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Use credit cards for piece of mind on your purchases

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

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.

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