Back-to-school shopping season is upon us! If you’re a parent trying to manage your finances during this hectic time of year, you’re probably looking for every opportunity to save a few bucks.
But have you considered the ways your plastic could help you make the most of your stock-up-on-back-to-school items? Take a look at the details below for 5 credit card tips you can’t afford to miss!
1. Use a high-rewards card to do your shopping
Our pick: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®
According to a 2013 survey by the National Retail Federation, families with school-aged children expected to spend an average of $634.78 on back-to-school shopping that year. Using a credit card with a stellar rewards rate (think 2% or higher) will help you get something big back for all that swiping.
2. Take advantage of price protection
Our pick: Citi ThankYou® Preferred Cardprice protection. If your card provides this perk and something that you bought with it drops in price, you’ll have the opportunity to be refunded for the difference between what you paid and the new, lower price.
One of our favorite price protection programs is Citi’s Price Rewind. Unlike its competitors, Citi notifies you if you’re eligible for a refund, as long as you register your purchases ahead of time. To find out more about how Price Rewind works, the Nerds reached out to Monique McKenzie, vice president of Citi public affairs. She explained:
“Citi Price Rewind does the work for you … when you register a purchase made with any Citi consumer credit card … if Citi finds the same item for a price that is at least $25 lower than what you paid within 30 calendar days of your covered purchase, you will get back the difference in price.”
This feature could put a lot of cash back in your pocket this back-to-school season!
3. Check out bonus malls operated by your card’s issuer or network
Our pick: Discover it® - Cashback Match™
Many people don’t know that some credit card networks and issuers operate online bonus malls. If yours does, you might be able to score extra rewards or steep discounts on your child’s back-to-school needs.
One of the best bonus malls around is operated by Discover. Known as Discover Deals, this online portal provides 5%-20% cash back at over 200 retailers, including Apple, the Gap and Nike. It’s definitely a perk to consider!
4. Don’t forget about extended warranty
If you’re purchasing back-to-school items that come with a manufacturer’s warranty, be sure to use plastic when it comes time to pay. All four major credit card networks (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover) can extend that warranty by up to one year, which provides added peace of mind when you’re buying expensive stuff.
Every network has different rules, requirements and exclusions when it comes to extended warranty policies, so be sure to read up on yours. At the very least, you’ll need to keep the item’s receipt and a copy of the manufacturer’s warranty – in other words, you’ll need to keep your paperwork in order to reap this benefit!
5. Use return protection when needed
Return protection is another lesser-used credit card extra that could come in handy during back-to-school shopping season. If your child’s tastes suddenly change and a store won’t allow you to return an item, every major credit card network offers the opportunity to get a refund.
Again, there’s red tape involved, and there are some significant exclusions to these policies (for instance, all exclude software). But if you know your network’s protocols and hold onto your receipts and credit card statements, you could put this perk to good use!
Back-to-school image via Shutterstock