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But before you pick a card, check to make sure purchases are still eligible
Personal finance writer
Specializing in new trends in credit
It’s been a rough year for price protection, the once ubiquitous credit card perk that allows shoppers to claim partial refunds on newly discounted purchases. Many credit card issuers have trimmed the card benefit in recent months or cut it altogether.
But if you’re hoping to save some money this holiday season, don’t be deterred by all the belt-tightening. Price protection is still alive and well at a number of banks and issuers and can be a powerful tool for trimming spending – especially during the holidays.
Often touted as a secret weapon for budget-minded shoppers, price protection helps you save money by awarding you a partial refund if you find out another store is selling the same item at a lower price. Just save your receipt and file a claim with your card issuer within a certain time period and voila: No more fretting about whether you jumped too soon on a particular purchase.
Before you pick a card for holiday shopping, though, it’s a good idea to check with your card issuer to make sure your purchases are still eligible. A number of issuers appear to be rethinking their price protection policies. For example, some that still offer it on select cards have stopped advertising it online. That could be an early sign that those issuers are scaling back their benefits, or are considering dropping the protection altogether.
Here’s what you should know about the current state of price protection:
See related: Beware the aftermath of holiday credit card shopping
Chase and Discover cardholders are officially out of luck
Discover eliminated price protection on Oct. 31 after dropping several other card benefits, such as purchase protection and extended warranty, earlier this year. Meanwhile, Chase scrapped the benefit from most of its cards in August. According to The Points Guy, IHG Rewards cardholders can still access price protection through Mastercard. But Chase Visa cardholders will have to turn to other cards if they want access to the benefit.
Citi’s Price Rewind is still one of the best and easiest to use
Citi made headlines earlier this year when it dramatically pared back its Price Rewind benefit and capped reimbursements at $200 per item or $1,000 for the full year. Previously, you could potentially get reimbursed more than twice that amount. However, Citi cards are still some of the best cards to use for holiday shopping, particularly since Citi makes it so easy to price match your purchases.
Unlike other card issuers, Citi will actually scour the web for you and look for lower prices on items you’ve already purchased. All you have to do is register your purchases on CitiPriceRewind.com and Citi will search the web on your behalf for up to 60 days. Citi is also much more generous about the types of prices it will match. Some issuers, for example, will only give you a partial refund if you send them a printed advertisement – such as an ad you clipped from a flyer. However, Citi allows you to price match online ads, making it much more likely that you’ll score a deal.
Many issuers only offer price matching on select cards
Just because an issuer offers price matching on one card doesn’t mean it will offer it on the card you currently own. Many issuers, such as Capital One, Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, only offer price protection on select cards. Typically, the cards that do offer it are Mastercards. For example, Bank of America offers price protection on the BankAmericard credit card, but it doesn’t offer it on other cards.
Capital One offers it on the Capitol One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, which is also a Mastercard. Barclaycard offers it on select Mastercards, such as the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, while HSBC offers it on the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard.
Meanwhile, some issuers offer price protection on a small number of Visa and American Express cards. Wells Fargo offers price protection on the Wells Fargo Visa Signature card, while U.S. Bank offers it on the Cash 365 American Express card.
See related: As stores speed up checkout, holiday shoppers risk overspending
Few issuers are advertising the benefit
It’s getting harder to figure out which card issuers are offering price protection since fewer lenders are advertising it as a benefit. However, just because you don’t see price protection on your card’s promotional page doesn’t mean you don’t have access to it.
Some cards that don’t advertise price protection still offer it through the card’s network. But you’ll have to call your card issuer (with your account information on hand) to find out and then wait patiently while you get rerouted to your card network’s benefits department.
Some cards also call it something different, so be sure to check with your issuer. For example, the Cash 365 card refers to price protection as a “best value guarantee.”
If you’re trying to compare cards based on purchase benefits, then you could have a lot more trouble. Lenders that don’t offer a blanket price protection benefit often won’t tell you whether a particular card offers it – or what, specifically, it entails – unless you actually own the card. Even calling a card network’s benefits department won’t get you anywhere unless you have an account.
Many retailers offer similar perks
Your credit card isn’t the only way to take advantage of price discounts at other stores. Many retailers offer price matching – a similar perk that allows you to score an instant discount at the cash register if you can prove to the cashier or a customer service rep that you’d be able to score the same item elsewhere for less.
In many cases, all you need to do is bring a printout of another store’s offer and present it to the cashier and they’ll automatically discount your purchase. Some stores will even give you an extra 5-10 percent off as a reward for your business. (Clark.com has a great roundup of stores’ price matching policies.)
Meanwhile, a number of retailers that don’t offer price matching do offer price adjustment – a policy that allows you to score a partial refund if an item you just bought goes on sale shortly after you purchased it.
See related: How to boost your credit card rewards with holiday shopping
Bottom line: Price protection isn’t as widely available as it used to be; but if you have a card that offers it, then it’s a good idea to take it with you when you shop – especially during periods when stores are competing fiercely for your business. Just be sure to keep looking for better deals after you’ve wrapped up all your shopping. Policies vary, but card companies typically give you as long as 30 to 60 days to find a lower price.
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