The holiday-shopping season is in full gear and many consumers are trigger-happy with their credit cards. According to a recent study by TransUnion, 22.8 percent of Americans plan to spend between $251 to $500 on gifts during this holiday season. An additional 18.7 percent plan to spent $501 to $1,000.
In the coming weeks, being able to find the right gifts at reasonable prices is the name of the game. To help you fulfill the wishes of those you love, your credit card is likely to offer various perks and benefits that will come in handy for your holiday shopping.
Personal concierge. For busy consumers, the concierge acts as a personal shopping assistant. Concierge services can help shoppers find a particular item that they have trouble finding on their own. A concierge will tell you where to find it and the pricing (if available).
Credit cards that carry the Visa Signature and World Elite MasterCard logos offer complimentary personal concierge service, which is available 24 hours a day. The American Express Platinum Card, “Black” Card and Delta Reserve cards also offer this service.
Secure, one-time account numbers. Sometimes, the perfect gift can only be found at a some sketchy website to which you’d prefer not to delineate your credit-card information. Credit-card issuers have recognized this concern and some offer peace-of-mind through a feature that generates one-time account numbers for online purchases.
Bank of America, Citibank and Discover provide secure virtual account numbers, which come with their own expiration dates and security codes. Online purchases will process as if your real credit card number was used, but the merchant will not have their hands on the actual number.
Price protection. It’s never a good feeling when you discover a price drop on a recently-purchased item — if only you waited a little longer, you could have saved a little money. Knowing that cardmembers often encounter this situation, card issuers provide complimentary “price protection” on purchases. If you can prove a price drop within a certain period of time, some card issuers will refund the difference (up to a certain amount).
For instance, all Discover cardmembers can receive a refund of up to $500 if there is a lower price within 90 days of making a purchase on a Discover card.
Citi offers a unique program called Price Rewind, which will scours retailer websites for lower prices for 30 days after a purchase. If there is a price difference of at least $25, Citi will refund that difference.
Purchase protection. The last thing you want to happen to a new purchase is damage or theft. As a short-term insurance, some card issuers provide “purchase protection” to cover any recent purchases that are stolen or accidentally damaged. Typically, purchases for gifts are covered too.
American Express, for example, covers up to $1,000 per occurrence, and up to $50,000 per card account per year on eligible purchases up to 90 days from the date or purchase.
Return protection. Not every present is a hit. Or the recipient already has the item that you planned to give. In either case, you’ll have to return the purchase for a refund. However, there may be times when the store won’t accept your return — possibly because the store’s 30-day refund policy expired.
As part of some credit-card programs, purchases are protected for an extended return period. Discover and American Express will refund the cost of qualifying purchases if a store won’t process a return within 90 days.