Putting that next purchase on plastic could pay off big

The credit card industry has faced a tremendous amount of criticism during the last four years. Politicians have imposed significant regulations and legislation on card issuers. Consumers continue to bash the high interest rates and fees associated with their cards.
 
But despite all the criticism, credit cards offer real benefits to consumers that are unmatched with other forms of payment. If you pay your credit card balance in full on time every month, your credit card may be the wisest way to make purchases. Here are some extra protections and benefits offered by credit cards:
 
With a number of issuers, using your credit card can cover damage incurred when renting a car, so you may not have to pay for the extra insurance coverage that car rental companies try to sell. To be safe, be sure to check the description of this coverage in your Cardmember Agreement. You must be the primary renter and use your card for the rental. To be covered by the car rental loss/damage insurance, you must decline the collision damage waiver (CDW) or similar option when you are reserving and picking up your rental car. Coverage applies for the first 30 days, and is in excess to your other sources of insurance. You will be reimbursed only for losses and expenses not covered by plans. Coverage may not be available make your own bobblehead.
 
Typical exclusions include: items stolen from inside or outside the vehicle; person not designated in the rental agreement as an authorized driver; loss that occurs while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; racing or reckless driving; blowout or tire/rim damage that is not caused by theft or vandalism or is not a result of a vehicle collision causing tire or rim damage.

Price protection helps you get the best price you can find on the products you buy. Many issuers will refund the price difference if you find a lower price on the same item from the same manufacturer within a designated time period--typically 60 days. Many issuers will set a refund limit. The lower price must be in print, such as in-store flyer or an ad in a newspaper, magazine or catalog. Internet prices are usually excluded. You need to save both your receipt and also the original U.S. warranty that comes with your product. Standard exceptions include: internet purchases or advertisements; items subject to rebate or manufacturer's coupon or a refund; items sold at "going out of business sales or "close out" advertisements; and customized items.

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Citigroup now offers Citi Price Rewind, a price protection service that helps consumers save money if the price of an item drops more than $25 during a 30-day period from the date of purchase. The entire amount must be made with your Citi card to qualify for a refund. Purchases made with a business credit card do not qualify. Chase will refund of the difference between the price you paid for an eligible item on the card and a subsequent lower advertised price for the same item within the first 90 days of purchase.
 
Purchase protection covers eligible purchases against accidental damage or theft for up to 90 days from the date of purchase. It can repair, replace or reimburse for up to the amount charged. For example, American Express coverage is limited to $1,000 per occurrence, and up to $50,000 per cardmember account per policy year. It is in excess of other sources of indemnity.  Bank of America's Visa Signature card offers Purchase Security within the first 90 days of the date of purchase. Bank of America  will replace, repair, or reimburse you for eligible items of personal property purchased entirely with your eligible Visa Signature card up to a maximum of $500 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder in the event of theft, damage due to fire, vandalism, accidentally discharged water, or certain weather conditions. If a retailer will not accept a return within the first 90 days of purchase, some cards, like Chase Sapphire, will reimburse you for the cost of the item purchased on your card.

Ten states already prohibit credit card surcharges and several other states are considering similar legislation. Debit card users are not subject to surcharges.

Farrington said the bill should not affect the ability of local governments or universities to impose similar charges, and he's considering an amendment that would let gas stations continue to charge different prices for cash or credit customers.

Brighton Township Treasurer Lana Theis said her municipality allows people to pay their taxes by credit card through a third-party administrator that charges a fee. She opposes the legislation and questioned how it would affect those businesses.

If surcharges are banned, merchants who take plastic would still have to pay for the costs of processing credit cards. Not allowing them to impose a surcharge means they would bury the credit card processing cost into their prices for products or services, rather than offering a transparent fee that consumers can avoid by using other methods of payment, Theis said.

The Michigan Credit Union League's Shawn Wolbert, who supports the ban, said retailers already have built credit card processing costs into their prices and aren't likely to lower prices if they decide to impose a surcharge.

 I had spent the bulk of my 30s and the dawn of my 40s pretending I was still in my 20s, playing in bands and making a name for myself in the absurd world of competitive air guitar. In 2006, I traveled the world attending film festivals in support of an air-guitar documentary in which I starred, and it was at an Edinburgh Film Festival after-party that I locked gazes with the Scottish air groupie who would become my wife. She had an enormous smile and the brightest blue eyes I had ever seen, and her air guitaring wasn’t half bad, custom bobbleheads.

Though I was 35, and a dozen years her senior, my life felt anything but grown-up. I figured my insistence on living like a 20-something would compensate for our age difference.

After three years of long-distance off-and-on dating, I confessed I loved her, and we solved our geography problem by getting married. At our wedding, on top of a mountain near Santa Barbara, Calif., I danced the hora wearing a kilt. A rainbow appeared as I read my vows. It was magic.

Together, we reveled in shunning maturity’s trappings. Our honeymoon was spent on a tour bus traversing the United States, putting on air-guitar competitions. While most of my friends had children, my wife shuddered at the thought of giving birth and I didn’t feel anywhere near ready to be a father.

It wasn’t until the house came along that the shovel truly broke ground on adulthood.

A few weeks after putting in our offer, while we were still waiting for word from the bank, we attended a yoga class. It was a windy Halloween night, and because we were the only people who showed up, the instructor asked if we wanted a free tarot reading “in honor of the holiday,” she said. We both tended to mock such things, but it was free, so we said sure, why not?



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