On Nov. 13, just in time for the holiday shopping season, Citi unveiled "Price Rewind," an important enhancement to its price protection program. From now on, you can register any eligible purchase you make solely and entirely using a Citi credit card, and the bank promises to monitor hundreds of retailer sites for the next 30 days to make sure the exact same item isn't advertised elsewhere cheaper. If it is -- and the price difference is greater than $25 for that single item -- you stand to receive a refund equal to the price difference, up to a maximum of $250 an item, and $1,000 annually. You have to make a claim, but Citi says that it will alert you automatically that you may qualify to do so. Wow. Double wow, actually. Because this isn't some seasonal promotion. It's intended to be a permanent innovation that complements, rather than replaces, existing Citi Internet Price Protection and Price Protection coverages. And it could mean, for example, that you don't ever again have to suffer lines at the opening days of sales. If you want to purchase a particular product that's eligible, buy it the week before, and then claim back the difference when (if!) it's advertised online more cheaply within 30 days.
Credit cards that help youWe're getting used to seeing our credit cards as protectors of our consumer rights. Many already offer:
- Better statutory protections against fraud than any other form of payment.
- Extended warranties that can stretch the manufacturer's warranty on your washer, dishwasher, television or other eligible purchase by up to a year.
- Rental car insurance that allows you to decline expensive collision damage waivers and similar.
- Short-term (often 90-day) cover against the accidental damage or theft of items you bought using a card.
Discover credit cardsWith Discover's program, you're covered for 90 days, but it's up to you to research and identify cheaper prices. If you do, you can claim back up to $500 an item "bought in any store," capped at $2,500 a year, both of which are higher than Citi's limits.
You won't get back taxes, storage, shipping, handling and postage charges on what you buy, and "Coverage is limited to three of an identical item with a limit of one refund per eligible item." Got that?
American ExpressAccording to the AmEx website, if you change your mind about an eligible purchase made with an American Express card for any reason, you can return the item within 90 days and AmEx should normally refund you the full cost, whether or not the retailer wants to accept the item. Presumably, your actions must be reasonable, and it's unlikely you'll be able to return under this program that $250 bottle of imported Champagne you bought to celebrate Romney's victory and then downed to drown your sorrows. You only stand to get up to "$300 per eligible item, excluding shipping and handling, up to $1,000 annually per Card account," according to the company's website. This isn't price protection as such, but it may give you some leverage if you want to renegotiate with a retailer.
Chase credit cardsA search on the Chase website revealed no entries about price protection. However, an email reply was received after an inquiry was sent to the marketing department:
"We do offer price protection benefits provided by MasterCard and Visa, but these benefits vary by card. Customers who are interested in this benefit and others are encouraged to contact us to learn more."So, if you have a Chase card, or are thinking of applying for one, call the company's call center to discover what, if any, price protection you stand to receive.