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Using credit cards wisely

Use Your Credit Cards' Extended Warranty

by: Debbie Dragon

Many credit cards offer a free extended warranty benefit on purchases made with the card. American Express offers an extended warranty benefit on all of their credit cards; Visa Signature Cards has the Visa Warranty Manager program, and the Platinum, Gold and World MasterCard has a warranty extension program. If you're not sure if your credit card offers extended warranty benefits, call the toll free customer service number printed on the back to find out. Basically, credit card extended warranties will cover purchases made using the credit card when the manufacturer's warranty ends for a certain period of time.

Each credit card company offers a different extended warranty program. For example, American Express currently extends a manufacturer's warranty of 5 years or less by an additional year, while Visa will extend a warranty of 3 years or less up to another year and will also allow consumers to purchase an extended warranty that is less expensive than you can get at the retail store. MasterCard will double the manufacturer's warranty for up to 1 additional year unless the original warranty is already more than a year in which case MasterCard won't extend the warranty coverage at all. You will want to double check your own credit cards' restrictions on the extended warranty coverage to know for sure what your benefit is.

Using the Credit Cards' Warranty Coverage

If you plan to make use of the warranty benefit, you'll need to keep very good records of your purchase, including your original receipt to prove the date when the item was purchased. You'll also need a copy of the original manufacturer's warranty to show the date when the standard warranty ends. Before you contact your credit card company to make a claim for the extended warranty coverage, you'll want to get an estimate for repairing the product from the original manufacturer. Try to get the estimate in writing to include with your claim. Sometimes if the cost to repair the product are greater than the cost of simply replacing the item by purchasing a new one, a credit card company offering an extended warranty may decide to simply buy you a new product rather than spend the money to fix your existing one.

Credit card extended warranty claims can usually be made by phone, via the credit card company's website, or by fax – but call the customer service department to find out the specific rules and documentation required first to save time and ensure you are submitting everything to the right place.

It can take anywhere from one to four weeks to process a claim, depending on your credit card company. If your claim is honored, some credit card companies will put a credit balance on your credit card that can be used to pay for the repairs; while others will send you a check to use for repairing the product.

When shopping with a credit card that offers an extended warranty benefit, you can save money by not buying the retailers extended warranty since it's included for you at no cost.

If you don't have your receipt and original manufacturer warranty documentation, you may be denied an extended warranty claim.
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