Planning on using credit cards this holiday season? For shoppers who pay off their balances each month, using credit cards can pay off. In addition to earning rewards, shoppers can also give their budgets a boost with these under-the-radar ways to use credit cards smartly this season:

Sign up for automatic refunds

When you sign up for an e-mail tool like Paribus, it automatically scans your e-mail to review your online purchases from participating retailers, then monitors the prices of those items.

If the price drops, it helps you get a refund. The e-mail tool Earny offers a similar kind of price protection and deducts a 25 percent fee from any refunds you receive.

Use a card with extended warranty protection

If you are making a big purchase such as an appliance or video game console, check to see whether any of the credit cards in your wallet offer extended warranty policies.

Eligible American Express cards, for example, offer up to two years of extended warranty protection beyond the manufacturer’s warranty. Coverage goes up to $10,000. Citi consumer cards also offer extended warranty coverage for an additional two years.

Choose a store card if shopping at one merchant

“Store cards, like the Target and Kohl’s cards, often offer extra perks, but watch out for steep APRs,” said Trae Bodge, a shopping expert. “Shoppers can really benefit from using these cards, but only if they pay them off in full every month.”

She said she shops a lot at Amazon, so she uses the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card for 5 percent back on her Amazon and Whole Foods purchases.

Visit your card’s bonus mall

While some card issuers have been sunsetting their bonus malls — online portals where you can shop and earn extra points or cash back — a handful still remain.

If you have a Chase card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can shop through that online portal to earn bonus points at hundreds of stores. The Wells Fargo Earn More Mall also lets you earn bonus points on purchases at select stores.

Act now for a sign-up bonus

If you are thinking of applying for a new credit card soon, consider getting it before Black Friday so you can earn any available sign-up bonus. You typically have to spend a certain amount on the card within a few months of opening it, so getting the card now can help ensure you hit the required spending amount with your holiday shopping.

 

 

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