11 Ways Your Credit Card Will Save You Money While Holiday Shopping

By Christa Avampato. Last updated 2 May 2015. 0 comments

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Take a stroll through any big box retailer and you'll find that part of the store has already been transformed into a winter wonderland. Elaborate displays house inflatable lawn decorations, tree ornaments, and holiday cards. Though you might not be ready to write your gift list just yet, you should know these 11 ways your credit card will save you money once holiday shopping gets into full swing. (See also: Top Credit Cards for the Holidays)

1. Extended Warranty

Many retailers will attempt to sell you extended warranties with your purchases, particularly for electronics. These plans tend to be very expensive and have numerous limitations. Some credit cards offer a free one-year extension of the manufacturer's warranty just by placing the entire purchase on the card. Check your credit card benefits to see which ones have this perk. (See also: 11 Awesome Credit Card Perks You Didn't Know About)

2. Price Protection

Nothing will deflate your shopping spirit like buying a gift for someone and then finding the exact same item at another retailer for less money. While you can do a good deal of price checking before you make the purchase, sales that you can't foresee crop up throughout the holidays. Some credit cards offer price protection where you may be refunded the price difference if something you purchased goes down in price within a specific period of time.

3. Return Protection

How many times have you bought a gift only to find out that the recipient already has it or it's the wrong size or color? Most retailers have an expiration date on the length of time that they accept returns or exchanges. Sometimes, retailers don't accept returns or allow exchanges at all.

Luckily, many credit cards offer 60-90 days of return protection. If you bring the item back to the retailer and the retailer doesn't accept the return, your credit card company may give you a refund for the purchase if you placed the entire purchase on your card. Again, it's important to check limitations and exceptions to this policy.

4. Purchase Protection

Unfortunately, product damage and theft are rampant during the holiday shopping season. Increasingly credit cards offer purchase protection though they don't always advertise this benefit. Cards that offer purchase protection typically protect items from theft or damage for 90 days from the date of purchase.

5. Cash Back

Check to see if you have a cash back credit card that offers cash rewards for your purchases. Using the right card can help you rack up savings when it's time to pay the bill. Usually cash back rewards come in the form of a statement balance. If you hit their minimum threshold, you can apply the cash rewards to your balance and get a nice discount after you've already bought your gifts.

6. 0% APR Promotional Offer

As a general rule, I only charge expenses that I know I can pay off in full every month. Interest rates on credit card balances are often 15% or higher. If there's no way for you to avoid carrying a card balance this holiday, look for special sign up offers that provide a 0% balance transfer rates and/or 0% interest charge on purchases for new members.

7. Shopping Portals

Many credit cards have retail partners who offer discounts if cardmembers shop through their particular shopping portal. Check to see what discounts your credit card issuer may offer if you use their shopping portal. The shopping experience is the same. You just go through one extra step (go to the shopping portal to click on the store link instead of going to the store page directly).

8. Hotel Discounts and Upgrades

Before you book a hotel for your holiday vacation, check your card benefits to see if you can get special discounts and/or upgrades at various hotel chains. You can also check out some of the hotel co-branded credit cards if you're partial to a particular chain. The sign up offer alone may get you some free nights. Then you can use the card the rest of the year and cash in for every holiday vacation. (See also: The Best Credit Cards for Hotel Deals and Rewards)

9. Airfare Deals

Do you have a travel rewards credit card? Now's the time to check how many miles you've collected and how to maximize your travel rewards. The best credit cards offer 1:1 transfer points to partner loyalty programs. Others offer discounts by purchasing or redeeming travel through their travel portal site.

If you don't already have one, consider signing up for a card with a big sign up bonus. Some even offer free or deeply discounted companion fares. If you have a favorite airline, you can see if they have a co-branded credit card. Otherwise, there are plenty of great travel rewards credit cards that offer many different options for redeeming flights.

10. Gift Cards for Reward Points

If your card has a reward points system, it probably offers you a variety of ways to use those points. Purchasing gift cards is one of the highest value ways to use your points. For example, you may be able to purchase a $100 gift card with only $90 worth of reward points. Credit card companies usually make special arrangements with retailers to purchase a retailer's gift cards for a discounted price. Through its rewards programs, credit card companies pass this discount on to their customers. If you plan to buy gift cards for gifts, check your credit card rewards program options to see what they have on offer.

11. Special Deals and Discounts

Different credit cards offer different discounts and extra rewards for shopping. Some credit cards might offer extra reward points for shopping at department stores. Others might offer their card members a straight discount at certain stores. Check your credit card website or call the number on the back of your card for details on special offers, seasonal or otherwise. (See also: Store Credit Cards That Don't Suck)

Benefits often change without notice and can have limitations and exceptions. Don't assume that your card does or does not offer any of these benefits. Check online and call the number on the back of your card to get the scoop so that you fully understand the exact benefits and how to use them. Happy holiday shopping!

Have you taken advantage of these or other credit card perks? Please share in comments!

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