an item like a refrigerator and 90 days later you see that it has gone on sale (in store or online), you may be eligible for a claim of the difference. With Chase, that is up to $500 – to a maximum of $2500 a year!

Third, let’s say a faulty product is under warranty, but the store can no longer accept the return. If it’s within 90 days, your credit card issuer may offer you return protection. Limits may vary, but it shows you have recourse here, too, if something goes wrong.

Fourth, here is another example where you may covered. Let’s say you just bought a television but it’s stolen or damaged. If within 120 days from when you purchased it, you may be able to file a claim for that, too.

credit cards

Credit cards can help protect your purchases

While this is not comprehensive, below, is a high-level listing of the price and purchase protection benefits from major credit card issuers:

Card Price Protection Warranty Extension Return Protection Theft/Damage Protection Links
Discover Card X X X X https://www.discover.com/credit-cards/help-center/faqs/
American Express X X X https://www.americanexpress.com/us/content/card-benefits/
Visa X X X X http://usa.visa.com/personal/card-benefits/credit-card/index.jsp
Master Card X X X X http://www.mastercard.us/card-benefits/

Note: this list comes with several caveats: 1) benefits vary by card; 2) benefits subject to change; 3) terminology may vary for benefits when making claims, so read terms carefully.

While exercising some of these benefits may be more trouble than it’s worth for nominal purchases, it’s good to know that credit cards will typically give you extra purchase protection which doesn’t require a complaint letter.

 

 

How to find additional grocery coupons using your smartphone

It’s pretty easy to find grocery coupons in the newspaper and online for popular items and staples such as cereal, laundry detergent, and toothpaste. But, there are many times, especially at stores like Whole Foods, where coupons are not as common. They have their “Whole Deal” flyer you can find, which certainly helps if you are going to the shop there. But, what if you could use your smartphone to find additional coupons? Enter apps such as Ibotta, Checkout 51, and SavingStar. Today, I am going to speak a bit about how these can help you find coupons and rebates where you might not have thought existed.

First, if you haven’t already, download them from the Google Play or Apple App Store, register, and pull them up. All three basically work off the same principle: search for a coupon you are interested in, “clip it,” and use it. However, here’s the twist. Instead of getting an instant discount when you buy a particular product, you receive a rebate for your purchase which you later cash out with PayPal, Venmo, Amazon, or your bank. I have used SavingStar and just cashed out my first rebate the other day after I hit the $5 minimum. Hey, it’s $5 I didn’t have to do much for.

Ibotta and Checkout 51 work a bit differently. With those apps, you search for a particular store and product, select it, and then once you make your purchase, you must upload the receipt to prove that you bought it. A bit of a hassle, but if you have some down time say on your commute (assuming you aren’t driving, of course), spend a minute or two uploading and you can rack of additional grocery coupons savings quickly. Yesterday, I uploaded a receipt for Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner to Checkout 51, and now have $2 pending in my account.

grocery coupons

Use Ibotta to get additional grocery coupons

As with SavingStar, Checkout 51 and Ibotta require you to hit a rebate threshold before you can cash out. Checkout 51 requires $20 but Ibotta is only $5, so that’s even faster. With these apps, its very easy to find grocery coupons that you might not have thought existed, or, use in addition to the ones you present at the grocery store. Check the out today and let me know your experience with them.